Why do so many people want to pat the head of a dog, and worse … one they don’t know?
We don’t pat each others heads as greetings. I don’t recall ever seeing a cute baby’s head being patted. In fact, I don’ t think that I have even seen anybody patting a cuddly teddy’s head! So why the dog’s head patting?
As for not knowing the dog? That again is alien to our instincts, in that most of us don’t greet total strangers with physical contact, unless the circumstances are particularly unusual. Most of us do not really form an opinion about anybody based purely on appearance, and yet this is deemed irrelevant to many people when approaching a dog (which could be equivalent to facing a loaded gun!).
I cannot write this Post without mentioning the huggers! I have never seen two dogs hug each other, and must therefore conclude they do not make contact in that way (at least not in public). Not only do so many people want to hug a dog (usually children so possible furry teddy complex?), but they try with dogs they don’t know. To all parents of such children, I would like to say “Go out an give total strangers hugs and, while one or two may appreciate it, it is likely that you will get reactions ranging from physical rejection (who are you?) to a police record (assault charge)!” All children should be made aware that dogs, just like people, are all different. None can be assumed to be receptive to touching, but all are likely to have teeth which may be used as a self-defense reaction!
Then there are the mimics! These are the people who will “growl” or “bark” at a dog. I am pretty sure that it is done for perceived fun (?), and equally sure that Ray can tell the difference between a human growl and a canine growl, but what if he reacted anyway? How much “fun” would it be if Ray reacted aggressively to a human “growler” (usually men!)?
I have mentioned in a number of earlier Posts, Ray’s progress from being totally averse to human contact, to now being Mr. Sociable. His final hurdle in this “program” is to be receptive to people with mobility issues. Erratic behavior, and a walking stick/cane (or similar) have been particularly sensitive issues for him. He seems to have now adjusted to people in wheel chairs.
We were out a short time ago, when we met a lady in a wheel chair. He greeted her in his usual (“I’ll probably get a treat for this!”) manner, and she was clearly pleased by all the attention he was giving her … which, for Ray, seemed a little excessive. We asked if she had a dog at home that he could perhaps scent. The answer was no, but she did have three cats.
We expressed our surprise, and explained that Ray really … REALLY … does not like cats. He becomes very aggressive and transforms into something close to an angry rhinoceros (use your imagination!). How did the lady respond? She meowed at him!
We’re an odd species! Food for thought.