Can’t we all just get along?

Fido… Come… Sit
By Yvonne Passmore

Well, apparently not.
Over the holidays my youngest dog, Chiclet, had what most people would consider a bad encounter with another dog. While we were visiting with my parents, a friend stopped by with her dog. Now, I’m not sure what exactly happened to create the fireworks but there was an explosion and the fur was flying.
My Mom’s friend’s dog is a lovely older dog that gets along well with people and other dogs. Chiclet generally isn’t overly interested in dogs. She prefers to say a quick hello and then go about her business. The situation we were in, at someone’s home, didn’t allow these dogs a slow or proper introduction to each other.
To prevent problems in these situations, we really need to stop thinking like people and start thinking like dogs. Close quarters offer no escape and homes may translate as turf.
When most dogs meet each other, personal space is the last thing they think about. Most dogs instantly invade another dog’s space by immediately sniffing the other’s behind. In the dog world, that’s totally acceptable. What happens next will determine the type of relationship they may have. Dogs that take the next step of going in to investigate another dog’s face too soon, or the ultimate insult of putting its head or paw on another dog’s neck or back can lead to all out war. The wrong sideways glance from either my dog or the friend’s dog resulted in snarls, growls and teeth being bared. These two dogs, both who generally get along well with other dogs, became heavyweight boxers standing on their hind legs duking it out.
These things can happen so fast that no one really notices who or what started it. The one thing I know for sure is that the brawl wasn’t the dogs’ fault, but ours for taking their good natures for granted and not going through the proper procedure to help ensure a good first meeting.
If we choose to meet this dog again, and I certainly would like to, it will be on neutral turf and not in such a personal ‘in-your-face’ manner. A walk together to feel each other out and then allowing them both off leash where there is room for them to move freely would probably result in a pleasurable experience despite their initial awkward first date.
I guess there’s always some embarrassment when ‘our kids’ can’t play nice with each other, but if it’s only the occasional dog that your dog doesn’t care for, does it really matter? It does if those dogs need to be in social settings together often, but if they only meet in passing in shouldn’t matter much. It’s not up to us to decide who our dogs like. We shouldn’t be so pompous to try to make that decision for them or make the assumptions that they should all just get along for our sake.
No dogs were hurt in any way for the contents of this column.

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