Silas is not a social butterfly. I have a sincere and, I think, not unfounded hope that he can exist peacefully in the world, but I don’t think he’ll ever love crowds.
When he was a puppy, I spent a lot of time dreaming about taking him places. Shopping in dog-friendly stores, hanging out at dog-friendly coffee shops, meeting up with other dog-owning friends. If I just did everything that Ian Dunbar and the instructor for our puppy kindergarten told me, I was sure I could do those things.
I was wrong, and I’m okay with that.
Here’s the thing I’ve learned, going to all those dog-friendly places without my dog. A good portion of the dogs there aren’t wild about it. I mean, they usually behave themselves. Some of them obviously enjoy hanging out with their people no matter what, and some of them do genuinely solicit attention from strangers. But a lot of them are also either very stressed themselves or causing a lot of stress to someone else.
Take the miniature poodle I saw at PetCo last week. It’s hard for me to tell with small dogs, but I’m guessing he was adolescent. After he tangled his owners legs in his leash, because he was so excited he ran around like a crazy, she put him in the shopping cart. He promptly stood on his hind legs and put his feet on the edge of the cart. “Oh, I hope he doesn’t try to jump out!” she said. “Sit! Sit! Sit!” He did not sit. He was too excited to listen, and his owner’s anxiety was palpable from the next checkout lane over. Who was gaining what from putting him in that environment?
I’m not saying don’t take your dog out, by any stretch. I certainly do take Silas out, albeit with a keen eye to his anxiety threshold. I just wish people would think a little more about it first. Would your dog want to go with you to the store or the cafe? Or do you want to take your dog?