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One of the surprising things about Bend, Oregon, is how friendly the dogs are that we meet at the local dog park. I don’t remember that being a criterion for choosing our house here over a year ago, but I had noticed it from the beginning. We had been more interested in price, and the value of what we could get for what monetary outlay we could afford. It sounds extravagant, but we could get approximately six times more house for the money here in Bend than we could get back in Berkeley, where I had chosen to live for fifty years. Not in size, but it would have cost a million dollars there to get what we have here. I think it’s because the economy is rotten in Bend, and there just isn’t much in the way of employment except servicing the retired community. But, if you are in that situation and have a modest outside income this is a great place to live. I do know several people who make a good living on the internet, mostly by programming and the various ways of creating web sites, but I think those are high-risk jobs because they can easily be shipped to India. Certainly, Berkeley has its perks, and they are not available anywhere else in the world, but the house you live in or the price of a cup of personally made coffee is much cheaper here in Bend.

But, back to the dogs. Why are the dogs here so dog-gone friendly? I don’t have a certain answer, but what I think is happening is that the humans approach each other as old friends. People here meet each other on the street and in the dog parks as if they already know them. The same is true when walking in the local wilderness and meeting someone on the trail. People greet each other in a friendly way and therefore the dogs, who tend to reflect their masters’ attitudes, also greet each other in a friendly way. Because this is the usual greeting, almost the universal greeting, the people and the dogs soon expect those they meet to be friendly. Everyone, people and dogs, starts off, not just neutral, but friendly and that attitude soon permeates every social interaction.

A quick and easy measure of a city’s friendliness is found with the dogs.