When my parents received an invitation to my cousin’s wedding, they were quite pleased to find out she was getting married. (Her then-boyfriend is a super nice guy, and I was happy for her too.) While they scheduled their visit to drive out of town for the wedding, I was even giddier than they were. Except my giddiness was knowing that they needed a dog sitter: the family German Shepherd. They hadn’t thought of who’d watch the dog yet, and this wasn’t the kind of friendly dog you could just reserve with the first person on Wag! or Rover.

Meet Faith, my favorite German Shepherd (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

I packed my bags and was all set to have a Faith fun-filled weekend at their house. Similar to my current Hound mix Junee, Faith would get attention from the occasional onlooker. People weren’t brave (or dumb) enough to walk up and try to pet her without permission before I could firmly move my dog or their hands away. However, she was a stunning dog from puppyhood to adulthood.

Look at Faith as a puppy. I definitely couldn’t pick her up like this a few months later. (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

However, there was one curious experience with her that made me seriously regard her as what FetchaDate calls four-legged family members: a WingPet. I was strolling down the street, and a young man got out of his car. He stopped to talk to me, and Faith immediately froze. While she wasn’t fond of people getting too close to me, I’d never seen such an aggressive stance so fast.

Is my dog aggressive around men, or is this the wrong man?

While the guy seemed charming and attractive enough to please my eyes and ears, Faith was clearly unimpressed. He tried to step closer to give me his phone number. (Don’t ask me why we didn’t just verbally exchange smartphone numbers. I don’t know.) She let out a low growl.

I realized this task would be impossible and told him to write his number down on a sheet of paper or napkin from his car, and then throw it to me. He followed my instructions, dropping a post-it note to the ground. She barked as the paper fell. I ignored her, smiled, and waved at him with my free hand. As he drove off, I yelled, “I’ll call you later.”

As soon as the car was out of sight, I walked over to pick up the piece of paper. Faith got there quicker. She lunged toward it, put it in her mouth, and chewed and swallowed it in less than 60 seconds. I thought she was playing around at first, but then she opened her mouth again. The paper was gone. I stared at her in confusion; she was never the type of dog who ate things off the ground. (In nine years, she didn’t do so again, including when there was food on nearby grass.)

I never did get to talk to that guy or to find out why she was so put off by him. I just had to take her word for it.

Recommended Read: When Their Pet Is Just Not That Into You

Whether you’re newly single or already ecstatic to get back to the dating scene post-pandemic, there’s going to be a learning curve for pets who are not used to strange faces coming around. Sometimes it’s fear. Other times it’s mistrust or jealousy. And unfortunately, there’s learned behavior from prior owners, common among adopted adult dogs.

Faith passed away eight years ago. These days, I make a point of walking my 1-year-old dog around a diverse group of people so she’ll get used to seeing those who look nothing like me.

And while this is a whole other dog, it still intrigues me to see how she is aggressive around some men and chilling around others. There are a couple of male neighbors I don’t know who she is absolutely ecstatic to see and always looks like she wants to be petted. Tail wagging. Staring. Ready to leap. With others, she paces back and forth, I hear that familiar low growl and keep her on a short leash.

WingPets have a way of letting you know who you should give the time of day to, and who you should walk on by. I may not understand their instincts, but truth be told, there are a few men I wish I’d have let around my dog(s) long before I did. I could’ve saved myself precious time.

Instead, I learned my lesson the hard way. With three smartphones in my pockets (everyone doesn’t get the same number), I’ve learned to continue to let pedestrians throw paper. If my dog doesn’t eat it, he’s worth a call.