Talking to Dogs

In her book “Watching the English”, Kate Fox has a chapter titled “Rules of Play”. It addresses such mundane things such as “reading rules”, or “Shopping rules”; it also includes a section on “Petiquette”. This section notes “The average Englishman will assiduously avoid social interaction with his fellow humans*….he will have no difficulty at all, however, in engaging in lively, amicable conversation with a dog. Even a strange dog, to whom he has not been introduced.”

I thought, really, that this was all written to be a bit tongue in cheek.

Until this weekend.

Macy and I were out for a long walk, and we ventured into town. Passing numerous strangers, most of them looked away when I smiled, nodded or said hello. However, about half of them did look at Macy, and say “Oh, aren’t you a lovely little puppy”. Macy then stopped in front of an elderly gentleman (dogs DO know who the dog people are) who promptly bent down to give her a scratch behind the ears. “Oh, aren’t you friendly? What is your name little boy? Or are you a girl? Oh, pink collar, you must be a girl. And how old are you?”

All harmless enough. Until you add in the one little tidbit – when I responded to him (for Macy, since SHE can’t talk, and thank goodness for that, or I’d go deaf in this house) “Her name is Macy” or “She’s 7 months old” – he SCOWLED at me. As if to say “Excuse me, I’m talking to the DOG. Not you.”

Now, you may write this off to be a one-off, but then it happened again. Twice. And not just the only-talking-to-the-dog bit, but the annoyance when I answered them.

The book didn’t give any advice as to how to handled the non-human-directed talk.

Basically, the ONLY people who spoke to the human at the end of the lead were the two ladies who also owned blue roan cocker spaniels. Kindred souls.

If she could, I would consider having her carry a note in her mouth that reads:

But the reality is, she’d just eat it. So I’ll just have to continue being the annoying human at the end of the lead.

*Note: I must confess have not found this to be true unless one finds oneself in a clothing shop, where it is impossible to get anyone to interrupt their conversation with a fellow salesperson in order to speak to you OR if you are my father, trying to get a pint at one of the local pubs, who shall remain nameless.

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