Which means that I've always got my eye out for potential greyhound adopters. No, no, I am not going up and down the street knocking on doors, or asking everyone I meet if they would like to adopt a greyhound. That would be super-annoying, and I would expect people to start to avoid me! Most of the time, if someone is at all amenable to the idea of adopting a greyhound, they approach me, not the other way around, and I make a point to patiently answer all of their questions.
And of course I volunteer to do Meet & Greets, and do my best to give a good yet accurate portrayal of the greyhound breed to potential adopters. The term that I've heard used to describe Argos, who is with me throughout all of this, is an "ambassador dog." People look at him, and how he behaves, and use what they see to help them make a decision. No pressure!
But that has caused me to start thinking: yes, people at the Meet & Greets are looking at Argos, and to some extent me, and using what they see to help make decisions, but the same thing happens out on the street, when we take our walks, or out in the woods when we run into hikers or other dog owners. Since we live in an urban(ish) area, it is nearly impossible to NOT run into people when we go out walking. So, what can I do to make sure that people walk away with the best possible impression of the breed? What can ANYONE do to give people a good impression of their dog's breed, without going overboard and being overly concerned about what people think?
This is what I've come up with so far:
1. Poop. Everyone's favorite subject. Every time I've heard a non-dog person complain about a dog, it's because the dog is allowed to poop on their lawn. I try very hard not to let Argos poop on anyone's lawn, making him walk between me and that little strip of grass beside the road. And of course no matter where he poops, I have a roll of little blue bags with which to clean up our mess. I mean, do I really want someone's most lasting memory of a greyhound was that there was one that pooped on their lawn every morning? Not exactly an impression that would drive someone to the nearest adoption group, even if it is somewhat irrational to blame the entire breed for the "sins" of one.
2. Empathize. This is where I try to read people as we approach them. Someone who is interested in Argos will light up when they see him, and usually be smiling and engaged before we even get within petting distance. But not everyone does. If someone looks closed, or hesitant, or especially scared, I make a point to shorten his leash, put him on my other side, and make it clear to the person that he's under my control and won't be in a position to bite. Greyhounds are not known for being a vicious breed, of course, but not everyone knows their breeds - they just see a big dog!
3. Be Friendly. While I'm not the type to bound up to people and start conversations, I try to be friendly and approachable. I've resolved to answer breed questions no matter what, even if it makes me run behind a bit. Or to at least point them in the right direction.
4. Kids. Children nearly always want to pet Argos, so if I see one of them pining for him, I always offer to let them pet him. I can't count how many adults have warmed to Argos, and to greyhounds in general, when they see how gentle and friendly he is with their kids. This is obviously something that you would have to decide for yourself and your dog, on a case-by-case basis. I feel like I can do this with Argos, because he LOVES children. I think, in general, he likes them better than he does adults. Not every dog is comfortable with kids, so this would not be an approach that everyone would want to take.
And that's all I have so far. I had dreams of a list of ten items, but I guess those four are what I tend to concern myself with on a daily basis. Any others that you can think of?