Loving a dog will break your heart. They are the sweetest, most loyal creatures and they love unconditionally. I can’t afford one currently, so sometimes, if I’m walking by a dog that seems like the right height and the appropriate distance from its owner, I will try to sneak pet it. Sneak petting can be dangerous for many reasons:
1. You never want to startle a dog. He may bite.
2. People are weird about their dogs. Once, when I was walking in Riverside Park, I saw one woman bitching out another woman for asking to pet her dog. “Because it’s my dog and I can do what I want with him.” People are weird about their dogs.
4. You may fall in love with this dog, but he can never be yours. You are left standing on the sidewalk with a little shedded fur on your hand and a crack in your heart.
So it’s better to ask, though issues 2-4 could still arise. A sneak pet requires great strategy and I am not advocating it for amateurs.
My parents’ dog, Gold, the golden retriever, spent the first five years of his life as a stud dog on a puppy farm. His puppies were worth $1,000 each. He came to live with my family because we lost our beloved golden, Caleb, who was the first dog my mom ever really let herself love.
Gold is gorgeous. Even at age 13, he looks like the Farrah Fawcett of dogs, with his platinum feathered dog fur blowing in the wind as he jogs. My mom is convinced he could be kidnapped at any time. He is also unique. Because he grew up in a crate with handlers, instead of in a house with a family, he really only wanted to be in his crate for the first year my parents had him. And he doesn’t like to go on walks, especially if my mom doesn’t go. And he will play fetch with you, but he will make it very clear that it is because it means so much to you. He prefers other, more solitary tasks. He likes to snuggle with my parents’ two giant black cats, a sight that always melts my cold, dead heart. He also likes to snuggle with and then subsequently eat the face off any stuffed animal he can get his teeth on.
He is actively disinterested in other dogs, probably from overstimulation early in life. He is always hungry, because he only gets a cup of food with green beans in the morning and then again at night. My mom wants him to live forever, because, though she came late in life to the magnitude of loving and being loved by a dog, she now knows the heartbreak that comes from losing one.