Wednesday, January 19, 2011

animal magnetism

Animals love Green Girl. The reason is simple: she's fiercely allergic to fur-bearing beasts. Their dander causes her air passages to squeeze shut and her eyes to swell and itch. Animals make her miserable. Consequently, the more miserable an animal makes Green Girl, the more prone that animal is to get as physically close to Green Girl as possible. If she visits you and you have a cat, your cat will leap up to Green Girl's lap and hunker down until she stands up to leave. If she's strolling through a park and there's a dog within a mile's radius, that dog will sniff its way to Green Girl's crotch and be nuzzling its snout to her hands. It won't matter that the cat or dog's owner calls to it, tries to bribe it with treats or promises of belly scratches. Green Girl is an animal magnet, mainly because she doesn't particularly care for animals.

Which brings her to this week's Public Service Announcement: Petiquette.

Recently Mr. G had a buddy for a sleep over. When the friend showed up, Mr. T was in the process of bringing Jax out for a walk, so the buddy and Jax met nose to nose in Green Girl's laundry room. Green Girl observed Mr. G's buddy stiffen and back up against the door. "You don't like dogs, do you?" Green Girl asked the buddy in a gentle voice. The buddy shook his head. "Mr. T's bringing him out for a walk right now. The rest of the time he'll be in the basement and you won't see him." The buddy nodded slowly and watched, wide eyed, while Mr. T corralled Jax outside. True to her word, Green Girl encouraged Mr. G to play with his buddy upstairs, Jax would be fine. The buddy never saw Jax again while he stayed over.

Sometimes a person doesn't like animals by default--like Green Girl, they're allergic. Sometimes they're terrified because hey, that's an animal and he's bigger than me and has really big teeth. Maybe a person had a bad experience with an animal--got bit as a child, for example. Whatever the reason, it's good manners to respect space between animals and humans. Green Girl advises keeping animals and humans apart unless the humans request contact.

Green Girl has a dear friend whose daughter was skittish around even the most benign-looking furry creatures, hamsters and docile house cats made the daughter tremble with fear. Whenever K visited Green Girl's house, Green Girl made certain Violet was either outside patrolling the perimeter of their property or in the basement--far from where K would play. Green Girl wants to be a good hostess when visitors come calling, so the animals stay out of sight. Conversely, when her grandma came visiting over Christmas, she asked to see Jax. Green Girl acquiesced and brought Jax up from the basement and watched grandma love that dog with ear scratching and petting. Whatever makes a person comfortable while visiting should be the order of the day.

Which brings Green Girl to a few weeks ago when her family went calling at someone else's house. The family they visited had a deranged dachshund. This dog ran and jumped and jumped and jumped and jumped. At one point, Green Girl felt the dog passionately humping her right leg. Smiling politely, she tried to keep the dog at bay without touching it, but the dog would not be deterred. The hostess laughed, "wow, he really likes you. I've never seen him act like that before." The dog kept jumping up and attacking Green Girl (fortunately he only had access to Green Girl from the lower thigh on down). Mr. G tried to play with the dog and the hostess cautioned Mr. G that the dog might be afraid of him. All the while, the dog kept running at Green Girl and climbing up her legs, giving no signal that he feared human contact.

The night wore on. The dog never wore out. The house was huge--with a finished basement boasting rooms galore. Proper petiquette decrees that the hostess or host remove the dog behind a closed door or into a kennel. Instead, this couple gave their dog free rein to attack Green Girl all night long.

Did Green Girl mention that the dog stank? He smelled horrible. Like a garbage dumpster on a muggy August day. The dog's owners remarked on his stench a few times, but it never occurred to them to remove the dog from the room where they sat. The waft of stinky dog hit Green Girl's nose with every pounce. Eventually Green Girl had to sit down during the visit, bringing her nose even closer to the dog and giving the dog enough clearance now to reach her lap. The dog backed up, churned his stubby legs at full speed and got enough torque to lift himself up to the couch where Green Girl sat.

