Author Topic: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog  (Read 10419 times)

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Daffodil

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Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« on: August 15, 2011, 03:32:02 AM »
http://www.slate.com/id/2300780/pagenum/2

Thoughts ?

It's the very last letter. I get where the LW is coming from, unwanted comments can be annoying. While she did offer a line to use in response, I think Prudence kind of missed the point when the LW asked for advice on how to politely deflect the comments, and she was told by Prudence, basically, to deal with it.

A lot of comments in the commenting section are along the lines of "If you don't want to interact with others ,get a cat." or "Unwanted attention comes with the territory of owning a dog." I disagree. Although I don't think it's rude to say "Oh what a cute puppy/dog", I don't think the LW is wrong to dislike the attention / wanting a way to deflect it. Just because you have a dog, IMO, doesn't mean you suddenly have to interact with everyone who is interested him him/her if it makes you uncomfortable.

Nanny Ogg

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2011, 03:55:59 AM »
Honestly I couldn't agree any more with Prudence's reply, particularly this bit:

Quote
. You chose to get a striking, lazy, gentle giant. And now you're getting pissed off because she draws attention and harmless jokes.

You know what you are doing when you get a breed like that.

It's totally benign, the letter writer should just smile, make an affirmative noise and move on- its not as if the LW gets collared into half hour chats with the commentators. I get similar with my dog - a GSD - with people saying "he's not a dog, he's a wolf!!". It's just what people do, and they mean it in a pleasant way, and actually, I find it quite funny. A quick joke about "yup, and he's still growing!" or "thinking about entering him for *large local race*" wouldn't go amiss.

If the letter writer is that worried about it then they can just stick in some headphones or something and pretend not to hear the commentators, but this doesn't sound like as much fun to me.



Ligeia

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2011, 04:02:13 AM »
Unless I'm reading it wrong, it just sounds as if she wants a way to tell strangers she happens to pass to stop making small talk and/or dumb jokes. I don't think there is a way to stop those comments before they're made, short of hanging a sign from the dog's neck. And since they're simply passers-by, she doesn't have to really engage them in conversation. I understand it gets old, but still--they're strangers, and there's really nothing you can do besides nod and go on. (ETA: In other words, what Nanny Ogg said.)

That first letter, though, is a good one for the "Fakers" thread. Makes me rather sad. 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 04:05:22 AM by Ligeia »

Anastasia

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2011, 04:17:42 AM »
When I was young my siblings and I used to care for lab puppies, destined to become seeing eye dogs. We only had each one for a short time, our job was to socialize them and make them calm and comfortable in public and social situations before they went into formal training. Part of this involved taking them out in public and teaching them to not engage with other people who tried to get their attention; they needed to concentrate on keeping their owners safe in traffic and stuff, so they could.not.get.distracted. This is not easy, because as Prudence and her LW says, people LOVE to coo over dogs, especially puppies.

We would politely tell people to please not pet or distract the puppies, as they were in training. We got used to people getting grievously offended that they couldn't coo over the dog. We got used to grown people getting in our faces (we were children!) and screaming at us because how DARE we take dogs out in public and not let people pet them. We got used to people yelling at our Mother about what brats we were for being 'selfish' with our puppies. We even had a woman try to call the humane society on us once because she felt we were abusing the dogs by 'depriving' them of affection.  ::)

Seriously, a lot of people think that if you take a dog out in public, then it is fair game for them to lavish attention on it. Prudence sounds like one of these people.



She often misses the points in the letters she gets. I remember reading a letter once she got from a woman who was clearly southern; she didn't say it, but her letter was sprinkled with clues that indicated she was southern, had married a man who was not southern and had moved out of the American south. She wanted to teach her young son one particular southern habit---saying yes Ma'am and no Sir to adults, and was being undermined by other adults who insisted that he didn't have to say that to them. If you've ever lived in the south, this is something all southern children learn. If your parents don't teach it to you, other adults will, and no one will object. Southern children who don't use these terms are considered extremely ill-mannered, and this woman wanted her son to learn this habit.

The woman was basically asking for a nice way to state 'please don't undermine my parenting decision'---a question that would have been great for this board, actually. Prudence basically told her to lighten up and quit trying to turn her son into little Lord Fauntleroy, betraying the fact that she had no understanding of southern culture. After that I stopped reading Prudence.
...because, as we all know, on the internet, all men are men, all women are men, and all children are FBI Agents.

