Friends With Dogs

When I adopted my dog Honey, this extrovert had a fantasy. A fantasy of making lots of new friends with dogs.

I have made lots of friends with dogs.

Unfortunately, most of them live scattered around the country and even the world.

Honey the golden retriever is an easy dog.

It’s hard work to keep up with my online friends. Wouldn’t it be easier just to invite everyone to visit us here?

Making Friends With Reactive Dogs

Those of you with dogs who bark and snarl or cower with fear around strange people or dogs know it’s nearly impossible to make new friends with your dog around.

Your main responsibility is to keep your dog comfortable and try to avoid a reaction. It’s not to chit-chat with someone while your dog is getting increasingly tense.

When I was living in Philadelphia with my first reactive dogs, Agatha and Christie, I didn’t have to worry about lots of friendly strangers with dogs. Most of my neighbors had dogs for protection and weren’t interested in friendly interactions.

It wasn’t until shortly before we moved that one of our favorite neighbors got a sweet pit mix as their companion dog. We didn’t bother introducing her to my little bundles of furry terror.

By the time I adopted my last dog, Shadow, I had learned a bit. But walking a dog in the dark at 5 a.m. to avoid meeting other dog walkers is no way to make new friends.

Making Friends With The Dog Who Loves Everyone

Honey came to live with me because I went looking for a dog who would love everyone. The better to be a good foster-sister.

Honey the Golden Retriever tells foster dog Cherie how to find her forever home.

Honey has been patient and kind to all our foster dogs. But Cherie was one of her favorites.

It has been fun meeting other friendly dogs on our walks and giving them time to play with Honey. But those meetings happen by accident. Because none of my near neighbors have dogs. And since I’ve given up my car, it’s been harder to take Honey to dog-friendly activities that happen miles away from my house.

There’s a great agility group almost ten miles from my door. It’s a pretty long bicycle ride, though, and Honey would hate to be confined to the cart for that long even if I could pull her up some huge hills without my heart exploding.

Honey the Golden Retriever rides in her bike trailer.

Yeah, it’s okay for a short trip. But I wouldn’t want to stay in it for long.

I’ve thought of starting a meet-up group for hiking with dogs like some of my internet friends have. But with several gorgeous parks with stunning trails and waterfalls outside the city, I doubt I could convince anyone to explore all the cool downtown walks we’ve found.

The dog park seems like a natural for making new dog-loving friends. But I take Honey early in the morning when there are fewer dogs and the people keep a close watch on their dog’s interactions.

Besides, a six-mile round trip walk is a bit much in the sub-freezing temperatures we’ve had lately.

Making Friends For Life

Actually we have made good friends with someone as crazy about dogs as I am. Maybe more, since she has three of them.

For a couple of years now, Honey has had some excellent playmates I call Mr. Handsome and Lil Punkin Butt.

Honey the golden retriever plays tug with chocolate lab Mr. Handsome.

I don’t care if you’re bigger than me, Mr. Handsome. I’m the champion tugger in this house.

They came to stay with us for a few months and we’ve been friends with them and their human ever since.

Mr. Handsome is a sturdy chocolate lab who outweighs Honey by at least thirty pounds and likes the same style of rough play she does. Unlike with many of our foster puppies and smaller visiting dogs, Honey doesn’t have to hold back. She can wrestle as rough as she likes. Mr. Handsome can take it.

At first, Lil Punkin Butt wasn’t too sure about Honey. She’d try to keep Mr. Handsome to herself and he’d bounce back and forth between his two adoring females.

But over time, even the little Boston terrier and the fuzzy golden retriever have become friends, giving friendly, wrestling greetings when they visit and playing peaceful games of three-way tug with their favorite boyfriend.

Lil Punkin Butt the Boston terrier cuddles with Mike.

Lil Punkin Butt is happy to cuddle when she’s not being pulled around by Mr. Handsome and Honey on the end of a tug toy.

Today our puppy friends and their hu-mom are moving to a new home. We’re really happy for them. But we’ll miss visiting with them in the few remaining months we’ll be living in our own home.

Who knows. Maybe we’ll sail close to their new home and get to rock the boat with some crazy puppy wrestling action.

Making Friends Online

I feel guilty writing every weekday while barely visiting Facebook or other places I hang out online with my online dog-loving friends.

In truth, the daily writing is an important discipline for me. And what is more fun to write about than the dog I love? But I miss the usual time I spend reading about my other dog friends.

Right now, I’m really jonesing for the week my house goes on the market. I think I’ll have more time and I look forward to getting caught up with my dog friends the way some people fantasize about sinking into a hot bath.

When I think about dog friends, I think of Cooper and Emma and Max and Blueberry and Jimmy and Wilson and Harley and Sheba and Tavish and Bella and Daisy and… Well, you get the idea.

