Having a dog is the best thing to happen to Steve and me in terms of getting to know our neighbors. Sure, we knew the people in our row of townhomes, partially because we had to, but now that we have a dog, we've gotten to know more people in our neighborhood, specifically, people with dogs (and the one guy who walks around with dog treats in his pockets. although he has no dog himself).
I probably wouldn't notice these people if I saw them once a day for the rest of my life but if I meet them and their dog a second time, it's like we're old friends. The great thing about dog neighbors is that it's like Humanity Lite: you get practice making small talk but without the tedium of actual conversation. Here are some of the benefits:
1) No names. It's weird to ask a dog neighbor his or her name. But it is perfectly normal to say "And who's THIS?" when petting their dog. You can however ask if they have meet other dogs. I met a Weimaraner yesterday and asked his owner if the dog had met Cuba, another Weimaraner in the neighborhood. This is not weird.
2) Unfettered enthusiasm. The dog owner will not think you're weird for saying "Oh what a handsome boy!" or "Oh what a sweet girl!" about his or her dog. It would probably be weird though to say that about someone's child or husband.
3) Pleasantries. The conversation never gets complicated when you talk to a dog neighbor because you talk about two things: dogs and weather.
4) No judgment. You know how when you're making small talk and you sometimes say that one weird word-fumble, like "Bye you later!" or "Fine thanks," after they say "Hello?" You forgive yourself these moments much more easily with dog neighbors because they don't care what you have to say. They just want their dog to poop a healthy poop and then get home.
5) No awkward goodbyes. Have you ever wished you were at a party and just been able to say "I'm done with this conversation. Goodbye!" when you were done talking? Well you can do that with dog neighbors, only you sort of blame your dog. "Come on, Briscoe, let's go!" you can say and the dog person doesn't take it personally at all.
Yes, dog neighbors are fine neighbors. The only downside is that I hope I never have to help these people out in an emergency because it would be weird to tell a cop, "Help, help! Chee-to's Dad is hurt!"