"How old is your dog?"
May 4, 2010 9:51 AM   Subscribe

"How old is your dog?" I recently adopted a pit bull. In the couple of weeks since she was adopted, I have had no less than 5 guys on the street ask how old she is. They always ask only that question, and have no further questions or comments or anything. What's up with that? Possibly related: I live in a part of DC where dog fighting happens.
posted by picapica to Pets & Animals (26 answers total)
 
Which part of DC is that? When I lived in a few neighborhoods of DC (NW and SW), I got a lot of questions about dogs (not mine) which I was walking at various times, but I interpreted it more as a conversation-starter / possible-pick-up-line than anything else. I think puppies especially invite interest from strangers. I also think "What kind of dog is he?" and "How old is he?" are normal dog-owner questions - maybe it's just that these strangers are able to identify the breed, so they move on to the next question?
posted by doteatop at 9:57 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are trying to determine if your dog is as big as it will get or if it still growing.
posted by davey_darling at 10:01 AM on May 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Regarding your possibly related: Perhaps they are looking for good breeding stock?
posted by davey_darling at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


doteatop: The reason I thought it was strange is that it hasn't been that kind of interaction. I already had another dog from puppyhood, and went through the conversation-starter/ pick-up-line thing with her, and I'm totally used to that.

My pit bull is a year old, so she looks prettymuch full-grown. And the question isn't used as an intro to more questions. I say she's a year old, and they move on. With barely a nod.

And I live in NE.
posted by picapica at 10:03 AM on May 4, 2010


Seconding davey_darling on both counts.
posted by kataclysm at 10:12 AM on May 4, 2010


And the question isn't used as an intro to more questions. I say she's a year old, and they move on. With barely a nod.

Maybe there's something in the way you answer them that implies you're not interested in chatting further.
posted by headnsouth at 10:19 AM on May 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the couple of weeks since she was adopted, I have had no less than 5 guys on the street ask how old she is.

That's not an uncommon question for dog owners; a lot of people will ask what "her" name is, what breed she is (if it's not obvious) and how old they are. Then they'll say something like "oh, you're a good dog aren't you" or "she's friendly!" and move on.

It's small talk for dog people and an excuse to make a canine friend.
posted by Hiker at 10:28 AM on May 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


I'm echoing what headnsouth said; I think you've got an interaction perspective already in your head, OP. I always ask the dogs age when I'm chatting with an owner on the street, never fail. It's just something I do, and I certainly don't train dogs to fight.
posted by thatbrunette at 10:30 AM on May 4, 2010


It's small talk for dog people and an excuse to make a canine friend.

I agree with this and with headnsouth.

I'm always looking for an excuse to make a canine friend!
posted by jgirl at 10:48 AM on May 4, 2010


Hmm. No dogfighting here on the SF peninsula but lots of friendly conversationalists. I get "How old is he?" (they're surprised he's an adult, because he has a puppyish demeanor), "What's his name?" (it's Crosbie), and "What kind of a dog is he?" (they're surprised he's a pit bull, because "he seems so nice!").

I think we need a picture to be sure, though. Here's mine.
posted by tangerine at 10:50 AM on May 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Friendliness?
posted by whiskeyspider at 10:54 AM on May 4, 2010


I'm crazy about dogs and have bypassed this whole talking to people chit chat business by waving and saying hello to the dog directly.
posted by mokeydraws at 10:59 AM on May 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


People are intrigued by the ages of dogs. Our canine friends grow out of the puppy stage at the speed of light (which is why it's unusual to see a puppy on the street), but they're few age giveaways for adult dogs. Sometimes arthritis, cataracts or a few stray gray hairs suggest the age of an older animal, but it's not unusual to see vigorous, puppyish behavior and a youthful coat on an older dog. Think about this in comparison with humans: It's generally easy to pinpoint human age within a decade or so.

Also, dog lifespans pass much more quickly than humans'. It's always poignant to hear an owner reply "nine" when asked the age of an older, arthritic dog. A nine-year-old human is on the cusp of puberty. A nine-year-old dog can be well into the twilight years of life.
posted by Gordion Knott at 11:06 AM on May 4, 2010


They are trying to determine if your dog is as big as it will get or if it still growing.

And the question isn't used as an intro to more questions. I say she's a year old, and they move on. With barely a nod.

