It was the reproachful look on Nora's whiskery little face as she was carried off to temporary exile in the utility room that got my attention. Until then, I hadn't really noticed how often, when dogs charge at me with friendly enthusiasm, their owners make a grab for their collars. People must think I don't like dogs.
Maybe it's my body language. The flinching, possibly. Or my hand reaching out to fend off a canine instead of pet it. Or turning the other cheek away from an inquisitive wet nose. Perhaps people are misinterpreting these subtle clues as dislike.
Actually, I do like dogs. There are two that I meet regularly on walks in my neighborhood. Meadow, a cross between a German Shepherd and a sofa pillow, drags her owner across the street whenever she sees me, so she can lean her head on my knee while I scratch her ears. A Great Pyrenees, whose name I don't know, has irresistible "please pet me" eyes and thick, soft fur that she seems happy to let me use as a hand warmer on chilly days.
Sherlock, female despite her name, is a tireless hiking companion who flops down regularly in snow banks or water puddles to cool off. As a woman who knows about hot flashes, I can sympathize.
Then there is Marley, a Beagle/Dachshund mix whose alert intelligence and ability to do back flips make up for what might be tactfully described as his overly exuberant personality.
So it isn't that I don't like dogs. I just don't like them licking my face, or bouncing uninvited into my lap, or leaving trails of drool across my clean slacks. I recoil from sloppy dog-breath kisses, especially from a wannabe canine BFF to whom I haven't even been introduced.
There's nothing wrong with taking a little more time to get to know one another. I prefer a more old-fashioned approach, based on glances across a crowded room, a little discreet sniffing of hands or pant legs, and other gracious methods of becoming acquainted.
You know—the way cats do.