Assume the Best – Good for the Dog; Good for You

If someone fails to return your phone call, they’re obviously an inconsiderate jerk (and not just forgetful).

A friend who just gives you a birthday card when you sent a $50 flower arrangement for her birthday last month is a rude cheap skate (they couldn’t possibly be struggling financially).

And obviously, the guy who cuts you off in traffic is a serial killer in a hurry to claim his next victim (instead of someone who got distracted when his kids started fighting in the backseat).

How many times a day do we assume the worst about people?

Honey the Golden Retriever snoozes with Bailey the Boston terrier.

You never want to play with me. But I’ll just assume it’s because you already have a big goofy playmate and not because you’re a selfish little pumpkin butt.

Unfortunately, assuming the worst is a trap. It damages relationships as well as hindering our interactions with strangers. We’re better off if we “assume positive intent” about the people in our lives.

I’m not very good at it. Luckily, I have a positive role model in Honey. She’s the queen of assuming the best about others.

Honey assumes everyone loves her. She makes happy overtures to everyone she meets. Some dogs respond with a play bow and interested sniffing. Others hide behind their people or turn away with a little sniff.

Some people get down on the ground and share in Honey’s happy dance. Others pull away and show the standard signs of someone who finds dogs a nuisance.

Luckily dogs don’t think themselves into hurt feelings the way people do.

Honey assumes everyone wants to play with her. But when she finds it’s not true, she settles down and directs her attention elsewhere.

There’s a good lesson there.

Assuming the best about everyone I meet is probably a good idea. But Honey’s lesson doesn’t end there. Once someone proves that they aren’t interested (or that they don’t have positive intent) it’s time to ignore them and move on.

Honey the Golden Retriever looks at the laptop.

My name is Honey. And I approve this message.

As Honey has learned, it’s not worth trying to convince someone to like you who just isn’t interested. Assume the best. But let go of the worst. It’s good advice, for the dog and for me.

Your Turn: Who is better at assuming the best about people and dogs? You? Or your dog? Has assuming the worst ever caused problems?

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  1. Oh my dogs are much better at it…well Jack is, Maggie tends to assume the worst – her fear takes over sometimes. Our Sally was like Honey – the “I’m so lovable, so of course you love me” attitude. Maggie tends to be wary – even after she gets to know you. She’s making great progress though and maybe some of her newly found confidence will start to rub off on my, a die-hard introvert.

  2. Wesley seems to think that all people are up to no good, and tends to bark and be fearful. Something we’re working on! He needs to take a few lessons from your Honey!As for me, I try to think the best of people as I can. It doesn’t always work of course, but I do try!

  3. Del thinks that everyone is a saint, and I admire that in a way. I think us humans need to lighten up a bit and try and see more good in the world than focus on the bad. Another reason why dogs are awesome :)

  4. Both Roxy and Torrey assume everyone is there friend. Only once has Torrey growled and backed way from a stranger. I assumed he was a bad guy after that.

  5. great advice, especially relevant right now!

  6. Great advice, and a WONDERFUL post. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. I am definitely subscribing to Honey’s advice column!
    My dogs assume the best most of the time. Ike is a little skittish at the vet’s!

  8. Frankie assumes all foster dogs want to play with him and the way he likes to play. That worked until foster dog number 5, Mambo. He is a very soft soul and like most GH’s had probably never met anything other than GH’s. Frankie puzzled him and Mambo puzzled Frankie. So Frankie changed his approach rapidly, toned down and kept making playful overtures but not pushing it. His strategy took 2 weeks to work but Mambo did learn to play with Frankie and love it and Frankie learned that playing a bit gentler can still be a whole lot of fun. So Frankie’s advice would probably be that if your first assumption isn’t quite right if you try a different tack and be prepared to compromise then you still can have a rewarding outcome :)

    Beryl’s assumption that all foster dogs are a nuisance hasn’t changed and she hasn’t shown any signs of compromising … she’s missing out on a lot of fun, silly girl.

  9. Good point, we always approach people thinking they will love us, especially my puppy sister Bailie. The thought that they don’t want us around never enters our minds! Something interesting for Mom to contemplate.

  10. Maya assumes everyone loves her but my mom’s dog Rocky is way over the top. He is 70lbs or so and tries to sit in the lap of anyone who comes over. It doesn’t matter if they don’t like dogs. Rocky will win them over, by sitting on them if necessary. :)

  11. Assuming the worst ALWAYS causes problems when it’s me. When it’s my dogs, then I listen. But like your pup, our dogs assume the best in everyone.


    That’s not right. Blue loudly assumes that if you’re on our property without his prior approval, then you’re up to no good and he’s going to let you know. This confuses the UPS guy, who has Rodrigo coming at him for affection, Sydney coming (barking loudly) for a treat, and Blue coming (barking loudly and sounding scary).

    Maybe I should check out that UPS guy.

  12. Vlad & Barkly's Dee says:

    MOST of the time Vlad is really great with people. We’ve met one woman that he wanted to keep away from me, and several men. Children are ALWAYS loved. Me, I just always assume someone’s okay until he tells me they’re not. *shrug* It’s easier to have a barometer with 4 legs than it is to have to think about it. Barkly seems to hold back and wait to see if Vlad will go to the person too.

    Something that I’ll automatically assume about people: Seeing someone out in public that can’t get off their phones and pay attention to the children that are with them. I automatically assume that they’re crappy parents because they’re not paying attention to those children (many are whining and tugging at the parent) at one of the times that is most important to pay attention. There are all kinds of psychos out there these days, and it seems to me that they just don’t care that those children could be taken by someone in the blink of an eye.

  13. I usually think the best of people and sometimes that turns on me. I give people the benefit of the doubt. I probably should be more leery of people to prevent me from being disappointed. BJ is like Honey. He thinks everyone will like him and will go over to people to play.

  14. Well I am, of course! woo woo woo!!!!!

  15. Callie and Shadow are both like Honey when it comes to humans. Other dogs, not so much –they tend to be a little territorial.

    Ducky is just the opposite — makes New doggie friends easily but is wary around humans if I’m there…that territorial thing, ya know.

    Then there’s me — I don’t have much patience with people who continuously drive like they own the road and you have no right being in their way. As for those not interested in contact with me? Fine. It’s their loss, not mine.

  16. Hands down the dogs. I’m a suspicious sort myself. đŸ˜€