Ligeia

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2011, 04:45:53 AM »
We would politely tell people to please not pet or distract the puppies, as they were in training. We got used to people getting grievously offended that they couldn't coo over the dog. We got used to grown people getting in our faces (we were children!) and screaming at us because how DARE we take dogs out in public and not let people pet them. We got used to people yelling at our Mother about what brats we were for being 'selfish' with our puppies. We even had a woman try to call the humane society on us once because she felt we were abusing the dogs by 'depriving' them of affection.  ::)

Seriously, a lot of people think that if you take a dog out in public, then it is fair game for them to lavish attention on it. Prudence sounds like one of these people.

That's true, and you certainly encountered a lot of rude people. But it sounds like the LW is simply tired of hearing jokes about the dog's size; it doesn't sound as if the people are lecturing or impeding her in some way. She's not actually training her dog for an important job.  I do understand the desire to be left alone every once in a while--I feel it often--but what can you do with passers-by?  You can't stop the comments before they happen, and stopping to tell them you've heard it before will take a lot longer than simply nodding or smiling or saying thanks or whatever. 

I guess the iPod solution is a good one.  I admit I feel awkward, as there's no way I could pass a Great Dane and not make some (nice) comment. I was under the impression most dog owners like compliments; I do!  I may think twice next time. :(

Quote
She often misses the points in the letters she gets. I remember reading a letter once she got from a woman who was clearly southern; she didn't say it, but her letter was sprinkled with clues that indicated she was southern, had married a man who was not southern and had moved out of the American south. She wanted to teach her young son one particular southern habit---saying yes Ma'am and no Sir to adults, and was being undermined by other adults who insisted that he didn't have to say that to them. If you've ever lived in the south, this is something all southern children learn. If your parents don't teach it to you, other adults will, and no one will object. Southern children who don't use these terms are considered extremely ill-mannered, and this woman wanted her son to learn this habit.

False!  Southerner here--my parents always loathed Sir and Ma'am and never required that I say them. My teachers never required I say them, either, although many of my classmates used them. Honestly, nobody has ever seemed to mind, as I'm polite in all the "universal" ways. 

But okay, I'm going totally off-topic. You make a good point about advice columnists who, well, miss the point; I've always considered them semi-useless. You can get better advice at forums like this one. 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 04:48:18 AM by Ligeia »

MaggieB

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2011, 06:05:51 AM »
I think there's a big difference between fawning over a stranger's dog and making a friendly remark to the owner in passing.  Of course you can ask strangers not to touch or distract a dog.  The LW was complaining about people making jokes and comments to her, though, and I can't see any polite way to ask someone not to say something pleasant when they see you. 

Larrabee

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2011, 06:15:27 AM »
Considering that dogs are increasingly becoming social pariahs and its getting more likely that you'll hear "You better be picking up after that dog" or "why do you need one that big?" or "keep that thing away from me/my children/my chihuahua" then I think the LW should be pleased that she gets so many positive friendly reactions, smile and keep walking.

Larrabee

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2011, 06:17:49 AM »


We would politely tell people to please not pet or distract the puppies, as they were in training. We got used to people getting grievously offended that they couldn't coo over the dog. We got used to grown people getting in our faces (we were children!) and screaming at us because how DARE we take dogs out in public and not let people pet them. We got used to people yelling at our Mother about what brats we were for being 'selfish' with our puppies. We even had a woman try to call the humane society on us once because she felt we were abusing the dogs by 'depriving' them of affection.  ::)


The thing is though, all those things will continue to happen, by the same people, once the dogs are grown up and working.  If the pups had a peaceful quiet year with you where they never experienced any distractions and never had to be trained to ignore them, they wouldn't have made good guide dogs.

HoneyBee42

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2011, 07:49:56 AM »
We would politely tell people to please not pet or distract the puppies, as they were in training. We got used to people getting grievously offended that they couldn't coo over the dog. We got used to grown people getting in our faces (we were children!) and screaming at us because how DARE we take dogs out in public and not let people pet them. We got used to people yelling at our Mother about what brats we were for being 'selfish' with our puppies. We even had a woman try to call the humane society on us once because she felt we were abusing the dogs by 'depriving' them of affection.  ::)

Seriously, a lot of people think that if you take a dog out in public, then it is fair game for them to lavish attention on it. Prudence sounds like one of these people.

