Good, bad, or just silly? I’ve got the full spectrum covered in my house. Yesterday my brothers came over for dinner (if you can’t tell, I hang out with them all the time) and while we were out in the yard I looked at Maggie and thought she most certainly was thinking, “Stranger danger! Stranger danger! There are strangers, there is danger!” (Yes, this random thought is what sparked the idea for this post.)
Now, my brothers at this point most certainly should not be considered strangers to Moo, but she keeps her distance and even lets out a throaty little half growl/half bark every now and then when they first come over. After oh, say, two hours, she will settle down and let them pet her, but even then you can see that she is in flight mode in case they try anything funny. Part of me finds this just plain silly because the other dogs, whom she looks entirely up to, adore my brothers, I clearly adore them, and if it’s true that dogs can sense if a person is good or bad (which I 1,000% believe it is) then she should know they are about as good as it gets. The other, bigger part of me, is completely heartbroken. Here is a dog that was so damaged in her first year and a half on Earth that even after living with me for over a year still is scared of strangers. She has improved vastly, a year ago she literally would have lost control of her bowels if a strange man had come over, but she still has so far to go. Will she ever rid herself of this intense stranger danger?
Then we have the middle child, Tag. Middle in age, and always middle of the road in personality, she is the perfect cross between the two extremes that I call Buddy and Maggie. Tag is never one to be scared necessarily of a new person, but she usually hangs back to see what Buddy and I think of them. Tag (short for Tag-a-Long) is the epitome of a follower. If we like them, she likes them. If we trust them, she trusts them. When people are over she generally prefers to sit by me (not to toot my own horn, but this dog will never, ever love anyone the way she loves me) but if someone wants to engage her in a game of catch, or better yet a belly rub, she is all for it. Happy-go-lucky Tag will always just go with the flow. Stranger indifference?
And of course, there is Buddy. Buddy has literally never met a stranger. In fact, back in the day when Buddy and I were a couple of single kids
, livin’ the good life, my house got broken into while I was gone one night. I’m still pretty sure Buddy reached up and opened the door for them to come in. Another time I was playing catch with Buddy in the front yard when he saw a woman pushing a stroller on the other side of the very busy street and took off at a dead sprint. Why? He obviously needed to introduce himself and make friends with her. Talk about a near heart attack. We joke that Buddy loves everyone else more than he loves us because as soon as someone comes over to the house, he smashes himself up against them and moans and groans with delight from the attention he gets. Buddy would probably be happiest living in a frat house so that he could constantly be surrounded by hoards of people to dish out the attention that he so loves from strangers. Stranger danger? You gotta be kidding.
So which is the best? Is there a right or wrong? For the most part, I think Tag probably wins in this department. I don’t have to worry about her bolting down the street to say “hi” to someone, but I also never have to worry about having people over and if it will upset her. Do your dogs have stranger danger? Are they at either extreme of the spectrum?