Most days of the week we have a client bringing in a prospective Ranch guest for a meet and greet or evaluation.
I just finished one a little while ago actually with a lovely little Pomchi called Ava...watch out for uncle Pete’s future pics of her, she’s a little sweetie.
When we perform an evaluation on a dog we have a very strict protocol that we never waiver from.
Most importantly, we never, ever, ever touch the dog, talk to the dog or even look at him or her when we first meet.
Because it’s rude.
I shall elaborate.....l
I first meet the dog in the car because its a ‘travelling den’ where I am going to meet the dog pretty much on his turf so I can check for territorial issues.
(Later, once this bit is done, we walk in the field and the woods for a good bit, but the most important part happens right there in the owners’ car.)
Now, Fido knows all of the smells inside the car so they can immediately fade into the background, and the occupants too, so he will zero in on me the minute I enter the vehicle and pay close attention to my smell. That’s all I want at this stage, just for him to breathe me in.
I carefully open the car door a smidge, allowing the dog to get a waft of my body odor, which, lets be honest, at this time of year, with me being a sweaty fat chick living in Georgia working outside a good part of the day, ain’t difficult.
I don’t put myself at risk; if a dog’s body language shrieks ‘you need to haul your fat ass out of here right now, Sista’ then I do as I am told. With all of these years working with dogs under my belt, I am pretty good at reading the signs before I am in harms way.
If the dog isn’t averse to me entering his space, very gently and slowly, then I carefully open the door a little more, finally perching on the seat inside the car, body turned away from him.
I allow him to approach, sniffing me as much as he would like, with no threat of consequence for him......meaning basically that I am not going to ask anything of him.
I won’t touch him, or hug him or even look at him. My face is always averted. He just wants to explore me is all, get a sense of who I am and what I bring to the table.
In those first moments, he is taking in layers upon layers of scent, thus gaining humongous amounts of information.
‘Hmmmm, she had a curry last night....yep Lamb Pasanda, and....is that.....not sure, but maybe...yep, she had basmati rice with a sweet tamarind sauce on the side.’
‘Okay, she’s unable to reproduce...this girl has had her giblets out, smells like it was sometime ago, too’.
‘Do I detect the smell of six other dogs in her hair? Dirty old bitch, doesn’t she ever wash????’
Seriously, there is no end to the intricacies of information particles that the humble dog can take from smelling me.
As he breathes me in, he is downloading me into his hard-drive, and while for some this may be uncomfortable, for me it is the basis of our forthcoming relationship.
Just as I wouldn’t interrupt Pete on an important phone call, no way am I going to interrupt this process until the dog is done.
If I were, at any point in these proceedings, to make it about me and what I want, I have already lost the possibility of the amazing relationship we shall have. I would have cut him off, robbed him of that most important moment in any relationship, the introduction.
Imagine if you went on a first date and your companion asks you questions about yourself and then keeps interrupting you every time you start to talk?
Would he get a second date?
Wouldn’t you forever refer to him as ‘a bit of a dick’? But never bother with him again?
Contrary to popular opinion, the outstretched hand with clenched fist is not a good idea. The dog is just going to get a good smell of all the crap you’ve touched all day with those hands (including your arse) if you do that, he’s not smelling you personally. Plus, it’s coming at him like a missile; people rarely do it slowly or respectfully enough for the dog’s comfort. Lastly, dogs always expect a clenched first to hold a treat don't they? Your empty hand means his first thought of you is going to be ‘Yeah, thanks....thanks a bunch, stranger lady!’
Just sit or stand, let him approach you, let him smell you without you moving or talking or raising your eyes.
Definitely no physical contact. Plenty of time for that later.
Dogs smell first, then they look, then they listen, and much later, they touch.
Let them do it their way, don’t try and change it to suit you...that’s how people get bitten.
I’ve lost count of the number of potential clients who think I am an ignorant bitch because they don't see me going ga-ga over their prized labradoodle or beagle, immediately stroking and loving on them like they are my own dog, cooing into their face about how beautiful they are.......
Very often my silence during this moment makes them uncomfortable and they start saying stupid shit like ‘Tell Aunty what a good boy you are!’ or ‘ Oh look, Fido, Aunty Penny’s here to say hello, he’s just ready to come play aren’t you Fido? Don’t do a poopy in the car will you Fido?’ Then they go all giggly and start trying to fill the silence with useless burble that probably pisses the dog off big time. I certainly know it does me.
Filling a void with noise is a particularly human thing to do.
Animals cherish calm and quiet.
They also cherish the slow build up of relationships, done in a way that they can handle, so they can process each fact as it hits them. Robbing them of this and getting all lovey-dovey, loud and physical, puts the relationship on the back foot and honestly can put the human in danger.
I’d never ever do this to a dog.
I’m going to say this again so you don’t forget it.......It’s just plain rude, and I am NEVER rude to any dog.
Of course, I’m rude to people every day (I even quite enjoy it sometimes, especially if the person is a bit of an asshole), but NEVER would I EVER be rude to a dog.
I respect them too much.
Idolize them, actually (especially ones with bushy eyebrows and whiskers).
If you have subscribed to this newsletter, you will feel the same. If you don’t, please go away. Your kind aren’t welcome here.....