My puppy needs some diversity in his life. At least that’s what the dog trainer told us when we saw her last week. “Try to introduce him to people of all ethnicities as soon as possible,” she said. “It’ll make him less fearful when he gets older.”
“Well, if you say so,” I mumbled. “But I grew up in North Dakota, and the only diversity I had in my life was the freaks who had dark blonde hair instead of light blonde hair. And I turned out okay.”
“No, you didn’t,” my husband chimed in. “You take pepper spray to Chuck E. Cheese.”
“Yes, but not because I’m fearful of people who are different than me. I’m fearful of people who poop in the ball pit. DO NOT MOCK THE PERSON WHO SAVES OUR FAMILY FROM E COLI, BUCKO.”
Then we shut up because the dog trainer looked ready to bring out shock collars. “You should also expose the puppy to people in various professions,” she continued. “And maybe dress up in winter hats, goggles and sports equipment so he’s not scared of that stuff. It’ll be fun!”
Yeah. You know what’s more fun? Cats. Cats don’t need you to blast “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch” while you try on wacky costumes like you’re trapped in some bad 80’s movie montage. They’ll ignore the shit out of you no matter what you’re wearing.
But because I’m a Responsible Dog Owner, I decided to do what’s best for Teddy. I knew that expanding our everyday social circle to include more types of people would take a lot of effort and time on my part, but I was up for the task. I clipped on his leash, put on my sneakers, loaded up my pockets with dog treats, and then, once I was prepared, I sat on the couch and updated my Facebook status.
As it turns out, one of my Facebook friends actually does know a Village Person, The Cowboy, and tagged him for me. I’m sure The Cowboy is now busy rounding up the other guys from the YMCA (oh, shut up, like I’m proud of that joke?) and the Macho Men will show up at our house soon. But until then, Teddy and I are hitting the pavement every day in an effort to expand our social circle.
I confess that we haven’t really left the neighborhood much, but that’s just because of Teddy’s obsession with white panel vans. Seriously, if the Austin Police Department ever puts out an APB on a white panel van, I’ll find it in a second because Teddy runs over to every single one he sees like it’s a cute girl dog in heat. White panel van! White panel van! Oh my God, Lady, it’s a White. Panel. Van. At this point, we could probably star in our very own crime-fighting reality show: Teddy Vs. America’s Abduction Vans. Call me and we’ll discuss, Bravo. I’ll even teach him drug sniffing.
Anyway, we have now met every lawn guy, handyman, painter and undercover government surveillance worker in the area. They are all very friendly and say, “Hi, Puppy!” while Teddy rolls on his back and shows off his private parts like an old sorority sister of mine used to do. (Pelvic Pam. She’s now a CPA in Oregon.) It’s very sweet.
We also headed to the outdoor mall where we met a few nice women I chased down after overhearing their heavy French/Gabor Sister accents. “Za pup iz so adorablah!” they squealed while he licked their expensive shoes. “Adorablah!”
“Thank you!” I smiled. “Now, do you mind saying that again after you put on these goggles?”
Alas, they declined and headed over to bend the mall security guy’s ear about something. But that was okay because Teddy and I then met a guy with dreadlocks after I pretended to have a question about eco-friendly bongs. Next, we moved on to an elderly woman who asked if he was named after a Roosevelt or a lingerie, and then to a pierced 20-something who ironically petted him while pretending she wasn’t ironically petting him. Finally, after a gross toddler got his fat hands stuck on Teddy’s ears, we headed home. All in all, it was a successful day of being social. And, after all of this interaction, I really don’t think Teddy will be fearful of anyone when he gets older.
Even if they’re one of those freaks with dark blonde hair.