We have a splendid Bloodhound named Lucy who is undoubtedly the most loving dog I’ve ever had. She is nearly indiscriminate in her affections toward nearly every man, woman, and child she’s ever met. She wants to make new friends every time she’s introduced to someone.
There is only one exception that I know of. One day the Wise Man of the house was walking Lucy on a local trail and practicing her sit/stay as people passed. (She had gotten too excited about offering dog fur and slobber to everyone, like it or not.) Lucy behaved very well until an ordinary guy in ordinary clothes–no hat or sunglasses–walked by. Suddenly Lucy began growling, hackles up, teeth bared. Wise Man was shocked. He scolded her but still had his hands full trying to keep her from jumping at the man and barking in fury. It was such a departure from her behavior before and since that we still talk about it.
When I told this story to the trainer for our urban scent tracking group, Pat Stogner, her response was: “always trust your dog.” Pat’s view is that if a normally peaceable dog takes against someone, there’s a damned good reason and you shouldn’t ignore the warning.
I suppose the flip side of this is: believe your dog that people are mostly pretty good at heart. I wish I could be as trusting and as friendly as my Bloodhound, with a smile for everyone I meet. I wish I could give people the benefit of the doubt before judging them. Lucy’s not stupid: she finds out that some people who look nice react rudely and harshly to her, or yell at us to get away or clear the path faster so they can walk or run by. But this doesn’t hurt her or undermine her self-confidence or make her likely to growl at the next person she sees. She just waves that bushy tail in the air and trots on along, a doggie smile ready for the next passer-by. I wish I could be as good a person as my dog already is.