So, I’ve mentioned it before: I’m lousy at making friends.

Growing up a quiet geek doesn’t lend well to the pal-collecting abilities and now that I’ve advanced in age (thanks entropy), things are a little awkward.

I just don’t really recall how it all works and the thought of getting back into the friend-making game makes my brain tired. I’m generally a homebody, quiet kind of person and when you add a shyness factor, it makes it even tougher on my dorky psyche.

Contrary to what folks might think, I’m not an outgoing person.

Now is the time when I need a pooch.

You see, there’s a unique phenomenon in the North where you’ll encounter people’s animals far more than the actual owners. Having a dog in the North really is an extension of yourself. In fact, if you happen to be a dog owner, there are likely more people who are acquainted with your dog than with you.

Indeed, your pets might even be a little more popular than you are.

I know I’m not the only one who has a few casual acquaintances with pets and not their owners …

When I lived in downtown Whitehorse, almost every day you could see someone’s dog zooming down the street on some apparent doggy mission. Usually they would come over for a sniff and a pat, then run off on their merry little way.

Living out in Judas Creek afforded even more doggy pals as a regular pooch patrol would wander up and down the road, catching whatever action might be happening on a lazy afternoon.

I still, to this day, don’t really know where some of them came from but, with my roommate having a dog, it meant they’d all come for a visit, eventually.

My extent of animal husbandry was opening and closing the front door of the cabin. And I never really thought about what the dog was doing with the gang out there, but I was a little jealous that she had way more pals than I did.

She was even beating me on the neighbour front as most people I would run into out there had already been acquainted with her furry self – many times.

Maybe it’s easier to let your dog do all the neighbourhood socializing for you.

(Except that whole stealing-the-shoes-from-the-old-woman-down-the-road incident.)

I eventually heard through the human grapevine that Dixie had created a series of block parents around Judas Creek. She would make a circuit at these various houses, hang out for bit, maybe chow on a treat and then mosey to the next one.

I realize this is a particular Northern quality as most people have a casual view on the wandering habits of their pets. And we’ll just put the bylaw concerns aside, for a moment here, because the Yukon is one of the only places I know of where our animals become such a distinct part of the community – literally extensions of ourselves.

Love me, love my dog.

I can’t let a dog run around for me in Saskatoon, I guess. I’ll just buck up and stick to good ol’ handshaking and such.

But … if you spot a skinny yellow lab-cross running around Marsh Lake, past 11 p.m., tell Dixie to go home.