You can see it coming.
The child rushing toward you, hand outstretched, a caregiver lagging behind while reminding; “remember to ask”…
The gleeful woman broadcasting, “he just wants to say hi”…as she desperately clings to a retractable leash while her pooch digs in, determined to come pounce on your pup.
All those feelings that are bubbling up inside of you. If you’re lucky, and have a dog that can tolerate the intrusion, you may only feel a slight annoyance. But if you own a dog that doesn’t cope so well your emotions range from anger to full on panic.
You have to stop the incoming, hope that your request is respected, and (in many cases) you’ll feel the need to explain yourself.
Somehow, dogs have come to be thought of as public property. I’m not sure when this trend started. I have a hard time envisioning a past where strangers approached one another asking if their dogs could say hi.
Now-a-days walk down any street in America and see what happens. Dogs are fawned over, cooed at, and pointed out to children with the “ask to pet him” comment. It leaves me to wonder, perhaps in the coming decades this behavior will carry over to other situations.
Maybe something like:
Hey, can I touch that wig you’re wearing? It looks so soft!!
Wow, that is a gorgeous Porsche!! I used to have one of those, mind if I take it for a quick spin?
Look sweetie, look at the beautiful diamond ring that lady is wearing, isn’t it SO pretty!!! Go ask her if you can have a closer look and maybe try it on.
If you get the idea that I’m over this sort of behavior, you’re right. I started a non-profit called Aware Pet Owner to help spread the right messages. The goal is to educate communities on how to share public areas safely and respectfully with companion pets.
Sharing space successfully depends on everyone in the community. We expect dog owners to step up and be responsible, but non pet owners need to participate in the process as well. The main lesson that needs learning is to stay back, admire from a distance if you wish, but don’t ask or approach a dog unless invited.
It may take a while before this is common knowledge, but let’s continue to spread the message.
In the meantime, here are a few coping strategies on how to get out of the uncomfortable situation of having to decline those requests. These excuses suit personalities that range from shy and polite to very direct.
So when the “No, sorry not today”, gets you the “Aw, poor pupper, mommy won’t let anyone say hello to you” response…one of these replies should do the trick.
For the “Can I pet your dog” question:
He’d love that, but he just got diagnosed with mange so it’s probably not a good idea until we finish treatment(This response is particularly effective if you accompany it with some nervous laughter!)
Those of you with a more direct sense of humor can give an indifferent shrug of the shoulders and reply: Ok, but it’s at your own risk!…Good luck.
When you hear the blurting statement, “He just wants to say hi!”
Post a big, silly grin on your face and say: Awesome! Hope it isn’t a problem that we are treating him for a flea infestation right now.
Or if you already possess a solid resting b*tch face, this one works well:
You better put the brakes on, or someone is going to get hurt.
It is a shame we have to explain ourselves or come up with excuses, but until a simple “No” suffices…feel free to use and share!
Aware Pet Owner, Inc is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Support is always welcome
You can Donate Here