I was in Toronto this weekend and had two of my dogs with me. I took the Cattle Dog for a walk down Queen's Quay thinking it would be a GREAT place to work on some environment issues (which, by the way, it really was). She was doing awesome with the craziness and business of the place. Before I go further with the story, please remember that when we first got Cattle Dog she would take off blindly running when she encountered a dog she was frightened of. Took a lot of time but we have been working on this and VERY few dogs frighten her now.
We walked up to a set of lights and the corner where we stopped had a dog and owner already there. The dog looked like the below picture but with more white (below is a Shiba Inu). Wish I had my camera with me at the time ...
The dog was in a sit behind the owner (who was standing looking at the lights/traffic). To a person who doesn't know much about dogs, this would be a dog that looks safe and friendly; it was in a sit, watching us, wasn't pulling on the leash, was wearing a flat collar, and is FUZZY (because EVERYONE knows that fuzzy dogs are the friendliest! They are just so darn KYOOT! It's those darned "dangerous dogs" in the news you have to watch out for).
The dog was facing us. The closer we got to the dog, the lower the dogs' head went. The closer we got, the faster Cattle Dog was spinning on the leash trying to tell me to "Get Away! Don't go Closer!".
Listening to what the Cattle Dog was telling me, I stopped a healthy 10 feet away and had the pleasure of hearing the quietest, lowest, deepest growl ever. If I hadn't been listening for it, I would have missed it. The owner turned around to look at his dog, looked at us and smiled before turning back to the intersection. He said nothing to his dog, he said nothing to me. I called over a friendly "Hello" which he ignored. The dog never stopped staring at us, its head level with its elbows (his shoulders were the highest thing on him). Once it had started growling, it didn't stop. I was glad we had stopped so far away.
I waited to see which direction he was walking and promptly went the other way. I lucked across a place called PawsWay. Neat place! It's got all sorts of information about dogs there and they encourage you to bring your dog in with you. Super cool. Since Cattle Dog was about done with the outside stimulation for the moment, we went inside and hung out in a corner until she calmed down.
While we were inside, a man came up to sit at the table in front of us with his dog and a stroller while his wife went to find some hot coffee. His dog was all over the place - so excited! (So slobbery!) Since the floors are tiled, the dogs' feet were going super fast but the dog wasn't moving.
The dog was short haired and muscular. He was an intact male (how could I miss that!), brown brindle and was wearing a prong collar. To the average person who reads far too many newspapers and hears all about how terrible these sorts of dogs are, he would have been very scary looking - especially with the prong collar. He looked like exactly this:
The owner looked at his dog, looked at me and chuckled. He asked if it was ok if his dog said hello and I consented. The guy initiated contact, he had an infant and his wife with him and the dog looked like he was about to explode with excitement. The most important thing? Cattle Dog was pulling to go see the Staffy. She was super excited to see him. Total opposite than the dog outside. In this situation, I trust my dog's judgement more than I trust my own. She was the one who let me know that she could say hello to this dog. She was the one who told me to stay away from the other dog.
The two dogs interacted in a friendly manner and tried to play but they were both too excited (you know the kind of excitement where they can't stop wriggling long enough to think?). The moral of the story? Don't judge a dog by its breed. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Don't expect people to say hello to you in big cities.