I don’t post that much about Pip here, but he is a beloved member of the Mush Puppy family and today I feel compelled to make a plea on behalf of his sanity. See, Pip is shy. And for some reason, it is very often very difficult for John and Jane Q Alldogsloveme to accept that some dogs experience Stranger Danger.
His very happiest place on this planet is our dog park. It’s one of my very happiest places, too. It’s not the “typical” dog park, it’s about 5 acres of wooded river bottom on the Mississippi River. Here’s how it looked today:
I’m sure that part of the reason why he loves it so much is that it’s a veritable sensory wonderland for a dog and a great place for a nice hike; the physical and mental stimulation is a heady combination. But I’m convinced that part of the reason he loves it so much is that he is in complete control of whether he interacts with strangers or not. And most of the time, he chooses not.
For some reason, many people view other people’s dogs at a dog park as public property. And for some reason, many people take it very, very personally if a dog wants nothing to do with them. Please, J&JQ ADLM, try to keep in mind that there are really only two things you need to remember about Pip and dogs like him:
1. If he wants attention from you, he will approach you.
2. If he doesn’t approach you, leave him alone.
That’s it. That really is it, there’s nothing more. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s not a reflection on your value as a human being or a dog owner/trainer/whatever you do with dogs. I’ve seen him instantly take a shine to people I thought he would be scared of but side-eye and chuff at people who seem pretty innocuous and/or have good dog manners. I have been taking this dog to the dog park for nine years, and I still have no idea what his criteria are for judging strangers, and frankly I don’t care. I don’t like to socialize with everyone I meet, and I don’t expect him to, either.
It doesn’t matter if he’s a rescue, if he was abused, what kind of training I’ve done, what kind of training you think I should do, if ALLDOGSLOVEYOU, if you have some super secret trick up your sleeve, if you’re a good person, if you’re a bad person, if you have treats, if you have a toy, or if you know another dog just like him. Whatever perceived slight my dog has burdened your soul with is in your head. Your self-esteem should not hinge on whether or not my dog likes you. It’s not about your feelings, it’s about HIS.
This is his face that the few people in this world he adores get:
And this is the face of suspicion. In this case, it was a camera timer. But this is probably the face you’re going to get even if ALLDOGSLOVEYOU. Sorry, not sorry.
It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with him. And it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me for letting him be himself. And I am too old and jaded to care about your feelings more than I care about my own dog’s feelings. So for the love of god, if you recognize yourself here please leave shy dogs alone. There are plenty of not-shy dogs in the world for you to pet.