Babies and Puppy Dogs

Babies and Puppy Dogs
By friends and customers alike, it has been observed that I have a bit of an ease with babies and animals. When visiting friends or at a client’s abode, if there is a pet or a babe present, invariably before the visit is over I hear the comment, “wow, that’s strange, she never warms up to strangers like that”.
A couple of weeks ago at a customer’s home, the homeowner noted that her 10 month old daughter was uncharacteristically warming up to me; she said the little girl was usually, instinctively in “stranger-danger” mode with everyone. And yet with me she wanted to HELP with installing the baby gates (I get a lot of little helpers). I told the client that I get that a lot between babies and puppies; if it isn’t a baby warming up to me, then it applies to someone’s pet who is hanging around. She thought it a good thing. It is an instinctive way of discovering that someone is trustworthy and non-threatening. What better way of knowing than by gaining cues from those we most want to protect and from those who have been groomed over time to provide protection? I said yeah, you’d think that was the case. Then I related the funny story below…that sometimes, being an honest, trustworthy guy can backfire.
Years ago…many years ago, I was on a date with a woman who was roughly my age, give or take a year or two. We went to dinner and then eventually to her home to have some wine and conversation over a board game. All seemed to be going well…until her pet decided to show some courage and join us around the coffee table. The woman declared, “This animal doesn’t like anyone other than me.” With a smile she continued, “let this be the test. Let’s see if she likes you. If she does, then that means you are a keeper but if she doesn’t then it is a no go.” I was thinking, oookaayyy? Since the evening appeared to be going relatively well and the animal wasn’t exactly RUNNING away, I believed my odds were pretty good for another date. And really…I didn’t think she was SERIOUS.
She was emphatic that no guy had ever “passed the test”—which should have been a big clue. She called to the cat to come to her. And then…the critter sat in my lap. That was unexpected. The woman was LIVID. I mean, angry; overwhelmed that HER pet could show affection to anyone other than herself. Naturally, I didn’t understand what was going on? She was like, “NO WAY, THAT HAS NEVER HAPPENED”. I really thought it was a joke. And yet, seriously, within 15 minutes, I was driving myself home; very confused. Never saw her again.
Grateful. Many years later, now that my wife and I are expecting our first child, I am thankful that things turned out as they did.  And I am hopeful that our daughter warms to me as easily as most children do. I expect she will. No doubt, Amber Lucia will have her daddy wrapped around her little finger.
Happy Holidays.
d.p. Etlinger, President
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