I’ve Got a Dog, Talk to Me!

Yesterday we nipped to the shops for a few bits and bobs. Since we were struggling to fit this unexpected, yet necessary trip in our busy schedule, we decided to take George with us. After all, a dog does need the occasional road walk to wear his nails down, so a visit to our local supermarket instead of the regular afternoon stroll through the marsh sounded like a good idea.

When we reached our destination, I sent my husband in to fight his way through the wave of early afternoon shoppers and sat on a wall to wait for him. Finally, a few minutes peace and quiet whilst George investigates the nearby bushes. Or so I thought.

During the 20 minutes wait, four people stopped to talk to me. One was an old man who had a little Jack Russel and wanted to make friends. Two were elderly couples who used to have dogs and knew a thing or two about whippets. The last one was a young woman with a little girl who wanted to make a fuss of George.

Maybe they couldn’t resist his sweet face?


I can’t deny that I’ve quite enjoyed talking to these people. They were all nice in their own way. But I can’t keep wondering…Would they have stopped to talk to me if I was alone? I don’t think so.

We grow up hearing that we should not talk to strangers in the street. People we don’t know can be dangerous. You never know what criminal thoughts lie hidden inside an innocent-looking 85-year-old lady. You can never tell. A young(ish) person – like myself – perched on a brick wall around the back of a supermarket is surely up to no good and to be avoided. But…Hold on!…She’s got a dog! Oh, she’s all right then, let’s stop for a chat!

So what is it about having a dog that draws people towards you? Wandering the streets with a dog by your side seems to somehow label you a model citizen, making it OK for you to hang around in the strangest of places. It kind of makes you safe to interact and talk to.

It’s the same with kids. As a decent person, you would never contemplate approaching a child other than your own in a park or in the street. This kind of misdirected friendliness would attract at least a few condemning looks from passers-by and could land you in a lot of trouble. But if you’ve got a child with you, then you’re suddenly a trustworthy person and everybody relaxes around you. If you’re the join-in-the-fun type, you could even end up with a bunch of little people clinging onto your trousers and jumping on your back. Oh, isn’t he/she good with children!, you’ll hear the sit-on-the-bench-and-watch-type (grand)parents whisper to each other approvingly.

I’ve heard of a number of men who have ‘borrowed’ their friends’ children to pick up women. Successfully. Films have been made about this. Films have also been made about men using dogs to pick up women. Successfully. (Think of 101 Dalmatians).

No wonder the strategy works. In today’s world, children and dogs seem to qualify you as being safe. It’s like having a safety certificate tattooed on your head. Or like an invite to an intimate, friendly chat. Or both. To me, sitting on that wall with George felt like I was wearing a big sign that said “I’ve got a dog, talk to me!”.

So here are my questions for you. Do you find yourselves the centre of attention when out and about with your dogs? Do you suddenly become Mr. or Mrs. Popularity when you’re attached to the end of a lead? Do strangers ever approach you to tell you how beautiful your dog is and half an hour later they’re still telling you their life story?



Filed under Whilst walking the dog

38 responses to “I’ve Got a Dog, Talk to Me!

  1. I can absolutely see how George is a magnet with passers-by. What a charmer! Dogs certainly are an ice-breaker between strangers—we had a similar experience this afternoon at the park. We were walking Maple and, when we made a pit-stop, we were approached by two young girls, a teenage boy, and a middle-aged lady with her four-legger. If Maple had not been with us, the chances of us striking up a conversation with these folks would have been very slim. I think it’s a wonderful thing that we’ve been able to meet people from all walks-of-life, thanks to Maple 😀

  2. I definitely think dogs can be magnets for conversation. And as you point out, that has its pros and cons. Because Grace is nervous in busy places with new people, we don’t usually take her places that we might take a well-adjusted dog. On our daily walks, we will sometimes run into another person on the road but they typically don’t stop and talk because Grace is barking and growling at them! If I know the person, we’ll stop and Grace will settle down, but otherwise, she acts as a natural “we-don’t-want-to-stop-and-talk-to-you” deterrent!