Finally she stood and said it was, regretfully, time to leave. It was a nice enough visit, but marred by the family's poor petiquette.

Petiquette, people. It's good manners to keep your pets and your visitors apart unless the visitors ask to be together.

Spill it, reader. Have you experienced poor petiquette before?

30 comments:

  1. I promise to make sure Megan is on her best behaviour and to sterilize your room from all things pet related so you can enjoy your time here...and please feel comfortable enough to tell the dog to bugger off!

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  2. My pets are pretty chill. The cats don't care about anyone and tend to stay hidden when we have people over. Our pup will be excited at first but he wears quickly and then goes to sleep, lol.

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  3. "...At one point, Green Girl felt the dog passionately humping her right leg..." omg you poor thing! *haha! and "Petiquette" = love that term!! O lordy yes...the occasions on which I've been a victim usually (I hate to say) involve canines jumping, slobbering, "asking for too much attention", excessive crotch-sniffing to the point of embarrassment, barking for god-knows-what reason over polite conversation at the drop of a hat, mouthing, mauling, slobbering on, or even destroying personal property, harassing other household animals or children so that the host or friend is constantly distracted with disciplining the K9 during our visit ("no Charlie, leave Biggs alone. No. No. Charlie, no. Charlie, no. No. No. ad infinitum)

    Now...y'all know I'm biased as a 'cat person' but I will have to admit, aside from greeting a person who might not like cats, many felines seem to "get the hint" a lot easier if a person doesn't want them around, especially if said person 'vibes out' the cat ((((get away get away)))) or otherwise makes a solid effort to really ignore said feline...Personally, my own cat is shy with new people and chooses to hide, on his own, until he feels safe enough to make his own choice about meeting a newcomer.

    And at my place its usually the opposite "Where's your CAT! I would love to see him!" *haha! My birdie never makes any trouble or freaks anyone out, as far as I can tell.
    * ; )

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  4. Okay wait. I'm still caught on the "I'm allergic to animals" thing. You have a dog and your are allergic??? You had a cat too!!! How is that possible? I'm allergic to cats and there is no way I could have them in my house without being miserable every second of the day. Wow.

    Yes, I've seen a lot of poor petiquette in my day. Mostly with people bringing their pets over to my house without first asking. That is so crazy to me. I would NEVER do that to someone. It is BIZARRE!

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  5. This is an ah hah moment. I read your post thinking, "I'm not crazy! Someone else feels the same way I do!"

    Oh Green Girl, I love you.

    I'm completely allergic to dogs. And like you, they ALWAYS rub up on me. They love me. It's like they KNOW.

    And when I tell people I'm allergic to dogs or cats, something shifts. Like suddenly I'm a b*tch because I hate their animals. But I never said that, did I? Did I say I hated animals.? No. I said I'm allergic. And it makes me just as uncomfortable as it does them.

    Like you, I visited a home for dinner where a very smelly dog kept jumping all over me and licking my hands constantly. I swell up when a dog licks me, so I washed my hands about a million times that night trying to avoid a reaction - to no avail. But I was amazed that the family did nothing to stop the dog when they knew I was allergic.

    Like you said, bad petiquette.

    Here's the big question. How do you live with pets when you are allergic?!

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  6. Oh, and I must expand on Kat's comment, about people bringing their pets to other people's homes - what is that about?! My father actually gets offended when he plans to visit a family member's home for a few days and they say he can't bring his dog. Who assumes you can bring a dog to stay at someone's home for a few days?!

    Clearly, this post rang a bell with me. Thank you for letting me vent. ;)

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  7. When we have visitors we NEVER let our fish leave the tank.

    Pets with fur - not for me. I fear dogs because I was bitten once - as an adult, about 3 years ago - by a dear friend's dog. Been terrified of them ever since. I never did anything to provoke this dog, but he bit me anyway. Since I can't ask a dog if s/he is harboring animosity toward me, and expect a coherent response, I have to just keep my distance. If I was starting to have the experience you described, I would have run away screaming.

