For most people – meeting a stranger on the street isn’t something that conjures up the warm fuzzies, but if the stranger happens to be a cute dog that’s a little different. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator and new dog owner Kyle Norris wonders why this is:
For most people – meeting a stranger on the street isn’t something that
conjures up the warm fuzzies, but if the stranger happens to be a cute dog
that’s a little different. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium’s commentator
and new dog owner Kyle Norris wonders why this is:
At age 30, I’m new to dog culture. Growing up my dad was pretty much
allergic to everything with fur. My childhood pets were goldfish, Lizzy the
lizard, and a tiny turtle we found in a neighbor’s pond. Lucy’s the first real
pet I’ve ever owned.
Lucy is 100-percent mutt. When I first saw her last year, my heart melted
into a puddle. She was this trembling little fur-ball with deep-brown,
gumdrop eyes. In the past year, she’s grown into a sweet, skinny, medium-
The thing that struck me the most as a new dog-owner was the way
strangers responded to her.
This summer I was walking Lucy through a campground with my girlfriend. We passed a
man in a lawn-chair, clutching a cold one. He looked up, “That’s a good-
looking dog you got there, lady.”
Compliments like that are small potatoes for Lucy. Another time, my
girlfriend and I were walking the pup downtown. We passed a fancy
restaurant with sidewalk tables. Suddenly this glamorous-looking woman
cried out-loud. “Well hell-o gorgeous!” It caught me off-guard. I thought
she was talking to me. For that frozen moment of time, I felt slick, and then I
watched her bend down and nuzzle Lucy’s face.
People pour their love on Lucy like butter. “Love” might not be the right
word. Maybe it’s adoration or a combination of warm gooey feelings.
Whatever it is, these people open a floodgate inside themselves, and they
do it in a way that they’d never do with human strangers.
Maybe it’s easier to open-up to creatures. The dog on the street wants very
little from us, and that is refreshing.
Sometimes the dog-walker can use this point to their advantage. On
weekends, my sister used to borrow Lucy with the hope of meeting guys.
They would walk into the heart of downtown, where things were buzzing
with foot traffic. They’d loop the main drag and then hit the smaller side
It didn’t take long until my sister became frustrated. Potential boyfriends
didn’t even notice the pup. Instead, sorority girls, couples, and families
threw themselves at Lucy—not exactly the crowd she was going for.
My sister has this theory about why people open-up to animals and not each
other. She says, “Animals are free love tied to the end of a string.”
At first, I felt funny when people gave Lucy their “love-fests.” I was on
the receiving end of their attention but I wasn’t really the recipient. Now I
appreciate their interactions for what they are—good intentions released
into the world.
I know the ability to open our hearts in us. I experience it through Lucy
every day. I just wonder why we can’t be this open and generous with one-
another. Or maybe we could. If we were cuter, fuzzier, and didn’t talk so
Host Tag: Kyle Norris is a freelance writer, who lives with her puppy in Ann Arbor,