    • Oh, Gracie baby, you’re ruining your parents’ social life, girl! I can understand people’s attraction to her, because she looks small and sweet. I can also picture the surprised look on their faces when Grace shouts out that she doesn’t want to talk to them 😉

      • As usual, you have captured the scene perfectly. Grace does have that sweet look that draws people in, then they are quite surprised when she shouts at them!! Of course, I’d love for Grace to accept their kind gestures and eventually she does, but she’s slow to warm up to anyone!

  3. Great idea for a blog post. My answer is a very big, YES! We are constantly approached when Gus is with us – and many times it’s the exact same situation as you mentioned, where one of us is outside waiting. There’s something so comforting about doggers that people can’t resist stopping to say hello.

    Often when we’re on the River Walk, tourists will stop us to say hi to Gus and to tell us how much they miss their dogs (if they’re traveling without). It’s nice to know that he brings smiles to people’s faces.

    I know if we were out and about and saw handsome George outside, we’d definitely stop to say hello. 😀

    Happy Friday and weekend, Didi!

    • We’d stop to talk to you, too. You’re right, it’s nice to see the sight of your dog bringing smiles to people’s faces. The company (even for a short while) of a nice, well-behaved dog has quite a therapeutic effect on people, I’ve noticed. I can see how Gus fits into that category. I’m thousands of miles away from you, but I look forward to your posts and new photos of your little sunshine 🙂

  4. I totally can relate with this one. I get comments at least once every time I am out with Luna. Having a more rare breed we get asked what she is often, but slowly it is starting to change to “is that a Vizsla?.” the latter of which I do not like, as I like having a mystery dog. The best one I got was “is that a greyhound?”

    The one side of this that I don’t appreciate are the people that assume I want to let their dog say “hi” to my dog, while their dog is pulling at the end of their leash staring my dog down. So I take the blame and say no thank you rather than put my dog in that situation.
    Ah the joys of having “pretty/cute/rare dogs”
    Keep on talkin’ 😉

    • Vizslas are rare around here, too, at least where we live. A lot of the whippet people I know, who live in the countryside and are into hunting with their dogs, are into Vizslas as well, and I’ve learnt about this breed from them. I’ve been admiring them for a while now, I love their sporty built and beautiful coat, and the ears are to die for. From what I’ve read in your posts and have heard from my friends, they’re dogs with lovely temperaments, too. And Luna is gorgeous, so how can people not stop?
      “Is that a greyhound?” – 😀 That’s a funny one…We get asked if George is a baby greyhound all the time, but then he does look like one and not everybody has heard of whippets.

  5. I definitely find myself in that situation… the most random series of people will come up to meet Gwynn nearly every walk. To comment on how pretty he is, to ask what breed he is, or to tell me about the dog they used to have. I have had at least three people stop their cars to lean out the window to comment about Gwynn. It really is like having a “not a creeper” sign on your forehead.

    • “Not a creeper” sign, I like that. I also like Gwynn, I’ve admired him on your blog the other day. He looks like a big softie to me, so I can see why people fall for him. People hanging out of their car windows? Being too pretty can be a traffic hazard, apparently…

  6. I’ve found just having a dog’s picture on your desk can have the same effect. And I hope they weren’t out of “bits and bobs” when you and your hubby “nipped to the shops”. Personally, I hate when that happens. Then you have to nip back home completely bitless and bobless.

    • LOL, you always make me laugh. No, we didn’t have to go back home bitless and bobless (maybe we should start a new English dictionary, you can be in charge of made-up words), they had everything we wanted. But yes, I do hate it when I sacrifice some of my time to go shopping (which I hate) and I end up returning home empty handed.
      Would that be Bogie’s photo on your desk?

  7. I certainly relate to this. I have gotten into many conversations with strangers mainly due to having Bailey with me. I’ve been hit on by a homeless man that look like a woman because of having Bailey with me. Heck, 3 years ago I moved here to Boston knowing no one except Craig. The friends I have made have all been because of Bailey.

    • We were the same when we moved here, didn’t know anyone. Now we’ve got a reasonable number of friends, and they’re all dog people we’ve meet whilst walking George.
      Bailey the people magnet …Quite appropriate…

  8. I’m constantly approached by strangers during our adventures in the park! If Oscar wasn’t with me, I could probably walk two laps around the grounds without anyone initiating conversation. One of the most common questions I’m asked is what kind of dog Oscar is. I suppose he does look a little mysterious. 😉

    One time a lady actually squealed when she saw him, while another lady muttered to her to friend, “That’s a fat dog.” (There’s just more to love!) On the bright side, Oscar’s diet is going so well that he’s noticeably slimmer.

