FETCH PERMISSION BEFORE YOU PAT
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.