You know those kids who sidle up to dogs of all shapes and sizes, oblivious to any possible dangers? They sometimes meander up aggressively, full of child-wonder and vivacity. Other times, they shyly approach, gazing inquisitively at soft wet noses and liquid brown eyes. And they never speak or talk to you or even ask to see if petting your dog is safe and okay?
Yeah, I was that kid.
My parents tried their best to teach respect. Ask before you pet a dog, they would opine. Please do not stick your hand in that car with the dog in it, they would say, an edge of urgency to their voice. Don't hug that dog tied outside of the liquor store...that would be in a parental voice of fear and anger.
All to no avail, really. I was probably the kid most of you would have found - depending on your dog's personality - either insanely annoying or quite endearing. There was no middle ground with me.
I have this picture somewhere. It captures me perfectly. I'm eight or nine. I'm walking happily up to this dog, who is off-lead at the time. She's a Brittany Spaniel and boy is she happy to see me. You can see it in her posture, and you can see it reflected in mine.
That's how most of my encounters with dogs went. I was happy. They were happy. Life was grand.
Not always, though.
I sometimes dream of two dogs in particular. Big Malamutes. White with soft browns and greys. Furry beyond compare. Big pointed ears and amber eyes. They looked live wolves and to my 9-yr-old self, that meant they were Perfect. I dream of my younger self, this person who I vaguely know but love fiercely...she's sometimes an alien to me, though.
The dogs were tied up outside a convenience store, sentinels that most likely reduced business if anything.
Please forgive me for what I did next. As my parents trailed far behind, I ran up to these dogs.
And. I. Hugged. Them.
I know, right?
One of them growled, and I did not understand. I stroked her chest in what I believed a soothing manner. She growled the whole time while staring deeply into my eyes. The male thought I was pretty neat and inspected my ear thoroughly.
My parents rushed over just as the guardian of the dogs exited.
He exclaimed, rather surprised, "Wow, I'm shocked you didn't get bit. The female hates people."
I don't know if my parents said anything. I was a bit confused on the whole matter. Who ties up dogs outside a convenience store looking like adorable, huggable, wolves knowing one of them hates people? Why did she hate people, I thought. I still think that sometimes, and while my adult brain can come up with a whole host of reasons, I still think of those dogs with the mind of a 9-yr-old, and it makes me sad that a dog could hate people.
So please be amazed I made it through my childhood unscathed and unbitten.
What were you like around dogs, as a child? (Someone has to have been like me!)