In “The Tipping Point”, Malcolm Gladwell talked about different personality types, but the only one I recall is “the connector“. According to Gladwell, a connector is a person “with a truly extraordinary knack of making friends and acquaintances.” I can’t be the only one to realize that dogs, not people, are the ultimate connectors.
My first dog, Grover, was a skilled peer counsellor in his younger years. Named after the fuzzy blue monster on Sesame Street, Grover welcomed a succession of timid foster dogs into our home, giving them a few days to warm up before demanding they start playing with him. Over time, he effectively brought all of them out of their shells. To know Grover was to love him, for dogs and humans alike.
Grover developed a particular fondness for Jenna, a mangy hip-challenged border collie cross whom J. hand fed under the kitchen table for days before the waif slowly ventured out. Ultimately, Jenna was adopted by the Double Ps (their chosen moniker). The Ps were the perfect adoptive parents, with more dog experience than us, and they welcomed this charming mutt into their home. We came to love the Ps as we loved Jenna, and they remain an important part of our lives despite their moving away. They unwittingly witnessed our tiny spontaneous wedding (tiny = officiant, J. & I, Double Ps, who doubled as backup singers, and 2 howling dogs). Sadly, Jenna is no more, but our friendship with the Ps endures, as we were reminded during a recent overnight visit.
J. and I moved to our current neighbourhood 12 years ago, initially with Grover and one-eyed wonder Shira (more protector than connector, I’ll admit), followed by a succession of furry children. We’ve gotten to know many people through dog walks on leash and off. We’ve been consoled over the loss of Grover, Shira, and, later, Peanut, the ultimate Basset connector whose tail wagged for anyone within 50 feet. And now we have Jelly, the perpetual puppy and woefully indiscriminate love sponge.
These furry beasts bestow unconditional affection on us, and have connected us with many wonderful folk over the years. I realize this all the more now that I am not working: the house would be so empty without my cuddly companion. I talk to Jelly even as she sleeps the day away, and she’s ever available for a little contact comfort.
After my prolonged hospital stay a few years back, J. was hesitant to leave me home alone, and I was nervous to stay. But we realized that, thanks to connections fostered by our four-legged friends, there are many doors I could knock on if I needed help.
Yes, we have met close friends, the ultimate dogsitter (no, you can’t have her number), park buddies, both dog and human, and so many lovely people through our pooches. I’m much too shy to be a connector, but the dogs? They compensate easily for all my social awkwardness.