When a Bite Is not a BITE

8 month old golden retriever Orly smiles for the camera
Orly loves giving puppy kisses …

Orly loves to connect with people. One way she does this is by holding their hand.

Orly doesn’t have hands, and it’s awkward for her to stand on three legs to hold paws with someone. So she has a more expedient method: She takes the person’s hand in her mouth.

Now, unfortunately, many people see this as a bite. But Orly is not biting them. She’s very, very gently holding their hand.

But, I hear people objecting: Her teeth are touching someone’s skin. And holding on!

True. They have a point …

But it’s not biting. She is using no force. She has not an iota of aggressive intent. She’s simply holding hands.

It’s still not a great idea. Some people — in my friend group, there are many dog-savvy people (go figure!) — get it, even think it’s sweet. Orly really likes those people.

Others freak out a little: “She’s biting me!” Understandable, if inaccurate.

On their account, I am strongly discouraging this method of connecting with new friends. Although I am not sure the non-dog-loving contingent will like what she’s trying instead any better — up close and personal doggy kisses. What’s an aggressively friendly puppy to do?