When you tell people you are thinking about getting a dog, there are a lot of things they will warn you about.

It’s a lot of work. They will inevitably destroy your stuff. (Remind me to tell you about the new ink stain on our couch, courtesy of a certain fuzzy-faced culprit.) They have expensive medical bills. They need training. They bark. They pee on things.

The list goes on.

One thing no one warns you about? You’re going to have to get over any social anxiety you have about chatting up strangers.

Because, here’s the thing: My dog? My dog may not always love new people, but he loves new dogs.

Bogey thinks every other four-legged thing is his best friend. He tries to play with other dogs, but also cats and even squirrels. The only animal he shows an ounce of aggression toward is birds. (Seriously, he seems convinced he could catch one if I would just let him try.)

This is great because I don’t have to worry about him inflicting harm on another living thing (unless it tweets). This is sometimes annoying because we have to stop and meet every. Single. Other. Dog.

In the month we’ve had the Bogster, Joey and I have spoken to more people in our neighborhood than we had in the entire first year we lived here. Sometimes (and I’m doing the momma humblebrag thing here) it’s just people telling me how cute he is. Seriously. He’s that adorable.

"Oh, hi. Just sitting here. Being the cutest freaking thing you've ever seen."

“Oh, hi. Just sitting here. Being the cutest freaking thing you’ve ever seen.”

The rest of the time, though, they also have a dog and Bogey wants to be their best friend.

I mean, it’s fine. These encounters rarely last more than a few minutes. There’s always some awkwardness as the dogs immediately start to tangle their leashes. And the conversations are usually some (slight) variation of this:

{Bogey spots a dog and immediately starts straining toward them}
Me: Oh! Is he friendly? (indicating the other dog)
Them: He’s friendly!
{dogs sniff noses and then IMMEDIATELY butts}
Me: They’re so shy, right?
Them: (polite laughter) I know!
{pause for sniffing}
Them: What kind of dog is he?
Me: Cavalier/cocker spaniel mix.
Them: Oh, I love his coloring. (ed note: This is not me bragging. Literally everyone says this.)(Okay, bragging just a little.)
Me: What’s yours?
Them: [insert breed]. How old is he?
Me: Eight months.
Them: Oh, he’s a baby!
Me: Yeah…how old is yours?
Them: [insert age]
Me: Oh, that’s great. (ed note: What, Justine? Why is that great? Shut up.)
{more leash shuffling and sniffing, possible dog tussling}
Me: Oooookay, Boges, let’s go. (Literally DRAG Bogey away from his new soul mate like the heartless wench I am. But, dude, life must go on. Especially if I’m holding a bag full of your poo and just want to get to the nearest trash can without interruption.)

Hand to God, I have had that exact conversation no fewer than 12 times since we got the dog. Bogey always acts mildly traumatized when it’s time to say good-bye, but it’s nothing compared to when he meets an unfriendly dog. He’ll do his usual choking-himself-with-the-leash-to-get-to-the-other-dog-quicker routine, and then if the dog snaps at him or barks aggressively, he immediately regrets his life choices and backs up until he’s sitting on my shoe. He’ll glace up at me with this incredibly concerned look like, “What the heck, Mom?”

But he’s young. Eventually he’ll learn the world is not full of best friends like he thinks it is.

Honestly, I don’t mind having 2-minute conversations with fellow dog owners. It’s cute when Bogey and another pup bond immediately. It’s the people who use the dogs as an opener for an actual chat that I get testy with.  (Which is probably the most cynical, New Yorker-esque thing I’ve ever said. But what do you expect? I’ve been here half a decade now.) Or the people who want you to continue to chat like nothing is happening while you juggle leash handles and try not to act nervous about their 50-pound dog who “isn’t mean, he’s just playing when he barks and growls like that!” Riiiiight.

There will probably come a day when I don’t feel at all weird chatting someone up while our dogs stick their faces in each others’ rear ends, but I’m not quite there yet. The point is, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, prepare to make a lot of friends. A LOT. Like, all the friends.

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“Let’s go find some pals.”

5 Responses to What we talk about while our dogs sniff each others’ butts

  • Karen says:

    I think you’ll eventually come to like this part of owning a dog. There are people in our building and neighborhood who only know us because of Lexie, and it warms my cold New York heart. One maintenance guy at the corner of our block calls her his “cuckoo head” (why, I don’t know) and makes over her like the sun rises and sets on her satellite-sized ears—and I don’t even find it weird anymore. I know other people just by their dog’s name (“Oh, that’s Otis’ dad. You know, the beagle with the Michigan State collar?”), and when we see each other without the pups, we exchange polite nods like Southerners. It’s the dogs’ world. We’re just living in it. But we feel like we have an actual community now, and it’s kind of nice. (Maybe that’s the West Virginia talking.)

  • stacy says:

    Would you judge me if I told you that I purposely don’t make small talk because:
    a) i hate meaningless chatter
    b) i like to see how awkward it makes the other person (and therefore whether or not we’re on the same page with small talk)

    We’ve learned that when we’re in a hurry, it’s just not worth it because of said small talk. So, we just keep walking briskly, holding the leash close, and other walkers usually take that as “training” or “not friendly.” Of course, this is only IF you want to avoid other dog walkers. I’ve found that dogs in Des Moines (or green meadows west, technically) are not nearly as well trained…they’re so used to their territory, fenced in yards, etc. that they just can’t handle new friends (whether they’re overly excited or aggressive).

    Anyway…next time Bogey sits on your shoe in fear, remember that if he was Paloma, he would also shit on your shoe! BEEN THERE…
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  • stacy says:

    I’d also like to add some positivity (haha): I made SO many neighbor friends in LA because of Elphie. Not really Paloma…she can only be admired at a distance. Elphie has best friends, a girlfriend, puppy sleepovers, happy hour at the Pawbar, the works. He still gets messages on FB and via text that his BFFs miss him or say hi. It totally IS a dog’s world. I’m just Elphie’s little messenger…
    stacy recently posted..Body TalkMy Profile

    • Justine Lorelle says:

      Haha I have heard this to be very true! Hopefully Bogey will make us loads of friends if/when we ever move.

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