Recently I read an article where the writer was outlining some of their pet peeves about living in the city. One of the pet peeves that she mentioned was when a large or aggressive looking dog jumps on or runs towards someone (especially a child) who may be afraid of them, or just not like dogs, and inevitably the owner will call out “Don’t worry! She’s friendly” all while allowing the dog to continue the bad behaviour.
This hit home for me because I have been guilty of uttering these same words in the past. Usually when an overly enthusiastic Avy starts towards a child or an adult and they look apprehensive about her motives. My reason for the statement is not to try and excuse her behaviour and it’s certainly not to allow the behaviour to continue…it’s simply to let the person that she is approaching know that she isn’t aggressive – she isn’t going to bite or growl or attempt to do any harm. I will call her back or if she is on leash put her on a short leash so she can’t jump up or engage in any of the obnoxious behaviours that we so often see dogs exhibit, but I will usually do it while saying “she’s friendly – just enthusiastic”.
I’m now re-thinkng my use of this phrase. Does it matter to the person on the receiving end of Avy’s attention that she’s friendly? If they don’t like dogs – probably not – they don’t care if she’s friendly or not, they don’t want her around them. If it’s a parent who’s concerned about the safety of their child, or a child who is afraid of large dogs in general – also probably not – again, they just don’t want her around them. So I think from now on I am going to continue doing what I do – calling Avy back and keeping her on a short leash if she is feeling playful around those who may not want to play – but without the phrase. I’ll save the “yes, she’s friendly” for those who approach US and ask if they can pat her or play with her…otherwise, I’m putting this particular one away.