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  8. OMG - that was so funny. I am in the same boat as you, except I'm not allergic. I just don't like animal hair (and dander) on me. With that being said, we have a Yorkie who thinks that "I" am her human - and everyone else who comes to the house is, too. They've all come to see "her" and she is relentless in her attention seeking. I put her many times in her crate, only to be subjected to her cries to be let out. Thankfully, most of the people who come over are family or people that really like her and they tell me to let her out.

    I've had all kinds of animals just decide that they were going to sit with me, on me, or wrap themselves around my leg.

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  9. My mother has a friend who insists on bringing her dog with her everywhere, which includes visits to mom's house (like for lunch) and brings the damn dog inside. Said dog lifts his leg on almost anything. Mom is NOT a dog person, and it's HER house, so WTF? Leave the damn dog at home.

    I have pets, but the dog is outside (fenced) and I shoo my cats away from sensitive/uncomfortable friends.

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  10. We had a huge conflict at a school in my past. One teacher had severe allergies to rabbits and other small animals and asked that we no longer have them in our building. Her allergies were such that a mop used in a room with a rabbit and then used in her classroom would cause an asthma attack.
    No-brainer, right? Wrong. Teachers threw fits. The conflict made the newspaper, and the poor teacher ended up having to prove her allergic status to the school board. Nope, it wasn't me, thank goodness.
    And nope, I don't teach there any more, either.

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  11. OMG - that is so me. I have my pets and I try to let them be inside when we have guests but it usually doesn't work.

    I always put the youngest outside when people are eating over because my 2 year-old Siberian Husky can be too rambunctious for company. I 'try' to let her be inside but it's a constant battle. Outside, inside, outside...more often than not because she can't seem to settle down.

    Now, I'll be even more conscious of the annoyance factor for others.

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  12. I love you!

    I am not a dog lover. There, I said it. So imagine how I cringe when giant dogs jump up on me and slobber on my crotch. I don't visit those homes too often.

    And visiting pets? Someone would bring a dog over and our terrified cat would disappear until the dog left. Not fair.

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  13. I used to work with a guy who was a big guy and it came up once before that he didn't like dogs. I forgot about that until he stopped over once and saw my dog. I put her in the laundry room right away. It just seems strange this guy who's like 6'6" is afraid of my little 70# dog.

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  14. Our cat does not like other animals. He eats the smaller ones and makes sure he's out the way of the bigger ones.

    We once had acquaintances over with their small dog. They laughed off our warnings and declined our offer to lock Sandman up.

    He ate their dog. Well, his nose anyway. What does that make us?

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  15. "Deranged dachshund?" Is there any other kind?

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  16. I was afraid of dogs when I was a kid, so I am particularly sensitive to lapses of petiquette. People love to say, "Oh, he won't hurt you," when their dog is snarling and snapping at you. My husband was bitten by a dog whose owner had JUST said that very phrase. Then she implied that it must somehow have been my husbands fault. Also, HATE people who tell you their dog wants to devour you because it can "sense your fear." Nice way to absolve yourself of responsibility for your pets.

    Now I have two dogs, one of whom is a very high strung doberman mix. Dobermans were the dogs I dreaded most when I was a kid. I always make sure my dogs are in around the time that the mail is delivered or if I am expecting a package. If our "bad" dog is being obnoxious with guests I put him outside. I wish I could put him in a convenient room, but he has such a strange phobia of doorways, it is nearly impossible to get him into the one room on my ground floor that has a door, and he is so fearful of stairs that it is literally impossible to put him up in a bedroom.

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  17. I don't put the dogs away unless someone seems uncomfortable--then I would. That said, my dogs don't jump all over people either--I think that would have annoyed the most ardent dog lover.

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  18. Oh my gosh, I hate it when dog owners are oblivious like that.

    My in-laws bring their Pomeranians with them everywhere (except my house; they know better), even to places where dogs are not welcome. It's absolutely maddening.

