Saturday, July 30, 2016
I was sitting outside the St. Roch market at one of the dining tables, holding the leash belonging to JJ, a large, gentle standard poodle. JJ's owner, my friend Bertie, was inside the market getting something to eat. I had gone in first, ordered a taco salad and then we changed guard, me watching JJ so she could order.
As I was sitting there, a family with two little boys approached the market entrance, and the little boys were entranced with JJ. "Can I pet your dog?" said one.
Without thinking, I said, "Of course!" Which is what I always do when I'm with my own dog, Jack. Jack is fine with children, he loves the attention and is gentle, without flinching or making sudden moves that might frighten then. My response was automatic.
Then in a sudden flash I realized - hey, this isn't my dog and I don't know how he is with children. He is a gentle and sweet dog, but I don't know that.
The little boy was still hesitant; and just as I was about to reverse my invitation and tell him we could wait for Bertie to return, his mom said, "Maybe we better not bother the lady." Did she sense the sudden doubt in my mind? Was she a wise woman, or was she a person who was afraid of dogs anyway?
The family went into the market, and I went over the incident in my mind. Was I stupid, foolish to have instinctively vouched for a dog I didn't know well? How awful if I had encouraged him and then something bad had happened. I need to be more careful, more thinking.
When Bertie came out with her food, I told her about the incident. "How is JJ with children?" I asked.
"Oh, he's good with them. He loves being petted. He's a sweetheart." A little later, another family with a boy and a little girl came up to us, and Bertie let them pet JJ.
It made me feel like maybe my instincts are not so bad, after all.