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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?