Every now and then, it can still surprise me.
Riley is, without a doubt, my "main man". He's my heart; my partner. This is the normal state of being for us. So much so, that I'm not always conscious of it. Then he does something that snaps me out of my complacency and reminds me that we truly are partners and just as he trusts me, I need to trust him.
Riley isn't a terribly 'social' dog. He's usually aloof with new people. He normally won't go out of his way to meet someone and tends to be shy and a little timid if someone new approaches him. On rare occasion, he'll encounter someone who, for whatever reason, sends the right signals, gives off the right vibes or whatever, and he'll march right up to them.
Rarer still, are the occasions when he reacts very strongly and very negatively to someone. This happened yesterday. Maintenance came around with an outside contractor to clean our chimney and get our fireplace ready for Fall. Riley went right up to the woman who was doing the chimney-cleaning, which was surprising not only because he normally doesn't approach new people so readily, but because she was carrying all kinds of gear with her and things like that normally scare him. Apparently he wasn't going to let the big, scary brush and the big, scary dropcloth stand in his way. He liked her and wanted to check her out.
Then he took one step toward the maintenance man, quickly backed up again and growled at him. It was a very deep, very serious growl. I was more than a little surprised, as he's reacted this way to someone only one other time in his life. That was to my mom's older sister (who, in my opinion is either clinically insane or damned close to it.) I was not surprised that he reacted that way toward her. I was surprised that he reacted that way towards this guy. He's an older man and always seems so very pleasant. He's quick with a smile, a wave and a 'good morning' or a 'hello.' He's the head of our maintenance crew and has been here for years, so obviously no one has ever had a problem with him. He just seems like a very nice man - certainly not one that I would normally be on-guard around.
Riley, apparently, feels differently. Who knows why, but whatever the reason, he obviously has his own thoughts and opinions. And when he shows them so strongly, and so rarely, I think I'd do well to trust him.