As I write this post I am smiling as every dog I have encountered has had different experiences with the mailman. I am confident that every dog owner could tell a great mailman story from years gone by.
Because of her dog, Tilly, my sister Sue suggested that dogs’ experiences with mailmen would be a fantastic idea for a post.
Tilly’s routine is like clockwork, paralleling their mailman’s schedule. She gets on their living room couch which is next to a large window; prime seating, in my opinion. Tilly knows that the mailman delivers mail on the opposite side of the street first and which direction he moves. She stalks her “prey” as he moves down the block. Once he is no longer within her vision she knows time is of the essence! She flies off the couch to guard the front door. The door, of course, is fully closed and so she waits with much anticipation for his arrival.
Once his steps are heard and the screen door opens the game is on! Tilly growls like a large lion despite her small frame, and warns him to back off by barking loudly. The mail is then delivered through the slot in their front door; the mail falls to the floor and he leaves. After all this excitement, she returns to the couch quite pleased with herself. She then goes back to guarding the homestead, and blissfully falls asleep with the satisfaction a job well done.
Tilly’s behaviour is conditioned by her family; they are the first to admit to encouraging her to see when he is coming and to get excited. His arrival is entertainment for Tilly and fun for them, plus no one gets hurt. Well, except for the mail. Recently Tilly bit a piece of a mail envelope that was wedged through their mail slot. When wondering why she did this, we came to the conclusion that perhaps she bit the envelope because it was much thicker than any regular mail. Maybe it seemed threatening to her, as the envelope did not come all the way through the slot and just hanged in mid-air.
My niece, Amy, told me that Tilly recognizes all mailmen; if out driving in their car she reacts the same way because of her conditioning. I think that most dogs have mailmen figured out uniform wise. Their clothing is quite often dark, and they carry a large bag with a hat that disguises their face often. Sunglasses add even more mystery! Mailmen also usually move quickly when delivering mail on route with little time to chat.
I also think that, to a dog, the mailman may seem to taunt them by never actually coming inside. Abby, our Labrador, often lays in our garden if the weather is nice. She is unable to get to our mailman – a wooden gate keeps her from doing so. Abby waits until the door of our mail box is shut firmly which alerts her to his presence and then flies over to the gate. By the time she arrives to the gate, or our front door is she is inside, he is long gone.
We had a super friendly mailman for many years who chatted to each and every person on route. He loved his job; he was close to retirement and felt no need to rush on his route. Some day’s mail would come later than usual as a result.
Abby was initially not keen on mail delivery until I suggested that he give her a cookie. He was happy to do so and eventually they became the best of friends.
On another note, there once was a local mail truck driver who pulled over whenever he saw me walking a dog. He would invite the dog to come up onto his truck’s large passenger step and have a few cookies. It became a problem when all trucks similar to his caused a wrestling match between dogs and I; it was very difficult for my wrists to hang on as dogs would lunge toward such trucks thinking that they were the “friendly mailman.” Although different colours than mail trucks, Purolator trucks, too, became possibilities as their front doors are also left wide open as the driver operates his vehicle.
Dogs really like to protect their homes, especially if their owners are out and the pack-leader is absent. Daily, canines bark to “scare” away the mailman, but the mailman always returns the next day which causes the routine to continue. Often we do not introduce our dogs to mailmen so these mystery people continue to intrigue them.
I found a fellow blogger in the U.S who was a postal worker for a year and a half. His name is Ryan Bradford. He took some great pictures of some of the dogs on his route. Enjoy! http://ryancbradford.com/2011/05/05/all-the-dogs-want-to-kill-me/.
My suggestion is to never place your dog and the mailman in a situation that is not controlled. Get to know your mailman and others while out walking. Keep your voice upbeat and happy if wanting to reinforce positive behavior. And, as always, dog treats can sweeten the deal too!
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