Dogs and green coats

The blogs that I like best, like Andrew Sullivan‘s and Ta-Nehisi Coates‘s, bounce around to a bunch of different topics, more or less like I do. The fact is, though, it’s easier for a new blog to get attention if it’s specialized: fashion, politics, sports, science, Christian, literary, whatever.

But don’t worry. Although I’m pretty sure no one has covered this niche, the preponderance of posts having to do with dogs and/or springtime-green coats is not going to become the sole focus of this blog. But at the risk of beating the topic to death, I did want to share a couple more pictures that I found of Milo and me while perusing my hard drive.

I’d lived in Boston for a good 10 years before succumbing to the need for a puffy coat, but having a dog who requires a morning walk quickly made it obvious that fashion was going to have to take a back seat to necessity. So I chose — of course! — a nice springy green one from Land’s End L.L. Bean. It arrived in the mail, and I tried in on, and then came upstairs to model it for Mr. Improbable and Milo.

Milo, whom we’d only had for a few months, completely flipped a nutty when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Woman came at him. The hood covered my face, and the strong plastic-y odor of the coat’s wrapping masked my own smell.

milocoat1

Once he realized it was me, of course, we made up.

milocoat2

Take a look, though, at his body language in that first picture. That is one scared dog. Look how far down his ears are tucked, how much eye-white you can see, how his hindquarters are bunched under him, ready to protect his vitals, or to spring. Everyone knows to beware of a dog that is snarling, hackles up, baring its teeth. But a dog who looks like Milo does here can be just as dangerous, if not more so. The vast majority of the time, a normal dog’s aggression is not driven by “dominance” issues, but by fear.

Kind of like people.

So maybe the next time you’re faced with an angry coworker, or in-law, or child, if you can, take a step back and ask yourself what’s really motivating them. Often, treating angry people as though they are afraid can be a remarkable way of defusing tension.

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