    • Oh, sweet Oscar the mystery guy! Secret agent in disguise! Can’t imagine anyone not falling in love with his cute face, and nasty ladies can keep their comments to themselves. I hate it when people feel like they have to do that. Why can’t they just mind their own business if they don’t have anything nice to say? I didn’t know Oscar was on a diet…Good luck with it. x

  9. Kas

    Great post!! First off, who can resist George’s lovely mug? I would certainly stop to talk to you so that I could get to George. 😉

    But yes, dogs definitely draw attention to people. When we used to walk the dogs on campus, student after student would stop to pet the pups saying, “Oh how I miss my dog at home!” People constantly stop us when we have Kylie and Diesel especially, mainly because they’re interested in what kind of dogs they are and because they seem to be intrigued by their “cool/weird/beautiful/interesting/striking/etc” colors (definitely not your average dog!). And when we have all 4 dogs on a walk together, we’ll get stopped or at least constantly stared at as to why we’re such crazy dog people. 😛

    • Oh, thanks, I can say exactly the same about your pups. They do have striking markings that draw your eyes straight away. Not your average dog for def, and you’re a lucky mum to have them. I have to admit that walking 4 dogs together could sound a bit …much…but it doesn’t mean you’re crazy. You’re true dog people, and it’s fine for you to have as many dogs you like, because you’re prepared to put a lot of effort into training them and looking after them properly.

      • Kas

        4 dogs is definitely a good amount of work, but to us, it’s definitely worth it — we can’t imagine life any other way!

  10. Your writing style is so engaging. George is gorgeous and dogs can be magnetic as you have described. My husband refers to our Pomeranian as “the chick magnet”. He’s a friendly dog with a lovely coat and he attracts more ladies and kids than men. The girls are Chihuahuas and they ttract men more than women and kids. Provided it’s not a an aggressive one slathering at the mouth and snarling on the end of a chain … lol:D But wherever one goes with a dog, we will attract other dog lovers for sure.

    • Thank you so much for the nice compliment, it means a lot coming from you. I like the sound of your “chick magnet”, he definitely sounds like he’s a ladies’ man. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the one who blogs whilst lying on your knees? Maybe men are attracted to your chihuahuas because they’re girls? I’m thinking chemistry, and all that. Having said that, I’ve met a good number of men who are absolutely smitten with chihuahuas …This makes me think of Sara’s evil catwoman’s posts, I know you read too 🙂

      I’d love to see a photo of your fur babies one day. I know your feed them raw food like we do with George, so I’m expecting them to be shining-healthy and glowing with happiness and energy. x

  11. Well done. . . and very accurate. You are so right that somehow people see a dog and thus know the person attached must be okay. Then the chatting starts. This post also reminded me how much I miss having a dog. Not, for the conversations with strangers but for the companionship of the dog!

    • Hi, Patti, and thanks for stopping by my blog. I’d be interested to know how you found it? Anyway, I appreciate the nice comment, and I’m sorry if I made you sad. I don’t know how it’s like to miss your dog or having a dog, since George is my first. But I have a pretty good idea how devastated we’ll be when he leaves. I guess once you’ve had a dog, there’s always a gap in your life that can’t be filled by anything else than another dog.
      I’ll go check out your blog now. Have a nice weekend.

  12. Yes Yes Yes! As a very single woman I find having ‘the boys’ a great conversation starter, most usefull when the person who wants to talk to me is a man of similar vintage – with a wife, somehow the fact that I have my dogs with me means it’s ok to talk to me and the wife won’t mind….it’s great when I am away ‘on the road’ as between me and the boys we find lots of people to talk to who otherwise wouldn’t talk….I even got a bit of my roof fixed at the ridiculous price of $50.00 once for 3 hrs work in a 4wd workshop because I had ‘2 great Whippets’! Another time after Clancy and I enjoyed having a long chat with an elderley local lady in Kimba SA on the night of the opening of the Beijing Olympics she cam over to the roadside stop where we camped and invited not only I (and Clancy) but also the strangers in the caravan that was also parked up to come to her house to watch the opening. Clancy, Connor and I feel that we are actually a team of something like Councillors or Social Workers, people sometimes need to talk, and if it is easier to talk to a person with a dog, or in fact simply talk to the dog them it is a wonderful service that we provide.
    I often think that my work in Public Housing would be far easier to do if I were permitted to take the boys along to home visits.

