Over the past week I have had two incidents while out walking with each of my pups, respectively, that have left a HUGE smile on my face. These were moments where I was observant of others around me. Watching what they were doing (or not doing, in incident #2) with their dog.
Tuesday, early morning.
Laura and Fanny's morning walk.
I was out walking with Ms. Fanny and saw up ahead the "The Doodle Jogger" coming down the street toward us. (Aaron and I have nicknames for certain dog/human teams in our neighborhood that are memorable...both for good and bad "stuff." This is one of the "good" people.) The Doodle Jogger was on her morning jog and has always been respectful of the space around other people...whether they have dogs or not...and often times moves completely off the sidewalk and into the street or even to the other sidewalk. Tuesday morning was no exception. Fanny always notices The Doodle Jogger and perks up her head at the 4-legged crew member. They've never had an exchange of words and, admittedly, the doodle has very lovely, non-confrontational body language. The one thing I noticed this particular morning as I was watching them, was that right after the Doodle team passed us the human quietly said, "Good dog, (insert name here)" and pulled out a tasty treat from her pocket and delivered it to her trusty, furry companion. I smiled...ear-to-ear...at this exchange of simple, concise and beautiful communication. The Doodle Jogger just moved up a few more notches in my book.
Thursday, after work.
Laura and Oscar's evening walk.
Oscar and I have been having great moments on our walks for the past number of weeks. This week alone we have walking up and back North Ave. multiple times while people are busy coming in and out of shops, restaurants and gas stations. We don't stop to chat with anyone but keep going...together (Oscar likes to keep things moving - both himself and other people/dogs around us). On Thursday evening, I decided to walk us down North Avenue a few blocks, then take a turn and walk through the neighborhood a bit. We were walking along very well, then all of a sudden a kid (probably about 8-10 y/o) came around the corner of a house riding his bike and just stopped at the corner on the sidewalk. He was about 15 feet away from Oscar who hadn't noticed him because his was busy sniffing a huge tree trunk. I kept my cool and just let Oscar continue sniffing. I had my treats ready at the hip to reward him for good decision making when he would, inevitably, get stared at by the kid. Well, guess what? That didn't happen. The kid looked over at us briefly and smiled at Oscar and me then, turned his head and body away from us and continued to wait at the corner. I gave Oscar a very nice, calm "good job buddy" as I slipped him a treat, then we walked right past the kid who still continued to wait. As we crossed the street, I looked around to see who or what he was waiting for and saw his father and their gorgeous St. Bernard (whom I see weekly) coming down the sidewalk about 1/2 block back. Knowing the father a little bit, I know he has taught his child to respect dogs and greet them properly, if at all. It was a great feeling I had and as I continued to cross the road, I looked back to the father and their dog and smiled and did a little wave.
These beautiful moments...these positive encounters of the same kind...make me hopeful that the change in tide is happening. People are becoming more educated and receptive to the power of positive training and aren't afraid to do it in public, no matter what time it is.