The Four-legged Good Will Ambassador

I let my dog pick my new friends.

Well, maybe “pick” is a little inaccurate. 

There’s nothing quite so petulant as a 120-pound adolescent dog.

If you think a toddler demanding your attention while you’re on the phone is annoying and distracting, try an Akita who thinks he’s keeping you from danger and is also bored and wants to look for Mr. Crane (an actual crane that lives near us) and chase Danger Squirell (a neighborhood squirrel that seems to think he’s immortal and loves to play chicken with my pooch, Crowley).

I’ve had dogs my whole life, but my relationship with this dog who could pass for a bear cub is as unique for me as a shy used car salesman. 

When puppies are about four weeks old, they form a bond with their mother and litter-mates.  This is where a dog figures out he’s a dog, learns dog behavior, and is taught not to date outside their species.

If you’ve ever seen a youtube video and they say the dog thinks he’s a goat, or a lizard, or a carrot, it’s a real possibility.  That puppy may have been separated from his mother too early, and instead of learning he’s a dog, bonds with an armadillo.

Then between seven and sixteen weeks, a puppy can imprint on a human.  This person becomes their bringer of adventure, fun, and food.  They’re the first one they look to when they’re scared or hurt. 

They can’t stand to be away from this person because they miss them, and when they’re not close, the pooch cannot protect them.  They must keep their human safe at all costs, for they are the wellspring from which all good things flow.

I think Crowley imprinted on me the night we brought him home.  I carried him to the car and he sat on my lap on the ride home.  As he snuggled into me he became familiar with my scent and sound.

The puppy Crowley.

What really sealed the deal though, was when we were about halfway home, he peed on me.

One of the most important things you can do for a puppy is to socialize them with both humans and dogs.  And with a pupper roughly the tonnage of a water buffalo, the only thing about him I want to be scary is size.

But of course, Mom proposes and dog disposes.

He is extremely protective of me.  If I were a teenager on a date and he was my dad, he’d be waiting for me on the porch with a shotgun.  He always positions himself between me and anything or anyone unfamiliar. 

Crowley is also a little skittish.  He may be my bodyguard, but if a school bus, dump truck, or a UPS truck approaches, I’m on my own.  He jumps behind me so that I am between him and the big scary thing.

Taken together, this makes him very choosy about his friends. 

His list may be short, but once you’re in, you’re in for life.  And the chosen are not just liked, they’re adored.  He knows where each buddy lives and walks right up to their front door and stands aside so I can ring their doorbell to see if they can come out and play.


With a couple, he usually becomes friends with the male first.  But it takes time and persistence until Crowley shares his heart.

Once the guy puts in the work to make friends, Crowley grandfathers the feminine half of the couple in.  Once you’re in the “Crowley loves me club”, you get a plus one.

It’s like my dog’s a country club, or destination wedding. 

Thanks for your time.

Contact debbie at

In Defense of Friendliness

Yeah, yeah, yeah, don’t talk to strangers.  I heard it from my parents when I was a kid.  Later on I heard it from Petey and The Kid (Don’t they sound like a buddy cop movie, though?  Maybe played by Bob Newhart and Tim Curry).  And I still get it when I’m out—pretty much every time.

But I pay them no mind.

Costco came to our town when The Kid was in elementary school.  The folks there, are to a person, kind and cordial.

Uncle Joe knows what’s up.

Shopping there I quickly became familiar, then friendly with the staff.  Since turnover is low, many of the people that worked there on opening day are still there.  And my child adores each and every employee in the place.  Each visit with The Kid is a series of heys and hugs with numerous adopted aunts and uncles.

A quick run for one or two items never takes less than 30 minutes.  But all of those beloved folks were at one time, complete strangers.  And one should never speak to scary, scary strangers.


Our last dog, Riker, was 200-pounds of pure friendliness.  Everyone within a two-mile radius loved him and looked forward to him stopping by.  He was a celebrity, way more popular than anyone else in our family.

Katey_and_Riker 2

The Kid (L) and a young, healthy Riker.

Every policeman, sheriff, school bus driver, mailman, and UPS guy that comes to our neighborhood has selfies with him.

His last illness lasted months, with him getting weaker every day.  Petey and I would put a blanket sling under his belly, and gently carry him outside to lie in the sunshine.  There was a steady stream of human and canine friends coming by to tell their sweet friend goodbye.  When I broke the news of his passing, almost every person cried.  His sweet friendly demeaner endeared him to all those “strangers”.

Every once in a while, my amiable ways can cause things to go a little sideways.One afternoon my mom, a toddler-aged Kid, and I were walking through the parking lot of a local mall to get the car and go home.  Two teenaged guys were working on a car with the hood open.  Having driven my share of less than reliable autos, I felt for them.

Having driven my share of less than reliable autos, I also keep jumper cables in the car.  I asked the young men if they needed a jump, and could I help?

They hadn’t noticed us walking up, so were so startled one of them bumped his head on the hood.  They quickly turned down my offer and walked away.Turns out the pair were attempting some grand theft auto.  My helpful gesture was unappreciated by them, but the rightful owner was pretty grateful for my meddling/helpfulness.

Growing up with a parent in the Coast Guard, our family moved every few years.  We’d land in a completely new city, not knowing a soul.

Once we had unpacked and had some downtime, I would walk around our new neighborhood and reconnoiter.  I’d talk to anybody I saw that was approximately my age.  It’s how I met almost all my friends.  My little brother was a little quiet, so when he was about five or so, I started trolling for kids for him, too.That’s how I met the Murphy’s.  Through them, I met Petey.  So, if I’d stayed home being a good girl, I would never have met the man who was destined (cursed?) to become my spouse, and then there would be no Kid.

So there.

…and I did.

Thanks for your time.