I’m meeting a lot of dogs lately. Not bad potential clients or projects. Actual dogs. More and more, I show up for that first meeting to find that the owners have at least one pup running about the house. Which always leads to the question:

“Are you okay with dogs?”

Sometimes that comes while they are holding on to a collar as they open the front door. Others as their dogs are barking somewhere in the background. I reassure everyone I’m fine with dogs. After all, I am Spotted Dog. The big question is: “Will they be okay with me?”

Oddly I hadn’t taken any notice of this until this morning when I showed up to an existing client’s home to find that their two dogs were at their grandparents. Only to be replaced by her sister-in-law’s dog who was much more chill. A little sniff. A little head scratching. Then back on the couch to continue his exhausting day of napping.

But yet – another dog.

So I went back through my client list and started making notes of who my dog owners were, and I was very surprised how many there were. Each with their own story.

Like Daisy – who went running chest high through freshly poured concrete to visit with one of the workers.

Or Bella and Gigi – who are always happy to see you, then behave themselves like the proper ladies they are.

And the cavalcade of wiener dogs at one home who scrambled onto the back of the couch at every visit so they could see me, each jockeying for position and often to the detriment of the others.

My favorite so far this year has been the still very puppy-esque Golden Retriever who wanted to be part of our meeting, talking the whole way through. (Not counting the 10 minutes she was busy wolfing down a bone.) Right in the thick of the conversation, offering her opinion, soliciting scratches, and even licking the back of my leg.

Sure. My own dog still barks at me when I walk into James’ office. But for some reason, dogs I’m meeting for the first time mostly act like I’m the bee’s knees. Or the dog’s paw. Not sure what the canine equivalent for that really is. I do get barked at from time to time. After all, I am in their territory. However, that usually doesn’t last too long before they’re trying to crawl in my lap while I’m sitting on the floor trying to take a measurement.

And even though I am Spotted Dog, I like cats as well. Except they have such a different vibe. Gizmo never met a bag he didn’t want to crawl into, including my open messenger bag when I’d meet with his owners. A little alarming to look over and see a full-grown cat half-buried in the bag, probably calculating if he can fit the rest of his body in before anyone notices.

Then you have Owen. Or as his owner refers to him, Owen the Asshole. Who was perfectly pleasant and didn’t mind an ear scratch or two, until he got bored and thought attacking your shoes, laces, and ankles would be much more fun. For someone who tends to wander around his job sites in shorts and Chucks? Ouch.

I like to think I’ll never have to worry about a client’s dog attempting what Gizmo did. Ankle bites? Maybe with one or two. But I never expect to see an 80 lb. Lab with their paws buried inside my bag like that’s the most normal dog thing to do.

And most owners will put their dogs outside, in a crate, or in another room with a baby gate to keep them at bay. All of which I appreciate. However, after 18 years with basset hounds, a head in my lap asking for ear scratches, a belly offered for rubbing, or the occasional lick do not phase me a bit. I am happy to accommodate.

But when I get home, I better be able to explain that to my dog. Because it’s not if I’m okay with dogs or them with me, it’s: “Who have you been with?”

I just hope I have a good answer.