Greta emphatically believed it was a bad idea to allow Mike into our house. From a dog’s standpoint, she was right. He was over 6 feet tall and had a deep voice. And since he doesn’t have a dog, he didn’t carry the scent of another dog on his pants. That was all Greta needed to know.
Although Mike and I had met through Craigslist’s “Strictly Platonic” section, in due course we crossed the platonic line into something more like a dinner date. Mike rang the doorbell when he came to pick me up. The sound sent Greta into “Intruder Alert” mode, racing to the door in full bark response. He came into the kitchen. She retreated about 8 feet to the dining room and tried to bark him out of her house. Greta has a deep voice for a young lady, and she gave it her serious bark.
Why didn’t I drag her away and shut her in another room? Well, if Mike were going to be coming around regularly, the two of them would have to work out a compromise at some point. It might as well be now. Any dog will bite if it feels cornered or threatened, but Greta had never been an aggressive dog. And if Mike raised a stick or pulled a gun on Greta, the dog wouldn’t have been the only one attacking him.
Mike sat down on the floor, and gradually the barks turned to low throat rumbles. Greta approached warily, still growling, tail low, ready to retreat or advance as the situation dictated. But she was softening her stance. She apparently didn’t detect any threat, because she eventually decided it would be all right for him to stroke her, even to scratch behind her velvet ears. And then she decided it would be all right for him to give her a tummy rub. He was in.
We went out to dinner. When we returned, Greta repeated her performance from earlier in the evening, although I was able to get Mike seated in the living room over her objections. Once he was seated, Greta decided it must be all right for him to be there, although she would stay nearby on guard.
The cat strolled in and jumped on Mike’s lap for socialization. Within 10 seconds, Mike had a big red dog at his knee, gazing up at him adoringly. Greta was not about to let anyone pet the cat without providing an opportunity to pet her too. In fact, her preference would be to have the petter skip the cat and devote full attention to stroking the dog.
The fact that Mike had made it into the house once didn’t give him any kind of entrance privileges, as far as Greta was concerned. She would have to bark the alert the next time, and every time, for as long and as often as he came.
A self-appointed watchdog doesn’t give anyone a pass.