Up ahead on the path, I see a huge dog – a golden retriever but zoomed in, you know, with a tail like a hair-care advertisement and that typically benign retriever smile. The owner is big too, and pushing a double pram which uses up most of the footpath. I put puppy’s leash on (a common habit when approaching an unknown giant) and we politely move aside and puppy flops (as is his wont) into the grass to watch the behemoth advance.
As they get near, the owner pulls his dog around to the far side. “You’d better change sides, Dude.” I hear him say. “That looks like a dog with small dog syndrome.” As is normal for me I am all politeness and eager explanation but the man barely glances at me, even as I praise his handsome canine.
I walk on, feeling cranky and bruised. “The sheer arrogance, the rudeness of Mr Judgy McJudge Face!”. I mutter angrily to myself and rehearse the indignant story I will tell about it when I get home.
Puppy and I do a circuit and, coming down a hill, we see Judgy himself, and his behemoth, advancing with their pram. Judgy prepares to re-leash his dog but I call out (just the slightest snip to my tone) “I am sure it will be fine,” and he finds the grace to give puppy a chance.
Puppy and Behemoth trade sniffs, one head craning up, the other stooping down. Behemoth remains benign and passive. Puppy suddenly feels very small and rushes away, rump pressed down as if to accelerate his flight.
Judgy is amazed. “Usually they attack him. You should see it!” he says. I meet his eyes. “I have tried hard not to treat my dog like a handbag,” I enunciate clearly. He nods. “That was a really good reaction! I’m impressed.”
I want to hug puppy and tell him he’s worth every penny, pooh and piddle. Instead I say primly “Thank you” and call puppy. We walk proudly away.