Illustrations by Katie Cook
Often times, the quality of my day is determined by the dogs I've seen. Spotted the sixth avenue corgi? It's a good day. A new photo of my favorite Pomeranian on Instagram? Great day. An actual chance to interact and perhaps pat the head of a dog?
Amazing day. As an overly enthusiastic fan of pups, I spend many of my internet hours furiously hitting the like button while loudly squeeing over photos of my friend’s dogs. When it comes to dogs that I see as I walk around the city, it's my responsibility to practice some restraint, even when I want nothing more in the world than to have doggy kisses all over my face.
1. Encourage the use of hashtags. While some hashtags are so overused that they actually hinder search and organization, encouraging the use of personalized hashtags for your friends' pups can make those times when you need to see photo after photo of a Welsh Terrier a snap.
Luckily, many of those that I follow have created specific hashtags for their dogs, but others need a bit of guidance. I've found that it is totally acceptable to go through three years of a friend’s Instagram feed liking and tagging their pup to create my own library of sweet beagles for those long languishing workdays in front of the computer.
2. Be direct in your praise. Dog owners take pride in their pups, and obviously if they are taking the time to post a photo, then they are aware that their corgi is being particularly eartasticor stumprageous in that moment. Want the photos to keep coming? Like 'em! Comment! Address the dog by name! Eventually, you might find your friends tagging you in photos of their dogs because they know how much it means to you. And when that happens, you know you've truly made it as an overly enthusiastic fan of dogs.
3. Commission Artwork of Your Friends' Dogs. Whether on Etsy or at Comic Con, there are plenty of artists who can draw amazing pictures of pups. These make a great gift for the owner, and handing one over makes it slightly less weird than if you just have artists draw other people's dogs for your own personal collection.
4. Start a Fan Club. A truly spectacular pup will have hordes of admirers, and in this digital age they might be spread around the world. A unifying hashtag such as #teampupname will help identify other fans. With fan clubs come meet-ups, so you might find yourself discussing a certain Pomeranian from Chicago while meeting with your book club. It's great to have swag to hand out during these opportunities. A button with the pup's face and team name is a great option.
5. Permission Before Head Pats. I pass many pups during the day, but sadly, I interact with very few beyond a loving gaze. Remember that dog owners walking down a crowded and busy avenue might not want to stop for every person who finds their dog dreamy.
Be aware of your surroundings and take that into consideration before approaching a dog you don't know. If the owner looks busy or stressed, just send some psychic love vibes to that fluffy Yorkie. If you're in a more relaxed environment like the park or dog run, and the owner seems receptive to it, then feel free to ask politely if you can give that pup some head pats. Accept the answer if it's no. I know it's not easy, but never pet a dog without the owner's permission.
6. Follow the Owner's Rules. The owner said yes! You are moments away from petting that adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, but there's a catch: the owner is teaching the pup not to jump on people. Don't argue that it's cool and that you don't mind being covered in sweet puppy paws. Interfering with a dog's training and encouraging behavior that the owner is trying to avoid is going to make for a negative experience. Pet the dog gently, and move on before you feel the need to roll around on the ground with the pooch.