Monday Mischief: Don’t Judge a Book (Dog) By Its Cover

three dogs

Imagine you are out and about, talking a walk, and you come across a person with the above three dogs. Which one do you want to pet first? Which one will you give most of (or all) of your attention to? Which one are you JUST POSITIVE will love you?

Well, if you picked the left or center dogs, you picked wrong.

Jeni (the Icelandic Sheepdog on far left) is not fearful or aggressive toward people, but she just… doesn’t care about them. If you try to pet her she’ll look away and disengage. Garfunkel (foster dog in the center) is fearful and would prefer that people do not approach him at all, much less pet him. Snoopy (right), however, LOVES people and wants to be everyone’s best friend.

But guess who gets the most attention when I take them out for a walk (individually or otherwise)? You probably guessed right this time – it’s not Snoopy.

I took Garfunkel out for a little socialization work this weekend. We went to a local indoor artist’s market that is dog friendly and most people are dog savvy. But dog savvy or not, apparently everyone loses their head when a three-legged dog walks by. I intended to sit off to the side and simply treat him for quietly observing people for a few minutes, and then leave. Instead, I had to fend off throngs of people that wanted to pet the dog that very obviously did not want to be touched.

Luckily I have no problem being rude so it actually turned out to be a nice positive experience for him and he was not forced to interact with anyone.

Bauer is cute and fluffy AND enjoys interacting with strangers, but that's not always the case for all dogs!

Bauer is cute and fluffy AND enjoys interacting with strangers, but that’s not always the case for all dogs!

It got me thinking though, how often people go on looks when judging a dog. I have brought all of my dogs to this market at one point or another. Jeni, who is adorable and fluffy attracts quite a bit of attention but is completely indifferent to anyone trying to win her affection. Snoopy on the other hand, LOVES people and generally wags his tail and looks expectantly at anyone walking by, but he gets a minimal amount of attention from people passing him… usually the only people that want to pet him at the market are a few of the artists that we know.

Snoopy, notably, is a “pit-bull type dog.” If for some reason you are not familiar with the judgement and stereotypes blocky headed dogs face, I would visit here and here and here and here for starters.

It’s a bummer that people instantly judge a dog by its looks, though not exactly surprising. I’m sure we’ve all felt that “OMG PUPPY AHH SO CUTE MUST TOUCH IT” urge when we see someone carrying around a puppy or even just a really cute dog. And affecting how many people want to pet a person’s dog is probably a minor thing. But unfortunately it does affect how people choose to adopt a dog, something I hope to cover in future posts.

One other (potentially) exciting thing happened this weekend as well, but you’ll have to wait until later in the week to find out…

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Today I am joining the Monday Mischief blog hop, hosted by Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog and My Brown Newfies.

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12 thoughts on “Monday Mischief: Don’t Judge a Book (Dog) By Its Cover

  1. I have a pit mix that absolutely loves people. She almost cannot contain herself, she makes me laugh. On the other hand, I have a beagle who could care less. He is still a puppy but he has more important things to do than greet people. People approach and Josie bounces around, Dexter turns his head playing hard to get.

    • Ha! I feel like I not have picked the cutest picture I have of him for this example but he is just such a sweetie. Unfortunately most people just don’t think the same way!

  2. Very true! It’s easy for people to make snap judgments about dogs based on appearances, particularly if you aren’t keen on reading dog body language. With two German shepherds, we get a lot of automatic assumptions that they are both aggressive and likely to bite someone without provocation. Sigh. But Eden’s floppy, puppy presence has created a lot more positive attention, and since adopting her, a lot more people want to pet both dogs. The positive consequence is that Eden’s friendliness is rubbing off on Pyrrha! She now wants to meet strangers on the street, which is not something that has happened in our two years with her.

  3. People always pay attention to Mr. N and want to pet him. Whereas Onyxx rarely gets any attention even from Chihuahua people. Which is good and bad. Because Mr. N likes strangers better but Onyxx is the one we’re trying to get adopted! I could have adopted Mr. N out several times by now during the time we’ve had Onyxx.
    They’re both small and fluffy so I’m not sure why people ignore Onyxx.

    • That is odd! I think Onyxx is very cute! Getting someone to adopt Garfunkel would not be difficult if it was based on looks alone but he is very much a special needs dog in the behavior department and I do not want someone wanting to adopt him just because he is cute or a tripod.

  4. I don’t pet or approach any dog without permission from the handler. That way I don’t encroach on anyone’s space, plus it give the handler an opportunity to give me special instructions, like I do, “Don’t pet him unless all four paws are on the ground.”

    Since I have 3 dogs–each of whom looks completely different than the next–I find it fascinating that so many people feel the need to inform me which one they like best. It’s not like my dogs can tell, but I find the concept a little weird. Would I approach a mom and tell her I like her daughter best?

    People are funny…

    –Woofs (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats.

  5. Pingback: A Word About Snoopy | How I Adopted Your Brother

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