How to make the best out of unpleasant human encounters
Is it fair for a vegetarian to dine at a steakhouse and then get mad at the servers and fellow patrons for eating steak? What do you think?
You may wonder what on earth vegetarians and steakhouses have to do with your dog but, from one dog lover to another, I want to share a story that I am sure you can all relate to.
I live at a ski resort called Whistler in Canada. It is nature’s playground with mountains, lakes and forest as far as the eye can see. It is beautiful and really dog-friendly too. Cross-country skiing in the winter is a fun activity and I have two very keen companions, one of which is a small, but mighty, chocolate Labrador named Diesel.
What he lacks in size he makes up with absolute enthusiasm in everything else, be it swimming, running, eating or cuddling. Our ski adventures got off to an interesting start on day one when he gleefully pranced off with a ski before I could put it on. Thankfully it was not to his liking and there have been no repeat performances. Though I can’t help but hold my breath when he sniffs around someone’s equipment, wondering if he will score a new prize!
Anyway, I’m sad to report our love affair with cross-country skiing recently included a less than enjoyable encounter. Just a few minutes into our ski, when excitement and energy were still at peak levels, he sprinted up to a lady excitedly, but did not jump on her. She yelled at me that it was unacceptable and I should train my dog. Apologies followed and I tried to explain that he is young, new to this and I'm working on training. I was polite and composed but as she kept on yelling, I began to steam inside.
I’m sure you know what I mean, when you figure out apologies and explanations are just not going to cut it. At that point, I tried a different tact, politely pointing out that she was not skiing with a dog and this was a dog-friendly trail and there are plenty of other human-only trails to enjoy in the park. As you can also probably guess that too did not go down particularly well. She felt she should not have to choose where she skis because of what she thought was an ill-mannered dog. Hmmmm.
Well that is the point is it not? She does have a choice and can choose accordingly if she doesn’t want to be bothered by our four-legged friends. She skied off and I didn't see her again. I was upset. My dog didn’t mind at all, other than being anxious to get going again. If only all people could be more like dogs! What is the phrase? Water off a duck’s back, or in this case off a dog’s back.
Thankfully, many people that see this little brown dog laugh commenting that he is pure entertainment and surely no one else is having a better day than him. And they would likely be right.
But, I'm sure you can relate. It's stressful when challenging interactions happen. Diesel and I continue to work on training and go skiing when it’s less busy, but there will always be someone with a young excitable dog out there learning.
A little understanding and patience go a long way for everyone.
I feel like I'm trying to do my best and take care of my dogs with diverse exercise and feeding a raw diet with natural supplements, which is perhaps one of the reasons he has super doggie stamina and speed!
Like you, I am always learning though so please let me know if you have any feedback, stories or suggestions, I would love to hear from you!
© Dr. Peter Dobias