As you know, my dog Brody has three legs – he actually just had his 6 month ampuversary. I got Brody when he was too young (5 weeks) and when I was too young (20) but over the past 12 years, we have figured out some things and become quite the team.
Brody is half Rottweiler and half Doberman.
Strangers typically don’t like us.
We gave up on dog parks early on because if there was ever a scuffle, the Rottweiler is always to blame (even though you all know it was that Pomeranian who started it). In crowded public places we tend to stick to quiet corners so mothers don’t haul their babies away from the ‘attack dog’. When we first moved into our adorable neighborhood on a cul-de-sac, my new neighbor even referred to Brody as ‘the evil dog’ and told her children to stay away from him.
Brody, I think, grew to be nervous around people because people were nervous around him.
Now Brody has three legs. He is the same dog he was before but missing a limb. Since the accident and recovery, I have noticed a huge change in Brody’s public personality. Wherever he goes, he acts like he is the mayor. He walks up to strangers, he leans in to guys on the boat for an ear scratch, he smiles and wiggles his nub and he greets every dog he sees.
At first I attributed it to the fact that he was no longer in pain, or that he was just so happy to be alive but last weekend I think I figured out why the public personality switch – people SMILE at him.
Brody at home is sweet, funny and cuddly. Home is where he feels safe and liked. Last weekend when we were taking the boat to Peaks he was doing his new routine of greeting everyone while they waited, poking his head in ladies grocery bags to see what they had and making friends. I picked my head up and noticed something I never saw before – everyone waiting for the boat was looking at Brody and smiling. People came up to him and said he was a good boy and asked questions about his amputation.
Three-legged Brody isn’t scary. He is a survivor. He is an old dog who makes people route for him. He is down a limb but he is happy and active. Brody likes people now, because people like him. Women aren’t snatching up their babies when he walks by, they are pointing him out (‘see the old doggy sweetie’) and they are asking if their child can pat him.
Since this realization I have been thinking a lot about human assumptions of not just animals but of other people. How much of how we treat a person affects their personality or just their day? Are we projecting more on other people than they are expressing to us?
Just something to think about and while I do, Brody and I are going to walk around and make sure we are smiling back at all of our potential new friends.