Yeah, davey has it pegged, is my guess.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:10 AM on May 4, 2010


I get that when boys are trying to hit on me. So I am kind of equally split between hitting on you versus some kind of dog fighting angle.
posted by mrs. taters at 11:14 AM on May 4, 2010


They may be looking to breed. A year old is a little too young to have a litter, so they move on.

Some people buy a male dog and expect to make money with stud fees, or they may start with a pair but the female can only have so many litters while a male can impregnate any number of females. I've noticed that this is very popular with low class back yard breeders, I have one down the street from me.

I agree that 'how old' is a common ice breaker for dog lovers and owners, but if there is no follow up conversation it does seem odd. I often ask how old a dog is to compare how big they are to my dog, but I usually ask other questions or at least explain why I want to know. If they are just asking the dog's age and not being friendly in other ways I'd think there were ulterior motives too.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:49 AM on May 4, 2010


They are trying to determine if your dog is as big as it will get or if it still growing.

This. I don't have a dog, but I'm thinking about getting one and have a size in mind. If your dog is massive but a puppy, I probably don't want one like it. If your dog is tiny but still growing, I might want one like it. If your dog is tiny and old, I definitely don't want one like it.

So I ask people this all the time (but usually follow it up with, "What kind is it?")
posted by coolguymichael at 12:24 PM on May 4, 2010


I think people do this just out of curiosity and to show they're dog enthusiasts. How old is s/he? What kind of dog is that? Now they know what X breed looks like at X age and you know that they're a "dog person".

That being said, I also have a pit bull so maybe all the restaurant patrons that hang outside my apartment tipsy on wine and stop me to ask this every time I walk him at night are just looking for a good ol' fashioned dogfight. But probably not.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:01 PM on May 4, 2010


I agree with most of these comments. Put another way, I'm I'm running a dogfighting ring, I'm probably not going to walk around asking random people how old their pit bulls are. Then again, IANADF.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2010


Hey Picapica, that's super-weird. If you're already used to how people treat dog-walkers on the street in DC, it would seem you're picking up on something unusual here.

I just can't imagine, though, that it relates to dog fighting in that area. What are the odds, walking a dog around your neighborhood (even in NE), that you'll encounter so many people who have such a surreptitious interest in your pit? Even in areas where dog fighting is prevalent, relative to the population as a whole, I wouldn't think so many people were involved that you would encounter a significant amount of them at random. It just seems unlikely.

Do you think, as headnsouth suggested, that you react differently because of this awareness of dog-fighting in your area? Is your pit maybe more social than your other dog? I just can't think of an explanation here as to why this would be different. Maybe pit bulls are just a generally more-notable breed?
posted by doteatop at 1:21 PM on May 4, 2010


We must be neighbors and I think davey hit the nail on the head.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:25 PM on May 4, 2010


I say we must be neighbors because I'm in NE and I've got a guy that works out his rotties by having them drag a sled full of concrete blocks around the park in front of my house. We keep the toddlers inside while he does that.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:29 PM on May 4, 2010


People ask how old my dog is every single day. I think it's mostly friendliness/a sign of interest. He's a Basset Hound and I live in Toronto.
posted by kate blank at 6:51 PM on May 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


He's a Basset Hound and I live in Toronto.

My GOD! Canadians are monsters! I mean what kind of inhuman animal stages Basset hound fights?!?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:34 AM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


My GOD! Canadians are monsters! I mean what kind of inhuman animal stages Basset hound fights?!?

Criminal Hipsters.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:21 PM on May 5, 2010


I live in Baltimore, with an obviously elderly half-chow, in a neighbourhood with a lot of dogfighting. I get asked all the time how old Conan is by the local schoolkids (translation, poor, mostly black kids, since the rich white families move out when their kids hit school age). This is usually followed by figuring out how many years old he is in dog years. Then the cuddling starts (the kids and Conan, not me).

My sense is that it has something to do with dogfighting, but quickly turns into a social thing when I stop to chat and they find out how old my gorgeous, sweet but tough looking guy is. When he was younger (and we lived in Detroit), the common question was "He got any puppies?" or "He fixed?" Those folks were looking to breed (Conan is neutered, and they'd express regret).
posted by QIbHom at 7:34 AM on May 6, 2010


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