Pettigrew is a social butterfly. He has visited the new dog at the top of the alley, the park across the street with the alluring stream, the corner grocery, and the two dogs that always bark when he passes on his daily walks. He has paid these calls… on his own.
Luckily, he has always met with kind people who pet him while they contact us to let us know he is out exploring. Sometimes we were mounting our own search; sometimes we were unaware.
Our backyard has three gates. When spending time outside, Pettigrew casually saunters over to all three gates and checks, just in case. He’s an optimist. You never know when a friend or worker may have failed to latch the gate. Occasionally he hits pay dirt and finds the way out open.
He also checks gates in any yard that he is visiting. I’m not quite sure how he figures out where the gates are located, but he does. This became abundantly clear when we were visiting friends.
After letting both dogs out in the friends’ backyard, the adults went inside to visit. Our tete-a-tete was shortly interrupted by my friends’ husband noting that he had found Pettigrew in their front yard. He assured us that he had returned Pettigrew to the backyard and latched the gate. Odd, we thought we had latched it too. A few minutes later, we noticed Pettigrew gazing in at us through the front windows. We hurried out, led him back to the yard, and carefully and securely latched the gate. There must’ve been something wrong with the latch we assumed. We didn’t realize our mistake until both dogs appeared in the front yard, looking quite pleased with themselves.
Not only had Pettigrew figured out how to open the gate, but, being the gentleman that he is, he taught his friend how to open it too. There is now a bungee cord securing that gate.
It would be incorrect to call Pettigrew an escape artist. When we have visitors to the house he barks as they approach to let them know this is a protected house. After we open the door he rushes out to be the first to greet the newcomer and check them out. Then he follows them back into the house in the hopes of getting some loving. He does not make a break for it.
Not everyone understands this. As his 55 pound, black body rushes out the door in greeting, unfortunately, many people back away rather than moving toward him and into the house. Of course, Pettigrew follows. It can be hard to distinguish friendly from unfriendly behavior in a dog.
We have tried restraining him, but he doesn’t take well to this. If we hold his collar or close him into another room so the guest can enter quietly, Pettigrew bristles, barks, and lunges menacingly. He even throws his body against closed doors in an effort to force them open. He will also keep barking if we fail to open the front door at all. I have, on occasion, used these behaviors to help me get rid of particularly aggressive door-to-door solicitors.
If he were truly an escape artist, Pettigrew would make a break for it every time the door is open. Since he happily follows visitors back inside, I believe it is sociability he is seeking. I only wish he would invite one of us along, rather than going solo when he decides to call on friends.