Many of the folks I consider doggy friends are people I “meet” online. Or folks who share great stories about their dogs in the comments here (and if you’re not publicity shy, tell us your dogs’ names; it’s really fun to have a name to pin to the stories).

I’ve been amazed at how much I have come to care about the medical ailments of dogs I’ve never met. How I root for the doggy athletes competing for titles. How much I enjoy pictures of dogs visiting beautiful places all over the world.

I feel like Honey and I have made lots of dog-loving friends even if we never physically meet most of them.

Honey the Golden Retriever gets an ear massage from her special friend Kirsten.

The woman says you write The Peaceful Dog blog. I don’t know what that means. But I’m sure glad you came to scratch my ears.

Dogs Are Naturals At Making Friends

Dogs and humans belong together.

And even dogs who don’t feel comfortable meeting strangers can become our friends thanks to the amazing power of the internet.

I hope that in the years to come, Honey continues to introduce us to new friends—whether online, on other cruising sailboats, or on islands and countries we visit in our travels.

Because truthfully? She has great taste in friends. She loves everyone.

Your Turn: Are you an extrovert who likes the idea of making friends with your dog and other dog lovers? Or do you feel like the love of your own furry family is enough for you?

 

 

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Comments

  1. We don’t have too many friends in North Carolina as the majority of our friends are in NY, but we haven’t really made any dog friends either. There are so many dogs in my neighborhood, but Bailey only plays with one regularly. It’s a little tough because most people out here are a little more old school with their dogs.

    One neighbor expressed some interest in a playdate but said we’d have to pick up an electric collar so Bailey would stay within their invisible fence. Sorry, lady, I’m not shocking my dog because you didn’t want to put up a proper fence. This is the same problem we have next door. Bailey would LOVE a playdate with her brother, but they don’t have a real fence and naturally, he’s afraid of leaving the yard.

    I’m also very anxious about dog parks because that many dogs in one place makes me very nervous. My trainer just told me about one not too far from my house that is usually very quiet. She rarely sees more than 10 people there even at its busiest so I might give that a shot.

  2. Having dogs has been a huge icebreaker for me, because I am a generally quiet person. And I like being around people, but I’m better at listening to them than talking. I have always been glad that we became friends online because of blogging and I am hoping that one of these days, we’ll meet in person again.

    I can also sympathize with the guilt of not being able to catch up with friends. Life has been busy for me lately and I feel really behind, both in blog visiting and online interaction. So, just know you’re not alone and I love ya!

    And for anybody reading who cares, my dogs aren’t shy at all! Bunny, Flattery, Morgan and Küster are all happy to meet people and be the center of attention!

  3. We’ve lived here in Panama City for 4 months, and I have met quite a few people in my nieghborhood thanks to Rumpy. Sarah and her human live two doors down; the human once had a Malamute. Ozzie the terrier introduced me to another neighbor. And Charlie the artist used to live in Colorado and had friends there that had Malamutes. We’re not friends in that we go to each other’s homes and such, but it’s good to make a connection with others, and Rumpy facilitates those introductions.

  4. I love to be by myself and my dogs but I have and love meeting new friends all over the world. I once jumped on a plane and went to the uk to meet up with a gal who bought one of my puppies. Great adventure.

  5. I tend toward the quiet side, but my dogs always make me new friends. Cardigans are silly looking dogs so lots of people approach to ask about them. Such good ice breakers! And then there is agility….It brought me many new like-minded friends!

    Whenever I think about maybe letting my blog go (and regaining all that time), I think of all the people I will miss. I think that keeps me blogging every bit as much as wanting a photographic history of my dogs. Funny how you can care so much for people you have never met!

  6. Beware the dog park! We have a TINY yard, and I liked to go to the dog park with them so they can run and really stretch their legs. I liked meeting other dog people. However, one day I overheard someone saying they had heard that a lot of dogs were getting sick after getting in the water (we live in Louisiana…..there is mud and water everywhere there’s an indention in the ground). One of mine ended up sick. Our vet says that she gets lots of business from the dog park. So if you take your dogs to the dog park, beware of the potential ills of the water hole. :(

  7. I am definitely on the quiet side and it’s amazing how my goldens really tend to “break the ice” with their friendly manner, if we are out at the park or in a store. I have met so many wonderful people both in person and here online. Wouldn’t trade it or them for the world! Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. I love the story of how you chose Honey because she would have the best chance to be an excellent foster sister and a wonderful friend finder. There is no better reason in the world to add a dog to your life than that and I admire you so much for it. I am also hoping that one day I will get to meet you both in person but if that never happens it’s okay. Sometimes online friends are the best ones there are and they are certainly worth as much as any other form of friendship.

    The discipline you have to keep writing on a regular basis is also inspiring. When things get busy or routines change it is so easy to drop the little things we do only for ourselves. But they are just as important as the things we do for others, aren’t they? It takes work to make them happen. I am so glad you are able to keep going despite all the zaniness of your current situation.

