I met a stranger today. A paradoxical sentence, now that I look at it.
To preface this interaction, I want to mention that in May of 2021, my boyfriend and I adopted a 100lb Doberman/Rotweiller mix named Coffee. He is the sweetest, smartest, most active couch potato (the whole package).
Considering we adopted him during the COVID-19 pandemic, he is one of the very few reasons we leave the house lately. Every day on his walks, I tend to take a different route just to keep things interesting. Because of this, I have the chance to meet lots of neighbours, usually with dogs, in passing. It’s incredibly interesting how dogs almost instantly know someone. Their temperament shows whether they trust a stranger or feel threatened by them; which helps me get a good gauge too.
The majority of interactions I’ve shared with others have occurred online. I give a lot of credit to platforms such as Discord and Zoom for allowing me to continue interactions with other people, but I miss face-to-face conversations now and then. My walks with Coffee almost always result in conversations with strangers. With there being a lot of dogs in our neighbourhood, we usually have someone to say hello to. What is interesting is that without me or a neighbour having a dog, we probably would have never been able to meet each other.
Today, Coffee and I were at a local field tossing and chasing a ball around. We saw a stranger with his dog across the field, and Coffee immediately ran over to say hi. He began to wrestle around with a massive Husky mix. Seeing the dogs get along well encouraged us, dog owners, to engage in some small talk about our dogs. Simple things like how old they are and what their breeds are.
This led to me learning that the stranger had gone through a long process to adopt his dog. The man had to travel to northern Manitoba and back to adopt his Husky mix that possibly shared blood with Manitoban wolves. He stated that he’s still learning how to handle such a big dog and how to do basic training.
I had some treats on me so I figured, why not share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned with coffee. We attempted some basic recall training and classics like “sit, lay down, and up.” Coffee was a great example as he showed his new friends how to do tricks.
This made me realize that the stranger I had met is no longer a stranger. We had a shared experience together that was only made possible by our dogs. We may not have learned each other’s names, but we knew each other’s dogs’ names. When it was time to go, the man thanked me for the pointers on dog training and said “see you later!”Not all of the dogs in my neighbourhood are up for a good wrestle with Coffee, so hopefully, we run into our new acquaintances at the park again.
This interaction had differed greatly from anything I could experience online. Today, I met a stranger and his dog and was able to collaborate with them and help them learn something new. It was a hands-on experience that couldn’t be recreated accurately in an online setting. We shared an experience that led to us hoping to run into each other again, and I can’t wait to pet more dogs on the field!