(Apple Dumpling Gang reference, anyone? Sorry, I couldn’t bring myself to write the necessary “don’t.”)
We took Silas back home to see our families for five days. (And just now got back. Ignore any uncharacteristic errors here.) That visit will, I’m sure, appear here in a lot of ways over the next few days. Most interestingly, I finally put together one of the missing links in his behavior.
Silas reacts to strangers erratically, and one of my missions is to figure out what the real pattern is so that we can work on it. My family is one of my most compelling case studies. He adores my parents, and he even likes my nephew. (Okay, okay, at 14 my nephew is a head taller than me. He hardly looks or sounds like a kid anymore.) Except for my husband’s grandparents, he does not like my in-laws. While there are definitely some jokes that I could make there, my in-laws don’t really merit them.
In fact, I was a little confused. My in-laws are dog people. All of them–aunts, uncles, grandparents–have or have had dogs that they adored. My family is the opposite. My mother has never, ever admitted to liking a dog before Silas. (Even then she hasn’t admitted to it, but one day I caught her breaking off sections of her popsicle for him.)
On this trip I finally put it together. All those dog people want to love Silas. They want to pet him. They want to rub his ears and scratch his head and rub his belly. My non-dog people go about their regular lives. They ignore Silas, as much as you can ignore a dog with that much anxiety. My dad has very thin skin thanks to his medications, and he barely dares to pet my wild dog even when Silas is looking for attention. Silas adores them for it. He can ask for exactly what he wants. He’ll nudge his head under Mom’s hand for a minute, or he’ll sit next to Dad’s chair. My father-in-law desperately wants to play and roughhouse with Silas, who consequently goes into an anxious barking tizzy every time they even make eye-contact.
Silas tip #1: be cool. Don’t make the first (or second, or third) move. Above all, NO PETTING. He’ll ask when he’s ready.