31 March 2010

K9 of SPb in RF… The Dogs of St Petersburg

When you click the title K9 of SPb in RF above, or 31.3.10 at the end of the post, a Comment Window opens.  Let us know about people and dogs where you are, or something else.  Don't forget to praise a dog today!

Rachel’s birthday is on March 31.  If she had lived to be 62, she could now start collecting Social Security, if only she were human.  But she was my first dog… a black runt English Cocker Spaniel that lived for around 17 years at 15 Park Avenue, Maplewood, New Jersey.

She had a pen in our backyard with an old kitchen table on which she sat and often sunned.  Inside, she knew to keep to the first floor, and slept under the cellar stairs in another pen.  We walked her with a leash.

I was surprised when we arrived in St Petersburg in 2000 to see so many dogs, some apparently owned by  apartment residents, others stray or feral.
None seemed to have tags or registration, and only a rare dog was ever on a leash.

I read the other day that Russians are the least facially expressive in public of any of the world’s people.  You guessed it… the Americans are the most expressive!  Naturally, this is played out with how people act with their dogs.

Back in New Jersey, walking your dog is a social event for many.  If you see a stranger with a dog, it’s normal to speak right up and greet them both.  

“My, what a good dog!  I love Cocker Spaniels!  What’s his or her name?”  

Smiles all around.  Lot’s of patting and caressing of the dog.

Here, everything is somber.  If I venture a “ Хорошая собака!” [pronounced… horochaya cobaka]  my comment is usually ignored as a faux pas.  This chill in the air is particularly difficult for social Americans to understand, and often after this perceived rejection I have felt a slight wave of depression.

I had a game I loved to play in America...

Walking down the street with Larissa, I would spot a lady approaching with a nondescript pooch on a leash.  As we approached I would say, 

“Madam!  That’s a wonderful dog!”

Invariably, the lady would get all happily flustered and say,

“Oh, thank you!  He’s an Afghan Retriever .  We love him!” 

By simply admiring her ordinary dog I had made her day and left her smiling.  A win-win that left us all a little happier.

I know that many Russians would say, “How insincere!  You are being a phony! "  Not true… I am generating a good mood for the lady, myself, and those around me. 

If you are feeling down, you don’t have to be passive, but rather can through actions act happy, and your emotions will follow.

Our only footnote
Which Culture Most Controls Their Facial Emotions?  PsyBlog,

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