Dog Culture

Since getting a puppy, our social life has sky-rocketted. I talk to more people in my day than I talked to in a week before she snuggled her way into our lives (and our dirty laundry). People love her. She’s so tiny and when she sees anyone, anyone, her tail starts to go crazy in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, they’ll want to stop and give her the love she thinks she knows she deserves.

Every puppy gets the same oohs and aahs though. When Liia was a puppy, she would get the same reaction from people at campgrounds. When you live close to other people, of course your puppy is going to get more love and affection than she can take.

Mocha gets a much different kind of attention than Liia ever got though. At campgrounds and other places we might take her when she was a pup, Liia would encounter a group of people that were interested in petting her, finding out how old she is, what her name is, and how big she’ll get, and then leaving her behind, not planning on ever seeing another Bernese mountain dog. I get all those questions too. In the elevator, especially, people will strike up conversations about my dog. But as soon as we get outside and out to the grass, there’s a whole different kind of people.

People with dogs. One dog or two. Little dogs or big dogs. Yappy dogs. Friendly dogs. Nervous dogs. Limping dogs. Hyper dogs. And every one of them interacts with every other one. There’s this unspoken rule out there on the dog path that, if your dog’s head turns toward another dog, if they look interested in a sniff, no matter what part of your walk you’re on, whether you’re headed home, or just headed out, you let them touch noses and sniff bums. ¬†Sometimes, they’ll want to play, some more rambunctiously than others. And instead of trying to separate them and keep them calm, everyone sees this as a good thing. This pleasantly surprises me. I guess I didn’t expect city people to be so accepting of animalistic behaviour from their animals.

Some of the owners might just say hi and help keep the dogs untangled while they circle each other with tails going wild. Others though, become very interested in our little girl. They want to know everything about her. They want to coo over her cute soft waves. They’ll listen to me complain about the house training process and offer up whatever advice they have. They answer questions about their own dogs’ behaviours and training and admire the way their dog plays or protects our little sweetheart. They offer warnings and encouragements. They suggest play dates. They ask about M and I. They try to network for me. And the biggest thing? When it’s time to go our separate ways, they say, “See you soon.” And they’re completely serious, because they know that sooner or later, they’ll see us right back out there with our pooch in tow. It’s like she’s making instant friends for us, friends that are mostly outside of any other social circle we might be a part of. She’s instant entry, instant membership, into a club that, before, we didn’t know existed.

Today it’s rainy, the kind of day neither of us want to venture out into. But we will. And so will they.

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