I’m very rarely embarrassed by Silas anymore. I’ve sprinted through parking lots. I’ve turned tail and run from people with perfectly friendly dogs in the park. I’ve scowled at children. I’ve rejected a lot of treats. Whatever.
The only thing that still gets me is Silas’s stranger behavior. He has a routine that looks a lot like this:
1) Silas sees a person
2) Silas hauls me toward them
3) They see him and start saying how adorable he is
4) As we reach them, they reach down to pet him
5) and he starts barking at them
This barking is never as serious as when he decides to really bark at someone, but it’s still scary when he’s so close. He doesn’t do it with everyone. Some people he genuinely adores, and some people get his super-submissive “just let me cower down here and pee on your shoes” routine.
Today in the park, a woman on a bike pulled over to ask if Silas was a whippet. Nope; just a mutt. She was preparing to dismount and begin petting, so I said, “He’s a little skittish.”
At which point she looked down at Silas, who was bodily dragging me over to see her, and said “Really? He looks pretty happy to me.” Which, you know, was totally true. When I stopped short so that she couldn’t reach out for him, he started trying to climb on a picnic table to see her better. Feeling a little silly, I said, “If you tried to pet him, he would bark at you.” I could tell this for a fact. I can’t pinpoint it, but something about his body language was very telling.
After she biked away, I started thinking. I’ve always assumed that the greet-and-bark victims were somehow frightening upon closer inspection. They reached down to quickly, or smelled funny, or something. I wonder if, instead, he’s just getting too excited?
It’s one of those cases where the answer doesn’t really matter. No matter why he does it, I need to do a lot of work with people. Still, it’s a possibility that I find very comforting.