That's true, and you certainly encountered a lot of rude people. But it sounds like the LW is simply tired of hearing jokes about the dog's size; it doesn't sound as if the people are lecturing or impeding her in some way. She's not actually training her dog for an important job.  I do understand the desire to be left alone every once in a while--I feel it often--but what can you do with passers-by?  You can't stop the comments before they happen, and stopping to tell them you've heard it before will take a lot longer than simply nodding or smiling or saying thanks or whatever.

I guess the iPod solution is a good one.  I admit I feel awkward, as there's no way I could pass a Great Dane and not make some (nice) comment. I was under the impression most dog owners like compliments; I do!  I may think twice next time. :(

I think a simple "beautiful dog" sort of comment by a passer-by would be just fine--the sort of thing that's just a clear compliment on the animal without any sense that reply (beyond a "Thanks" delivered while both people are still in motion) is expected.    But the iPod sort of thing (even if it's not actually on) is probably the best signal that the only interaction the dog-walker would welcome is the smile/nod/wave sort of thing.

Then again, my dogs don't seem to have invited as much comment.  My previous dog was an Akita (and truly beautiful as well as big) and people seemed to be almost afraid of her despite the fact that she was the most well-mannered dog one could want (she only blew her "heel" command once when a cat turned up hiding in the hosta in my front yard), the current dog is a GS/lab mix (with markings like the black-and-tan GS except that she's got yellow lab color where the tan would be, her ears are lab and her nose and tail are both like a half-way between the two breeds--nose is a little shorter and broader than the GS but longer and narrower than the lab, tail is about half as fluffy as a full GS's tail).  I may get an Akita again in the future (there is some question as to whether current dog will have to go with oldest son if he moves out--he is her #1 person and she's been unhappy in the past when he's gone away even with the rest of the family home).

Yvaine

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2011, 08:16:12 AM »
From my own personal experience, having a Rottweiler only makes some people make a wide arc around you.  :D The rest want to coo and pet her or, yes, to make horse jokes just like with the LW's Dane. They're cheesy and stale sometimes--it's like "if it doesn't scan, it's free, right? har har"--but at the same time, I figure that with a big dog it's good to have some goodwill built up in the neighborhood toward my dog (and toward the breed). And if they're close enough to call her a horse, they're close enough that it's obvious she's a big friendly dopey beast.

(And I don't think even I have completely lost my taste for dog-horse jokes; I sometimes call my dog the Attention Horse as a play on another word that sometimes goes with "attention," and I call her a bear sometimes too.)

ETA: And I also think the iPod is a good conversation-deflecting item for when you just want to get through the walk quickly.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2011, 08:20:15 AM by Yvaine »

heathert

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #10 on: August 15, 2011, 09:29:44 AM »
I recommend ear buds or wearing a t-shirt that says "Can't talk now!" Then she can point to it and keep on her way.

jimithing

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2011, 11:22:21 AM »
My husband and I love English Bulldogs. The only thing really preventing us from getting one is lack of a yard. And the fact that they are very expensive, but we are saving up. I do understand that when we get one, it's one of those breeds people are fascinated by.

So, when I'm out and I see one, I am always tempted to ask if I can pet it or take a picture to send to my husband, but I am afraid of reactions like the LW, and don't want to be obnoxious.


Dr. F.

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2011, 11:24:24 AM »
Heh.

Yeah, you want attention while walking a dog, get a Xolo. The number of people who have stopped me on the street, including PULLING OVER THEIR CAR to ask, "What the HECK is that?!?!" is amazing. My typical response is, "He's a dog." ::)

Personally, I don't mind, as I consider it an outreach type thing to educate people on the breed - they are NOT the ugliest dogs in the world! I consider mine very handsome. :)

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 11:31:49 AM »
I think its funny that there is another thread active right now about how to make friends/meet people and someone posted "get a dog" as a solution and several other posters jumped into a side convo about how effective it was, how they remembered local dogs more then neighbors, etc, and now a thread about how to get people to stop jumping uninvited into conversation with dog owners.

Seems like a bit of wanting the best of both worlds.

I think the reality is, when you go out in public with something large and eye catching - be it a great Dane, a Lamborghini or dress made of meat, people are going to comment and converse.  The solution is to either have a few good stock answers, ignore or stop going out in public with something large and eye catching.

Larrabee

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Re: Dear Prudence : Unwanted Attention While Walking Dog
« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 11:33:28 AM »


I think the reality is, when you go out in public with something large and eye catching - be it a great Dane, a Lamborghini or dress made of meat, people are going to comment and converse.  The solution is to either have a few good stock answers, ignore or stop going out in public with something large and eye catching.

If you go out with all three that could make for an interesting day...