Selective amnesia with male house guests

Pyr and Rosa
Pyrrha and my friend Rose.

Whether she likes it or not, Pyrrha is becoming a veritable veteran of hospitality. We’ve had a glut of house guests this fall (almost every weekend!) and Pyrrha has just learned to roll with it. This past weekend, our good friends Kemp and Rose came to stay with us. Thankfully, like most of our friends, they are great “dog people” and they quickly won her over.

She’s still not exactly Miss Casual when new people show up, but Pyrrha has made great strides in warming up and gaining confidence around strangers who stick around for a few nights.

One weird thing: She seems to have something of a short-term memory with overnight guests, especially if they’re men. After an hour, she will have warmed up to a new man and be willing to lick his feet, initiate play with him, etc. But the next morning, when he comes out of the bedroom, she acts like she’s never seen him before and runs away from him. (She’s occasionally done this with female house guests, too, but it’s a more common behavior with men.)

Any idea what this could mean? Does Pyrrha have a mild form of selective amnesia?

I know that she’s more scared of men in general, but I’m not entirely sure how to explain why she’d be scared of a man she was buddies with the night before. I guess it’s all about warming up gradually over time? She’s still, after all, working on her trust and confidence around Guion, and he’s been here with her from Day One.

Oh, well. Our sweet, weird dog.

Pyrrha handles a big party at our house

Party!

(I don’t have any photos, unfortunately, because being a hostess precludes one from being very active with a camera…)

Last night, we had about 25 people over to our house to celebrate Guion’s birthday. This was our first big party at our new house, and it was definitely the most people we’d ever had over in Pyrrha’s presence.

We have lots of visitors and weekend house guests, so Pyrrha is used to having strangers show up, but we’ve never had this many people descend at once. My initial plan was to keep her inside, especially if some of our friends brought their toddlers. (*Pyrrha has done well with children above the age of 5, but younger kids tend to make her pretty nervous. For the safety of all involved, I thought I’d keep her in the house.) However, no kids showed up, so I decided to let her go in the fenced yard with all of our guests.

At first, it was clear she was overwhelmed by all of these people. Thankfully, however, we have low-key friends (and a lot of dog lovers among them). Most people tended to leave her alone, or greet her calmly, which helped her a lot in warming up. After 10 minutes or so, Pyrrha started to chill out and kiss up to everyone. She started going around the circle of chairs and greeting each person (and then trying to lick their plates).

Tangent on shy dogs preferring women over men:

Throughout last night, it was clear that Pyrrha warmed up to women much faster than men. I think this may be generally true of shy dogs. One of our guests asked me why this was, whether she liked the smell of women more than men, etc.

My best theory is that there is a marked difference in male and female body language and in the way that men and women greet dogs. This is gender stereotyping, but in my experience, men tend to greet dogs more gregariously: Rougher pats on the head, grabbing toward the face, leaning over the dog, trying to incite them to rough-house, etc. Men also have deeper voice registers. In contrast, women tend to greet dogs in a slower, gentler manner: Holding out a hand for the dog to sniff, crouching down, speaking in a soft and high-pitched tone.

Some of Guion’s guy friends have teased him about the way he calls Pyrrha and greets her. He’s started mimicking my higher-pitched voice and slow, bending movements. It’s pretty adorable. “Oh, Guion, get out your ‘Pyrrha voice’!” They happily mocked him. And he does. In his defense, I heard him retort, “This is the way Abby calls her, and she loves Abby, so I thought I should try it!” It’s pretty cute, but she also responds to it! Acting like a lady may just get a shy dog to warm up to you faster…

Anyway. Have a nice weekend, all! Stay cool!