    • You guys would make great social workers, it sounds like people really appreciate meeting your special boys. Whippets’ sweet nature does make them good therapy dogs, especially when it involves working with old people or children. I have no doubt that they’d make your job easier if they were allowed to come along. x

      P.S. It looks like Clancy and Connor are actually saving you money…Clever whippies!

  13. lifewith4cats

    Well, I don’t have anything to contribute today, being a crazy cat person and all. I try to picture what a meet and greet amongst cat lover/owners would look like…. and well… have you seen twitter? Its not pretty. Cat lovers uniting is wierd and scary. So on that note, Dog people are really cool, because they do get out and talk and socialize and share joy at being alive.

    • 😀 LOL, The image you’ve just planted in my mind, of a cats & cat owners’ reunion is just hilarious! We’ve got a few cat lovers in our street but, although they’re all mad about cats, they’re not too keen on each other. So I guess bringing them together for a cat meeting would involve a lot of scratching, spitting, etc.

  14. This is so true!! Dogs are amazing ice breakers, I think. Besides, George is way too handsome to just walk past. I’m certain if I saw you and George perched on a wall, that I would have to stop and chat, and pet that good looking boy! 🙂

  15. These things all happen to us all the time! In our town, we walk through a couple of neighborhoods and people know my dogs by name. They don’t recognize me at all when I’m out by myself, though! We often find it hard to walk through places when we go with the dogs, too. Tons of people stop us to talk about them.

    • I was hoping you’d join the discussion, Carrie, as your girls have the highest social profile of all dogs I’ve ever met. I’m not surprised everybody in those neighbourhoods know them (not to mention everybody at your school). You say that people wouldn’t recognise you without the dogs. I can completely relate to that. I’ve noticed that people will most often remember your dogs name but not your own, and I’ve had one or two dog owners (whom we meet at the dog park almost every day) walk past me in the street without recognising me.

  16. Oh yes, having a dog is such an icebreaker:) I’ve met some lovely people through Frankie and Beryl. I’m usually known as Frankie’s Mum or Beryl’s Mum at the park and the other people are ‘so and so’s’ Mum or Dad for a while until we’ve met a few times and think we can remember the person’s name as well as the dogs:) I’m also known as The Food Lady as I always carry treats with me. I can’t say either of my dogs are a Man Magnet (they’ve always got a lovely wife anyway, lol!) but I am a Dog Magnet!

    But when I see the people without their dogs I’ll be looking at them wondering where I know them from! And I’ve had people say the same to me:)

    • 😀 I think that happens everywhere. We know every dog in the neighbourhood and at the dog park by their name, but have no clue what most of the owners are called. As you say, we’re all mums and dads over there. I’m good at remembering people’s faces, so I’d recognise them without the dogs, but I’ve had people walk past me when bumping into them in town.
      Your treats must be really good if all dogs in your area like you. I carry liver cake with me when we’re out (perfect for recall), and I always get mugged by some of George’s friends 😀

  17. I think it’s a combination of the type of dog you have, and the type of person you are. People are definitely more apt to interact if you’ve got a dog in tow… “Oh, I just love dogs! Can I pet your dog?” (Good thing they ask instead of just DOING it!)

    Then again, who asks random people on the street “Oh, I just love kids. Can I hold your baby?” Heh.

    It could also be a matter of probability. When you’ve got dogs, you’re out and about in the world that much more… so the greater the chances of being addressed by strangers?

    Which is why I *encourage* my friends who are lonely in new cities to get a dog. They will find that people gravitate towards them that much more. And hey, if they’re striking up a conversation because they love dogs, that’s at least a start, right?

  18. You nailed it Didi. I am so guilty of this. However, I usually only talk to the dog and not the owner.

    • Ha, ha, only talk to the dog…I’ve got a whole dialogue between you and ‘the dog’ forming in my head right now…Hilarious…George says he wishes we bumped into you on our walks, as he is normally ignored after the initial 5 minutes.

  19. Pingback: Seven Oldies In One Go | my little dog

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