I spend hours every day with my dog Honey. I watch her. I write about her.
You’d think there would be no surprises left.
But just when you think you know a dog, she surprises you.
My Dog Loves Everyone More Than Me
It’s easy to think Honey loves everyone in the world. And that she loves them more than she loves me.
When I get home from work, no gleeful frenzy.
Honey just picks up a toy and greets me quietly at the door with a slowly swishing tail.
But if a friend comes over, or a meter reader, Honey goes nuts.
She can’t get close enough to her new favorite person. She dances around in glee. She leans into the person and rolls half way down to expose her belly for lovies.
Heck, I didn’t even get that after coming home from a month in Panama. Just the same quiet greeting with the slowly swishing tail.
But yesterday I saw something that convinced me that Honey doesn’t really prefer every one in the world to me.
What Your Dog Does When She Doesn’t Know You’re Looking
I don’t like leaving Honey tied outside while I go into a shop to do business.
I’ve done it less than a half-dozen times and only when I know I can do what I need to do in thirty seconds or less (like buying a newspaper). And if I can keep her in my sight.
Mike was out-of-town, so I decided to get a sandwich from the local bagel place. I figured I could pick up something out of the fridge case and be back by Honey’s side in less than a minute. I tied her leash to a table in front of the window and got a perfect view to watch her while I was waiting to pay for my sandwich.
Usually, when Honey and I are waiting together, she looks up eagerly at every stranger who walks by. “Will this person say hello? C’mon over, you know you want to pet me.”
But from inside the shop, I saw Honey turn her back to the people walking by. She was looking for me through the window, but finding it hard to focus.
A woman walked up to greet Honey, petting her ears and stroking her sides. Honey looked at her calmly and stood still for the attention. But there was no wagging or dancing.
After a few moments, Honey turned her head away from the woman and resumed her watch for me.
Did I have it all wrong? Were my worries that Honey would walk off happily with the first person who paid her attention unfounded?
Secure Enough To Have Fun
It was fascinating to see Honey’s interactions with a stranger when I was not by her side.
She looked like an entirely different dog.
And I realized that I had just gotten the perfect visual lesson in how Honey relies on me to give her a secure base from which she can have fun.
Honey can let herself go with strangers and have a blast. She knows that when she’s done, I’ll be there to let her sleep by my side.
So maybe it’s time to stop being jealous of those exciting videos where a dog goes crazy with love for his person who has been away. And to realize that Honey feels her place is beside me. No matter what alluring stranger comes along.
And I certainly won’t assume I know everything there is to know about my dog. Because sometimes, just when you think you know a dog, she’ll surprise you.
Your Turn: Have you ever watched your dog when he or she didn’t know you were watching? Did they do anything to surprise you?