Thoughts From A Dog Walk

I’m sure every dog owner has a similar story or account.  Not with the same content, mind you, but I’m sure each of us experiences what may be called a boilerplate conversation when strangers come across us with our dogs.

That is certainly the case when walking Moses, anyway.

Out on a walk with Moses.

A typical dog walk conversation for us starts off with a variation of this:

“Woah [or occasional expletive], that’s a big dog!”  -OR-  “Is that a bear? – har har.”

Then my end of the conversation goes a little like this:

“He’s a Newfoundland.”  (Sometimes adding, “No, not a black St. Bernard – they don’t make those.  Yes, I’m sure.”)

“175 pounds.”

“3 years old.”

“5 lbs per day. We have him on a raw diet.”

“No, no need for a large house (or yard) – he’s a pretty low energy dog and goes for an hour walk every day.”

“The shedding isn’t too bad – it’s the drool you have to watch out for.”

“He’s the size of an adult person; how much do you think he poops?”

That last one is more common than you’d think.  Weird, I know.

And apparently I’m not the only Newfoundland owner with these template encounters.  I found this magnet for sale online here.

No saddle, but we do have a cart.

Then, earlier this month, we were dogsitting Juniper, a Bernese Mountain Dog, for friends, and I got a glimpse into the typical dog conversations they must have regularly, as well.  Most notably explaining that it’s not a “Burmese” Mountain Dog, or people mis-hear and seem you think you’re introducing “Bernice, the Mountain Dog”.

Juniper & Moses

So now I’m curious – how do your default dog walk conversations go?

About ThatJenK
Writing from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 90% pictures of my dogs; 10% miscellaneous opinions nobody asked for.

14 Responses to Thoughts From A Dog Walk

  1. I am a mom of two pit bull mixes, one who looks very much pit. Unfortunately many people go out of their way to avoid us, or I hear the typical comments like ‘how could you own that kind of dog?’ ‘aren’t you afraid of being bitten?’ ‘don’t you worry about your children?’ So I hear the same comments/questions, they just tend to be negative. Love that magnet though!

    • thatjenk says:

      Geez – those encounters would get taxing! We sometimes also have the pleasure of dogsitting a pit bull named Hooch, and I recall one specific instance where a guy encountered us on a walk, and was happily chatting and petting Hooch (who is a total affection whore and loves people) when he asked “so, is he a ridgeback?” When I replied “no, he’s a pit bull” the man suddenly backed off as if now knowing that meant he was at risk to get bit. So infuriating.

  2. Tamara says:

    Regarding Brody, my rotti/shepherd/whoknowswhat cross rescue:

    Them: “Aww, aren’t you sweet for a big dog”

    Me: “For a big dog?”

    Them: “What breed is he?”

    Me: “He’s a rescue, a cross, probably rotti/shepherd/something, we don’t really know” (at the word rotti, about 1/3 will back off warily)

    Them: “A rescue? You mean from the humane society?”

    Me: “We adopted him through AARCS, a local no-kill rescue. He was rescued from a reserve.”

    Them: “I haven’t heard of that one. Aren’t those reserve dogs crazy/unpredictable?”

    Me: “Nope, he’s very well adjusted, he gets along with everybody, he even helps us socialize our foster cats” (about half the time they look aghast at the idea that dogs can be nice with cats)

    Them: “What’s wrong with him, does he have hip displasia?”

    Me: “No, we think he may have been hit by a car, whatever it was, it happened before he was rescued”

    Them: “Poor thing, isn’t there anything you can do?”

    Me: “He’s already had surgery, we don’t think he’s going to get much better, he’s not in any pain”

  3. We don’t get a lot of negative comments (dog people usually start at, “Wow, he’s beautiful! What kind of dog is he?”). But my three favourite questions from non-dog people are:

    1) “Did I see you walking a WOLF the other day???” (Yes, of course, I have a wild animal reserve.)
    2) “Is he tame?” (No, see above.)
    3) “Aren’t you worried about him and your kids?” (The children are all missing fingers, see above.)

    The third is the only question I’ve had multiple times, though. 🙂

  4. “No, not a black St. Bernard – they don’t make those. Yes, I’m sure.”

    Ha! I love that one. I can only imagine the questions you get about Moses, and I say that because these are probably all questions Mitch and I would ponder if we saw you out for a walk! (Yes, even the poop one) 😉

    We see 2 new different newfies (depending on which park we’re at) on a regular basis, and we’re always amazed at the size difference. We never think Gus is that small until he’s next to a larger dog.

    • thatjenk says:

      Haha. That’s funny – I never think of Moses as particularly large until he’s next to a smaller dog. It’s easy to forget how big he is.

  5. Julie-Beth says:

    We have a Bernese and our conversations go the same as above with one exception in the middle:

    Them: Is it a Burmese Maountain Dog?
    Me: Yes, he is a BERNESE mountain dog.
    Them: Awww, I love Burmese’s!
    Me: (sometimes out loud, sometimes not) It’s Bernese actually, they come from Bern Switzerland, not Burma where he would die with this coat…

    We also get the following:
    Them: Is it a St. Bernard?
    Me: No. – we get this SO much that my elaboration depends on my mood. But I just don’t get this. St.’s are the exact reverse colouring and much larger (than Charlie anyway).

    But my biggest gripe and on-going template is:
    Them: Can I give him a cookie?
    Me: No. Thank you for asking. (Many people don’t. ARGH.)
    Them: 1. Gives it to him anyway. OR 2. Aw, but look, his is sitting so nicely.
    Me: Yes, that is because you have food. (command to Charlie to give it a rest).
    This conversation sometimes ends there, but many times I have to spell out the obvious – he does get fed at home, gets treats only for training, big dog-big mouth-small kids with food-therefore don’t need him developing bad behaviour, no he doesn’t DESERVE a treat for being cute… jeebus…., etc, etc, etc…. sigh.

    • thatjenk says:

      Oh man – unsolicited dog touching (or feeding) is a whole post/rant of its own! That drives me crazy!

      I think to the general public, all big dogs must be one of two kinds: Great Danes (Scooby Doo) or St. Bernards (Beethoven). Thanks, Hollywood.

  6. Anna says:

    Love the magnet, how crazy that others have heard almost exactly the same.

    I usually get comments about how pretty Luna is… then it goes to this:

    “What kind of dog is he??” (she thank you, notice the purple collar)

    “A Vizsla”

    “A What???!”

    “A Hungarian Vizsla” (as if the addition of hungarian is going to help them any)… it’s a pointer” (usually they don’t know what that is either)… a hunting dog”


    And then they are on their way. Though more and more we are crossing people that actually know her breed. The ultimate was when someone thought she was a greyhound. Guess I can’t assume everyone knows dog breeds like I do. Can you imagine if you had a chocolate Newf? Oh wait I think you do.

    People are funny

    • thatjenk says:

      Haha. I couldn’t imagine having a brown Newf – the usual schtick would have to involve explaining how they’re not registerable in Canada, etc., etc.

      Vizslas are relatively uncommon (around here, anyway), so I can imagine you have a fair amount of explaining to do.

  7. Awesome website!, I’d like to pass along some cool info I found on healthy homemade dog food recipes that I think you guys would find interesting. Most retail dog food is bad for your dog, There are health homemade alternatives for you.

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