Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE| WELLBEING - WORDS: SO­PHIE GOULOPOULO­S – www.whimn.com.au

New York is a busy, dog crazy place. I seem­ingly can’t walk 5m with my two cavoo­dles with­out some­one gush­ing and run­ning over to pat them, all the while com­pletely ig­nor­ing my ex­is­tence.

I get it, they’re adorable. You see these scrappy, happy faces walk­ing to­wards you and you just can’t re­sist.

But as un­threat­en­ing as they ap­pear (and they are; they’d sooner lick you to death than come close to any­thing ag­gres­sive), you don’t know their story and you can’t know for sure how they will re­act to a to­tal stranger. And hell, as well as I know my pooches, even I can’t 100 per cent guar­an­tee they won’t take an un­ex­pected nip be­cause I’m not a dog whis­perer and I also can’t see into the fu­ture. An­i­mals by na­ture can be un­pre­dictable and you need to ap­pre­ci­ate that.

When I was lit­tle, my fam­ily and I had a cocker spaniel called Cleo (yes, named after the now-de­funct mag­a­zine). But one day mum went gro­cery shop­ping and while tied up out­side a su­per­mar­ket, Cleo snapped at a child who tried to pat her.

Soon after, I came home from school and mum told me she “had to send Cleo away”. I found out much later in life what that ac­tu­ally meant. I don’t know what that sit­u­a­tion was; I was too young, but it con­tin­ues to amaze me how many par­ents al­low their small chil­dren, even tod­dlers, to bound up to strange dogs with­out warn­ing.

All I can say is please don’t. Ap­proach gen­tly, ask if it’s ok, and pro­ceed to in­struct your kids on how to in­ter­act nicely: put their hands out and let them sniff. Hav­ing my dogs’ per­mis­sion to pat them is as im­por­tant as hav­ing mine.

Those who do ask are met with a jovial, “Of course!” from me — I’m not a mon­ster, I know what they look like. These lit­tle fluff nuggets love peo­ple, my boy par­tic­u­larly loves chil­dren be­cause he usu­ally finds some­thing sticky and sweet to lick off their fin­gers.

But the bot­tom line is, re­gard­less of how friendly they ap­pear, you don’t know them. So please: ac­knowl­edge and ask me be­fore you pat my dogs.

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