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.
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…