Given his druthers, Pettigrew greets all mammals he meets. For some, this is a warm welcome, for others (think mail carriers, cats, people on skateboards, the list is long) his greeting is decidedly unfriendly.
And then there’s the group in between, the ones for whom he reserves judgment.
There are days when I am happy to let Pettigrew do the circle dance with new-to-us dogs, leashes tangling until they determine: friend or foe. But, more often, I forgo the pleasure of making a new friend in order to avoid the stress of separating aggressive dogs if things go south.
People don’t have the same instinct. Arriving to help set up at a recent fundraising event, I entered and found four other volunteers waiting for the organizer to arrive.
Taking my cue from Pettigrew, I introduced myself and realized, as my co-volunteers began to introduce themselves to each other, that no one had been talking when I entered the room.
With a simple hello, we went from strangers to neighbors.
Likewise, when we go out on a walk, Pettigrew and I greet the folks we pass; often bringing a pause and a smile to someone’s face as they return the greeting or stop to give Pettigrew a much-desired pat. [I believe he’s convinced some people that he is woefully neglected at home and if it weren’t for their attentions, he would be an unloved dog.]
Then there are the more nuanced times. Out for a walk with a neighbor, she mentioned the challenges of the new open floor plan at her office. Some colleagues greet everyone when they arrive, and with no doors to close to signal quiet, this seemingly friendly impulse can be disruptive and distracting.
And at this time of year, there is the minefield of holidays. Is it the generic Happy Holidays, or the more specific Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Joyous Kwanzaa?
Yet, Happy New Year seems to work, despite the fact that for many January 1st is not the only New Year celebrated.
As Pettigrew has aged, he no longer pulls on the leash if I direct us away from an approaching dog. He seems reconciled to the fact that greetings have their time and place.
Perhaps there’s hope that we earthlings will figure it out too.
For a previous blog on Pettigrew’s role as a greeter in our home see Welcome! To Our Home, and, for Pettigrew’s take on the subject: It’s My Turn #4: In Which Pettigrew Takes Umbrage At His Recent Treatment and Clarifies the Need for Barking.