  9. We stay far, FAR away from the dog park because of the lack of owner responsibility and the ill mannered dogs that end up going. I wish I had more friends in town with dogs but most of my doggy friends are through the blogs that I follow and keep up with.
    Dante and Ziva get lots of social time through daycare, and when we visit my mom and her two dogs. I’d love to meet up with more people but I find scheduling to be a bit of a challenge.
    However recently thanks to getting into agility we’ve made more doggy friends, swapped some numbers and I’m hoping this summer we can have some doggy play dates. :-)

  10. We’re waiting for dogs to be allowed on airplanes so we can fly and visit our friends around the world. I think many humans would prefer sitting next to a dog than those bratty screaming kids. Until then, we don’t have too many pet friends…everyone has kids and no dog or a dog that is a second class citizen. Kind of sad as in Germany we had lots of childless friends with dogs but it is such a long swim over the ocean to go back and visit.

  11. I’m definitely an introvert – and our Reactive Rita is too, so we are a happy pair. But our last dog, Abby, was a “love everybody and everything” extrovert so we were forced to talk to people and make friends. Some of those folks & their pups are still friends with Rita, which is nice. I also made a few really good online friends because of Abby and her 3-leggedness and joining an online support group. I consider one of those gals one of my best buddies, even though I’ve never even met her! But we email each other almost every day.

    Anyway, the concept of an introvert with an extrovert dog was so interesting to me, I wrote about it in my last novel!

  12. I’m enjoying the friends I meet locally as well as those I’ve met online. Harley helps me meet many people and pets for that matter. He’s super friendly so that works well with my personality. I love the gentleness you write about pertaining to Honey. She seems like such a loving dog.

  13. Since I am an introvert and a homebody, I’m happy having multiple dogs and letting them play amongst themselves at home. But if I meet someone else with a dog on a walk, that will be the person I’ll stop and talk to….dogs have a way of breaking the ice for even a shy person like me.

    • I’m not much of an introvert, and I always loved walking my dog and being retired is a big help to, but I lost him in 2014 to old age and spine problems, he to, was a “love everyone” kind of guy, a sweet lab/foxhound mix, I’ll always miss him. I now rescued a long haired
      Chihuahua, she is so sweet, lucky for me!!! But now, no one recognizes me when I go walking everywhere I use to walk with “my boy”……….I am always looking for some soul who likes to socialize and especially on walk, but seems even to meet someone is so very
      hard to do………..but I say, just keep trying. That’s what “travis” would have said to!

  14. “And even dogs who don’t feel comfortable meeting strangers can become our friends thanks to the amazing power of the internet.” I have to add to that “and dogs who aren’t comfortable meeting other dogs”, like Callie and Shadow. They LOVE meeting humans, but are very picky about other dogs…mostly because I didn’t have the time or discipline to keep them properly socialized when they were younger…but some of my closest friends are those I have met only in cyberspace. I would love to have the opportunity to meet you all in person one day, but like Kristine said, it’s okay if it doesn’t happen because y’all still mean as much to me as the friends I have “offline”.

  15. So grateful that I have had the privilege of being your “in person” friend and now your long distance dog buddy!

    McTavish and Teddi wish Honey a WARM start to March :)

  16. Before Blueberry came along, I never thought much about my dogs making friends with other dogs. While Blueberry has never been particularly outgoing and people-loving like your Honey, she’s pretty docile and will tolerate people wanting to meet her – if they have treats or smell like food, she will show a lot of interest in them. It took me a while to get used to being stopped so people could ask about Blueberry. I am an extreme introvert and it can be draining for me to have to stop and talk with people. These days, I really don’t mind it and Blueberry has made a lot of friends. It cracks me up that when I walk around the park, Blueberry’s human friends will shout out, “Hi Blueberry! How are you today?” and I am mostly ignored.

    I remember a small group of us that used to go to the same park around the same time of day with our dogs. The dogs all knew each other well and liked each other – even Blueberry was accepted and enjoyed visiting with them. A couple of the women decided it wasn’t right that we didn’t know any of the human names, so we all introduced ourselves (I wanted to crawl into a hole, but participated anyway). Even after that, I still only remember the dog names. :)

  17. One of the best things about adopting a Greyhound is that, if you choose to, you can also acquire a whole new family of people :) I have chosen to do that and now have many new acquaintances with a common love of their breed of dog. And made some good friends. As I’m something of a hermit my online life is more social than my offline life. But I do get out and about with Beryl and Asher as much as possible to spread the Greyhound love! I really need another dog though, as I always feel bad leaving Frankie home alone.

    I so admire your discipline in writing every day. I’m struggling to put up a photo 3 times a week right now. It’s not for lack of photos though, lol! I spend way too much time taking and playing with photos and, before I know it, I don’t have any time left to do blog reading. I need your discipline!