    A family I know has two big dogs -- one barks ferociously and lunges forward when I arrive, while the other immediately tries to stick its nose in my crotch, while I'm kneeing it away (I'm not even polite about it). I'm not sure which dog I hate more.

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  19. My darling brother and his wife (mainly the wife...Brother knows better) believe that evryone should love their dog because they love their gigantic dog. Kitty is very afraid of big dogs---the dog is a labradoodle, so they look each other in the eye---but they still insist on bringing their dog to every holiday at their mom's, because the dog is part of the family and she JUST NEEDS TO LEARN TO LIKE HER. Sis in law was very put out when I told them that the dog was NOT welcome in our house.

    It's a DOG, people. A DOG. Not a human, not a baby, not made of precious metals. A slobbering, feces eating, crotch sniffing canine. I like dogs, but I firmly believe that they are DOGS.

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  20. Ugh. Our dogs are completely obnoxious. People who LOVE dogs often wonder why we stick our dogs in their crate when visitors come by, but those who do not love the furballs understand right away.

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  21. I have a cat who is NEEDY. She greets the repairmen, pesters me on the couch, licks my head when I'm napping. She's almost a weaned-too-early button sucker. I've never had an allergic person in the house, but I always ask.

    Dogs. If I had a dime for every time someone has said to me, "Gee, he/she has never done THAT before!" I'd be rich. Autistic children + dogs = ??? I just can't imagine having anything in the house big enough to kill and eat me.

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  22. My in-laws had two of the most ill-behaved dogs and at the time G was petrified of them and I wasn't that fond of them either. Even when we would come over for a couple of hours they would refuse to put them in their finished basement and proceeded to yell at G to stop being a baby. She was between 3 & 6 at the time.

    Even I will put our dogs in the kennel if people are not dog fans when they come over. Or even if they are.

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  23. We've experienced this, sadly. One of our neighbors lets their dogs (and cat) run all over the neighborhood. One thing I cannot stand is someone's dog messing in my yard.

    My boys are kind of skittish around animals, especially my youngest. Dogs scare him. It took him a long time to get used to our new cat even.

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  24. Never THAT bad! You were politer than I would have been...

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  25. I'm with you...I do not like when I'm visiting someone and their animal is all over me. I especially can't stand when small dogs or cats that hop into your lap...I really don't want them sitting on me and I feel so obligated to sit there, smile and pet the animal while inside my head I am disgusted.

    We had a large dog (died 2 weeks ago) and I always put him in a bedroom when people came over.

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  26. I used to work at Pottery Barn in an upscale neighborhood that was "dog friendly". Most businesses allowed dogs in the stores. I witnessed too many melt-downs of people afraid of dogs, who didn't expect to be face-to-face with one in a decorating store.

    It also used to royally piss me off when people would let their dogs up on the furniture...ESPECIALLY a sofa upholstered in white linen!!

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  27. I also forgot about sidestepping dog poop on the SIDEWALK when I'm powerwalking. I really don't want to walk with my head down looking for bombs.

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  28. OMG, I can't stop laughing. I could have written this...I detest dogs, cats, birds, etc. I have never liked them, and am told I was knocked down by a big German shepherd when I was about 3 years old, so that may be it. Our best friends love their dogs but they know we don't and they always put them in a room before we even get there. DOTR's aunt and uncle bring their giant Siberian Husky with them whenever they travel and actually had the nerve to bring it in SIL's house (my BIL is a clean freak and about had a cow!) They kept saying "we don't let dogs in the house" and the response was "oh, he won't hurt anything". Seriously, who is that oblivious? I hate going to someone's house and the first thing that happens when they open the door is the dog jumping up on you. Umm, if somebody's at the door, keep the damn dog away from it...that takes no brains at all. Most bad dogs are the victims of bad pet owners.

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  29. Our dog was trained, as a puppy, not to enter the living room. Even when enticed by guests, she sits at the edge of the room but does enter. One "dog free" room is all I,and some of our guests, ask.

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  30. I forgot to say, dachshunds are the worst with the humping!

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Spill it, reader.