Politically Correct Pets

When President Bush moved into the White House, no one asked Barney if he wanted to come along.  Nobody asked him if he wanted to schmooze with world leaders or work in press relations…. but Barney did try to tell everyone how he felt about it on Friday!  If anyone had been paying attention to Barney’s body language, they would have known that he wasn’t interested in socializing with the press. 

Unfortunately, the language of dogs seems to be as indecipherable to the average American as any other foreign language they’ve never learned.  Despite their regular exposure to dog language, most people are still taken by surprise when a dog bites… especially their own dog, who they really should be able to understand! 

Nicole Wilde wrote a great post about the circumstances that set Barney up to bite, so I won’t go into that here.  What I’m really curious about is, did the person walking Barney realize that he was unhappy, but feel obligated to let the press interact with him anyway?  I see and hear about this kind of thing all the time.  This feeling that it is somehow not politically correct to say “no” if someone asks to pet your dog (or approaches and tries to pet them without even asking!).  Like we are somehow obligated to allow others to touch our dogs and interact with them just because they want to.  Like a love of dogs and good intentions are enough to make a dog want to be petted no matter what else is going on around them or inside of them.  Apparently, dogs are supposed to be able to “read” people’s good intentions and put aside their own needs and feelings in order to meet those of every stranger that approaches them.  Humans, supposedly the more intelligent species, can’t interpret simple, straightforward dog body language, yet dogs are supposed to be able to practically read minds and be so saintly as to put the wants of others over their own needs.  Get Real!

Please, please, please, take the time to really study and learn dog body language and then share this information with everyone you meet!  Then, most importantly, take dogs’ communications seriously!  Don’t subject a dog to handling and interactions that s/he doesn’t enjoy just because a person finds it enjoyable!  By putting the needs of your dogs first instead of succumbing to societal pressure, you will be doing both your dog and the people that avoided being bitten a huge favor!  I’m sure we can all agree that walking Barney away from the press would have been more politically correct- and less newsworthy- than leaving him there to bite a reporter!