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It is fascinating to observe how the barrier of talking to a stranger can easily crumble down when all parties involved can sense at least one common interest among themselves. In my case, dogs simply had the magic of melting all of our hearts.

I check in at the local park with my dog, Bamdal, every day when it isn’t raining so heavily in RainVancouver and I often run into around 2-3 people per day or even more on some days.

To help the reader understand what kind of person I am, first of all, my MBTI is INFP, which means that an introverted mind is part of my nature. In conclusion, my social battery tends to run out faster than other extroverted people’s. Without my dog, meeting new people outside as an introvert would be a blessing in disguise. Ever since I adopted my dog, however, I am approached every day with:

“May I say hello to your dog?”

“What is your dog’s name?”

These short and simple yet so disarming questions make strangers not so strange. Even if we don’t discuss anything else except dogs, we become each other’s most favourable familiar stranger. We do not exchange numbers or share other personal details yet we meet again on the same spot at the park as if we had made a prior promise.

These interactions allow me to question what “stranger” really means. There are many kinds of strangers to me.

  1. Strangers I do not know exists –
    • Typical labelling of someone I do not know exists in this world. At the same time, how can I label someone as a stranger if I do not feel estranged by their lack of presence?
  2. Strangers I have never met before but know of their presence
    • There are many celebrities and acquaintances I have never met before but am aware of their presence. Sometimes, googling a celebrity and reading up their life history on wikipedia just makes them a familiar stranger somehow.
  3. Strangers I know (or at least assume to know) very well
    • People grow up and thus, they come and go. A lot of people come into my life at the most unexpected time and they also leave most unexpectedly. They once were people I knew very well. At the same time, they only become strangers when they divert away from the image you have constructed of them, meaning that their familiarity is lost. So are they really a stranger (you do not know) or are they rather someone who you truly know now?

Whether my dog has taught me to just waggle my inner tail and to genuinely feel happy about meeting someone new or to accept new relationships in my life, I am feeling so thankful to have such valuable opportunities to dive into other people’s lives for a while and to learn about how other people are doing in this world.

I am also feeling blessed to have this space where I can connect with others over shared interests.

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