Swoonings & Swarmings

Rigby (aka “Riggers,” aka “Riggeroo,” aka “el Poocheroo”) is a “dog-lover’s” dog. If you are a dog lover, you need no further explanation. For everyone else, she’s a dog who brings out the warm in dog lovers. She knows immediately who the dog lovers are, goes directly to them or attracts them to her like iron filings to a magnet. So swoonings and swarmings are recurring events. A swooning involves one to three persons rapturously fawning over Rigby for some period of time – typically five minutes or less – while a swarming usually involves more than three people, often women, for five or more minutes. A third category might include the “mini-swoon” which consists of one person going nuts for a short period of time. Women, in particular, swoon for Rigby – men too of course, but women tend to be more openly demonstrative and affectionate. Over the years we’ve noticed a pattern in these encounters around which I have crafted a little routine. It’s a light and friendly encounter that usually ends with a gale of laughter. Here’s a recounting of an actual swooning with a mother and daughter: Q: “Is this your dog?” A: “Yes.” Q: “Why is she off leash?” A: “Because she just follows me around. She’s my shadow.” Q: “Male or female?” A: “Female.” Q: “How old is she?” A: “She's 11 – I’ve had her since she was three months. She was a pound rescue. She came to them as a stray, so they didn’t know anything about her pedigree.” Q: “What’s her breed?” A: “The best guess is Border Collie/Aussie Shepherd cross. The humane society thought she was an Aussie, but she’s got a lot of Border Collie traits with some Aussie colouring.” Q: “She has one blue eye. Is she blind in that eye?” A: “Nope. Works perfectly, but I think the blue eye comes from the Aussie side.” Q: “She’s so calm and well behaved. Did you train her?” A: “A little. She picked up the training really quickly. She’s very oriented to pleasing.” By this point, Rigby is usually sitting at their feet looking back toward me. They are stroking her head, ears and back. Q: “And she just follows you around the streets? She’s doesn’t run away?” A: “Not yet. She follows me from room to room at home. She never lets me out of her sight.” A: “How does she behave with other dogs when she’s off leash?” Q: “Usually pretty good. She gets a lot of socialization and loves to play.” Q: “Aren’t Border Collies really high energy? Why is she so calm?” A: “That is their reputation, but she’s been this way since I brought her home. I don’t know why she’s so calm … I’m just glad.” By this point, they are fawning over her – and she is down on her back inviting a tummy rub, which pushes everyone’s pleasure over the top. Q: “She’s beautiful: what’s her name?” A: “Chick Magnet.” Explosion of laughter! Q: “Oh my God, she’s a TOTAL chick magnet!” A: “Actually, her name is Rigby – after Eleanor Rigby, the Beatles song – but thanks for letting me use that joke.” Truly, though, one of the coolest moments in our travels with her occurred in Louisville, Kentucky. We were scheduled to visit the tourism office in the downtown and expected that one of us – usually Craig – would wait outside with Rigby. But as we were checking the address and confirming our location we both looked up to see six women with their hands to the office glass motioning us to “Bring ‘er in! Bring ‘er in!” and so we did. They put out a bowl of water for her and we stood back to let the swarming begin. Another beautiful moment occurred in Albuquerque, NM, when Rigby walked up to a  Latina child who instantly fell into a rapture, at which point Rigby got down on her back to invite a tummy rub. I wish I had photographed this moment, because this little girl was about the same size as Rigby and the two of them were just in heaven for a few minutes.

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