If you’re a regular reader of this column, you might have seen me casually introduce my dog to the world a couple weeks back, talking about a trailer I bought to tow her around town.
If you’re not a regular reader, welcome, and please allow me to blow your mind when I tell you that I am the happy companion to Bailey, a corgi-pitbull cross who regularly steals hearts and melts faces.
I cannot overstate how much people love this dog. I have had people PULL THEIR CARS OVER to shriek with delight at how cute she is (the resulting accident destroyed three police vehicles and orphaned ten hubcaps, but it was worth it).
Bailey could solve the longstanding feud between the Jets and the Sharks simply by strutting casually among their dance battle lines. She once was smelling a flower and was startled by a bee landing on it, and I honestly don’t know how the universe didn’t supercollapse into a Disney-fied Star Child of Cuteness — it was just that adorable.
So naturally, a lot of people want to pet her. I have no real objections to this. But I do want to lay out some ground rules.
1. Verbalize your intentions
I know that when I walk my dog, most people will see me second, if they see me at all. But that vaguely Ford-shaped blob in your peripheral vision does prefer that you at least acknowledge its presence.
Consider it this way: do you generally just run up to people and pet them? If so, are those consecutive jail sentences starting to sink in?
Just give me a sign. A little “can I pet your sweet pupper?” That’s all I ask.
2. Allow her to come to you
Look, she WILL come to you. Aside from being Hello Kitty levels of cute, Bailey is also Mr. Rogers levels of friendly.
She will generally take any opening you give her, and frequently will confuse other body language as an opening as well. This includes but is not limited to: opening a car door, sitting on a bench, vaguely motioning for a taxi, bending down to pick up a quarter, and tripping on the sidewalk, all of which has signalled to Bailey that it is time for pats.
So don’t worry. She’s coming to you. But still. Give her the space to do it, all right?
3. Don’t cram food in her face
I have to ask: do you find it normal to offer people whatever random food you have in your pockets when you meet them? No?
Then can we please assume that it’s not the greatest idea to do that with a dog, either?
Look, I know that Bailey will take literally anything you offer her, and that can make you feel very special. But this is a responsibility.
It’s like if you were a mall Santa. Every child will naturally assume a mall Santa will be handing them GOOD things, like candy canes, or Backgammon, or…I dunno, a Jaw Harp? I don’t know what kids like. That’s not the point.
The point is there is a responsibility and power there, and you don’t know if what you have is necessarily good for my dog. Confirm that the stuff you have is suitable.
4. If you are also in the company of a dog, consider their feelings
Dogs are generally blessed creatures with zen attitudes, like tiny cuddly buddhas. But the second they get jealous, they can transform into a Jerry Springer episode. And this time, the use of the word “bitch” will be very appropriate.
If you have another dog with you, consider how watching you praise and pet Bailey might feel. If you need further evidence of what that might be like, re-attend grade 10 English and make sure Othello is on the curriculum.
5. Commence Petting
OK, so you’ve made it past the gates. You’ve said “hello” and “may I” to the Tim-shaped blur. You’ve waited the 0.5 milliseconds required for Bailey to trust you. You’ve kept your ziplock baggie of hot dogs to yourself (thank you for the offer). And you’ve weighed the emotional wellbeing of any pets accompanying you (could also be an overly possessive ferret).
It’s time. Reach out and pet. Reach out.
Touch the love of Dog.
6. If, and more likely when, she rolls over, do not betray her trust
You’ve done it. It’s glorious. And now she is upping the ante. She exposes her belly to you. Your voice reflexively forms into an “AWWWW.”
Do not, at this point, begin doing something weird like tugging at her ears or tickling her paws. Why would you do that? Don’t do that.
7. While you pet, consider the magic of dogs
You are transcending the bounds of this earth. You are reaching a plane of higher understanding. This is purity. This is bliss. This is dogs.
Meditate on the question: do we deserve dogs? Does anyone? How can we earn this privilege? Make the world pure and good for the dogs?
Dogs are love. Dogs are life.
Yet to every thing there must be an end. You will step away. Changed. Made better.
“That was the most wonderful three minutes of my life,” you might say.
“We’ve been here for 20 years,” I will reply.
And you will know the word of Dog.
That’s all there is to it! See you out on the paths and streets of Victoria, folks!
Welcome to Ford on Fridays: a weekly column where Victoria Buzz staff writer Tim Ford offers his thoughts on life, love, and the pursuit of the perfect joke.
This column is for comedic purposes only. Please feel free to send feedback, thoughts, and [constructive] criticisms to email@example.com.