Dogs and green coats

December 22nd, 2009

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.


5 Responses to “Dogs and green coats”

  1. Molly on December 22, 2009 9:54 am

    I think fear, along with ignorance, is also the basis of most bigotry, be it homophobia, racism, misogyny, or any other such unpleasantness. I’m not always sure what people are afraid OF per se, but you’re absolutely correct that humans react defensively when threatened, which then can make someone else feel threatened and react defensively, and it only goes downhill from there.

    During one of the same-sex marriage demonstrations at the State House, I actually had a polite conversation with someone from The Other Side. I came away from it thinking that he was sincere and that he was honestly afraid that allowing SSM would somehow undermine his own life and worldview. I’m still not sure how he figured that, but that was a good discussion for me to have.

    No springtime green was involved, however.

    (P.S. You’re the only person I’ve ever seen use the phrase “flipped a nutty”. I like it.)

  2. Dave's not here! on December 22, 2009 1:33 pm

    So, in that second picture, was Milo trying to tell you that you should have gotten the coat at LL Bean instead of Land’s End?

  3. Shulamuth on December 22, 2009 1:36 pm

    At least on the SSM thing (which is the subject I’ve talked most to the Other Side about — I suspect it also applies to other prejudices too) the fear is of some kind of a Change Monster, that is going to step out of the closet or from under the bed or out of the coal bin or whatever and go BOOOOO! any everything is going to change and suddenly you will have to figure it all out again and you can’t be comfortable and ARGH!

    Which is to say that, like dogs, people are made uncomfortable by things they don’t understand.

  4. Robin on December 22, 2009 1:54 pm

    Dave’s not here, I think in the second picture, Milo is demonstrating his inability to read. Note that he is Up on a Person (which he is officially Not Allowed to Be) when the tag on my coat clearly reads, “DOWN”!

  5. Dave's not here! on December 23, 2009 12:32 pm

    touché!

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