My dear friend Laurence had grown up with dogs and had a dog when we met at university. I had turned to her for advice a week after I adopted T.O.M. when I felt so overwhelmed by the new life that I was living.
When she was visiting we got together to go for a walk with T.O.M. I cautioned, that I didn’t think that T.O.M. and her dog Sophie would be able to go on the walk together. I was too nervous that T.O.M. would demolish the slight and petite, ginger Standard Poodle, that I had known for almost 10 years.
I met up with Laurence and we walked cautiously through the neighbourhood. Avoiding dogs, keeping T.O.M. on track and eventually making our way to the Lakeshore boardwalk that was teaming with people on the unusually warm winter day. T.O.M. was so excited that we decided to just stay in one place and let the world go by around us. He was taking everything in. Everyone was taking him in. Some people even came up to us and asked to pet T.O.M. I was surprised at how many people seemed keen to interact with my dog.
I mentioned the positive attention that T.O.M. was getting to Laurence and she said, “Han, I think he wants to play. He seems really friendly. Like a friendly giant.” I let this roll around in my head. It was completely contrary to the reality that I had been living these past few months.
We started the journey home and on the way a little dog kept turning around to make eyes at T.O.M. as we got closer. Laurence suggested that we stay our course, so we continued on the path to meet the little dog. Before we arrived I was already cautioning the owners – T.O.M. isn’t great with other dogs, he’s very intrusive, he doesn’t know his commands, I’m not sure how he’ll react. We all watched with anticipation, with baited breath. Well, I did. I was definitely holding my breath waiting for a yelp of sorts to come from this teeny tiny dog. Instead, I watched two dogs start to play and prance and sniff and wag tails.
Laurence looked at me with a little roll of her eyes and said, “I think T.O.M. is pretty friendly. He’s just a really large puppy who wants to play.” He just wants to play. All of this time. All of that muzzle, all over his poor puppy face and my dog just wanted to play.
This socialization exercise was good not just for T.O.M., but for me too!