An acquaintance waved to me as Honey and I walked toward him.
He was walking his friend’s dog.
The two pups were obviously interested in each other so I asked him if it was okay for them to meet. They frolicked a bit. Then the other dog gave Honey a little snark.
I told Honey, “leave it” and the two of us walked a few steps to give the dogs distance from each other.
The man turned to his dog and said, “Good job. Way to communicate.”
I loved it. Someone who really understood how dogs talk.
And it wasn’t even his dog.
Maybe dog culture is better in my town than I thought it was.
What Is Dog Culture?
Perhaps I should explain what I mean by dog culture.
It’s how dogs are thought of and treated by the majority of people in a community.
You might not have heard the phrase before. But you probably know places (or live in one) where most dogs roam freely, those on leash poop freely, and you know of at least two or three backyards with a dog chained to a post or dog house.
Most of us probably live where dog culture is a mix of the positive and the negative.
I know I do.
Ithaca Dog Culture
Ithaca is schizophrenic when it comes to dogs.
Our local SPCA was the first open-admission, no-kill shelter in the U.S. They work very hard to find homes for dogs, including doing extensive behavior work under the guidance of Casey Lomonaco. (If her name is familiar to you, it may be from her blogging at the Dr. Ian Dunbar’s Dog Star Daily website.)
I rarely find poop left behind on our walks. And I regularly see my neighbors clicking and treating their dogs as they work together.
And yet, both our outdoor pedestrian mall and our largest, lakeshore park do not allow dogs at all. Funnily enough, our nearby indoor mall has two pet festivals a year, a grooming business, and an annex for adopting cats from the local SPCA.
Looking for an apartment that allows dogs? I hope you’re wealthy.
And if you’re looking for dog training help at our local library, you will find some great books by Patricia McConnell, Karen Pryor, Pat Miller, and Ian Dunbar.
But you’ll find nearly as many promoting outdated and inhumane “training” techniques as well as a raft of videos by a popular television personality whose shows always start with a “don’t try this at home” warning. Yeah, like we need to learn from a trainer whose advice could be dangerous.
See? Schizophrenic dog culture.
Your Turn: How could you describe the dog culture of your town?