Anne M. Smith-Nochasak:
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I read this morning a series of recommendations for interacting with dogs. We were advised not to wrap our arms around dogs, enfold them in blankets and sweaters and hats, stare into their eyes, or pat them on top of the head. Sometimes, our well-intentioned behaviours can foster anxiety and even aggression.
As I, too, find those things annoying, I fully agree. Although I confess that I talk to my dogs and generate responses in voices I have designated for each, I am not comfortable with treating children or dogs as cute and adorable playthings. The Husky is a wise and noble confidante and companion; she is not a sweetie or a fur-baby. The Shay is a joyful and exuberant being, rich in affection; I would never dress her in a clown hat to celebrate that fact.
My girls are friendly, but please do not insist that your friendly dog push its face in theirs. They will demonstrate hostility toward your friendly dog, with expressions that might disturb the sensitive. Please listen and let me finish as I advise you, “Don’t put your face down to her –”. Please do not interrupt and say, “Awww, I’m used to dogs,” and then turn to me with accusing and streaming eyes as I finish, “because, as I was trying to say, the Husky loves to bump noses.” Please do not swing your palm down to pat the Shay on top of the head; she will click her teeth to advise you that she dislikes that. If she banged a paw on top of your head, perhaps you would not like it either.
They are my canine companions, the keepers of my secrets. The Husky lies behind me, watching as I write. The Shay studies the front window, and at precisely 4:30 pm local time, she will come up and tug my sleeve, because it is walk time. They are editorial staff and recreational staff.
They scan the sky and take note of all birds, drifting leaves, jets, and moving clouds, and at night, they study the moon. They are vigilant.
Like Musko, they understand human nature. They have made many of their conclusions based on experience. If they and Musko joined forces to write an advice column, I am sure that it would include these, among others: