Sandy loves making friends.
It is her super power.
I often joke that more people in our neighborhood know Sandy’s name than mine. But it’s no joke. It is absolutely true.
I tell myself it is because she wears a name tag and I do not. But she doesn’t have words and I do, so I think that’s a wash. The thing is, Sandy is better at making friends than I am.
I been watching and I picked up a few pointers.
Sandy never has a bad day. Okay, she does have the occasional bad day but you won't know it, unless you are the person who caused it - perhaps by not sharing the scrambled eggs you had for breakfast or by making her share her toys with the other dogs.
Despite the aforementioned injustices that may have happened, Sandy still greets everyone with delight. That is her ikigai. It’s a good one if you like making friends.
Sandy makes an effort to connect.
She doesn’t just wave at the neighbors like I do. Sandy goes full out tail-wagging-happy-dog. Irresistible.
If the person is someone she already knows is a dog lover, there will be a verbal greeting as well.
It amazes me how often people will stop what they are doing to walk over and pet Sandy. Car washing, weed whacking, raking, planting, all such things cease until Sandy has been properly greeted and petted.
Of course they will talk to me too. Usually.
Sometimes, they run back to their task as soon as they have given Sandy her due adoration. With a quick hello to me.
Like I said, Sandy is better at making friends than I am.
She adapts her approach to each individual and will try different approaches if her first attempt fails. She is persistent. I think this (aside from being adorable) is where the real magic happens.
On a recent walk, we crossed paths with a family out with their toddler. Sandy went into action. She furiously wags her tail, but the little boy is unsure and turns back to Mom.
I do my part, chat with the Mom while Dad plays ball with the child. After a few minutes, the child approaches Sandy. She stays still this time, but he never comes closer than three feet.
Sandy seeks out the Dad who is happy to pet her. This is Sandy’s way of saying, “See I am safe.”
The child runs off to play, then comes back again.
Sandy drops to the ground, making herself lower and smaller than him. The tail wags back and forth across the ground. She beagles a greeting. It’s not a bark, that would be scary. This is a higher pitched, almost a puppy whine. Totally nonthreatening. It is clearly a greeting, her whole body is an invitation.
Still he clings to his mother. Today is not the day they will make friends. But I don’t expect Sandy will give up. We will see them again. She will try again.
I am not as persistent or adorable as Sandy, so her techniques don’t work for me.
But I don’t need to emulate Sandy.
All I have to do is take Sandy for a walk and let her work her magic.
Sandy is my friend-making secret weapon.
© Copyright Suzanne Grosser