I was super excited to learn, via Elyse Wanshel and the Huffington Post, that there’s a Facebook page that highlights all the great dogs that UPS drivers meet when delivering packages. UPS Dogs was created back in August of 2013, by Sean McCarren, a UPS veteran of seventeen years. With all that is good about the internet, Sean was able to connect with other UPS drivers to share the joys of meeting some wonderful dogs along their travels.
There are great stories shared like UPS driver Michael who met Bailey, a dog that is part of the PAWS (petting away worries and stress) dog program at the University of Minnesota, while making deliveries. Bailey instantly came up to Michael and started giving him kisses. Michael several months earlier had lost his faithful companion, a dog named Buddy, and had been going through a great deal of anxiety and depression over the loss. But Bailey’s unconditional love has helped Michael find some closure.
You’ll find lots of pictures of dogs in, on, and around UPS trucks, as they rush out to greet their regular UPS drivers. Here’s Zoey and Cleo rushing out to greet UPS driver Mark Almeida in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts.
Or Cooper from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, greeting his favorite UPS driver.
And UPS driver Deb Kaukonen on her rural route in Northern California, with one of her dog friends, Luna. As you can see Luna is quite happy to see Deb.
The Facebook page is run by UPS drivers and is not a UPS corporate-sponsored site. And to that, I say kudos to UPS for not getting all corporate and legal on everyone and just letting dogs be dogs. The internet seems to agree since UPS Dogs has over 830,000 followers on Facebook.
UPS Dogs branched out and is now on Instagram as well, with 65,000 followers. UPS Dogs is just a great display of a hard working group of UPS drivers telling the story of the dogs they encounter as they deliver packages all day long.
And although most of the dogs that the drivers encounter are friendly, there are occasionally run ins with dogs that are not so nice and do not appreciate the UPS trucks driving down their street. Ad Age reported that about 900 UPS drivers were bitten in 2015, a stat that had held steady for the past five years. With about 100,000 drivers, that’s less than 1%, but it’s still a serious issue. The US Postal Service has a much higher rate of dog bites, 6,549 in 2015, alone.
Here at Good Dog in a Box, we created a fun game called SAFE to teach kids how to act when approached by a strange dog, to avoid getting bitten. It’s easy to learn and has been greeted with a lot of enthusiasm from the elementary school aged set.
But can the SAFE game help our friends at UPS and the US Postal Service? I think so. When my sister, professional dog trainer Jenn Merritt, CPDT-KA, developed SAFE, I was skeptical. I mean, is it really going to make a difference to an upset or scared dog for you to “stay still and chill?” I was pleasantly surprised to find out, indeed it does.
I frequently walk along country roads around my house. In the past six months, I’ve had four separate run ins with extremely upset dogs who have run up to me, growling and barking as I walk by. The first time it happened, my husband was with me, and we were both really uneasy. OK, I was scared! My husband started yelling at the dog, which agitated it and caused it to growl even more. I told my husband to be quiet and play the SAFE game. We were still, arms crossed, and we looked away from the dog at the ground. To our surprise the dog stopped growling almost instantly. After an additional 15 to 20 seconds of barking at us, it then sniffed us a couple of times, turned around, and went back into its own yard. We waited till the dog was on the other side of the yard and we quietly walked down the street.
This was not a one time incident. I had three other occasions where I was approached by a growling dog that ran up to me while I was walking by. Each time I played the SAFE game and the dog lost interest as soon as I quit moving. I think it’s everyone initial instinct to either yell at the dog or run. This can make things much worse.
Take the case of the eleven children that were attacked last year in the small coastal town of Blyth in Northumberland, England, that we blogged about on May 25, 2016, in “Dog Attack in Blyth, England Highlights the Need for SAFE Dog Bite Prevention.” Three required hospitalization and two required surgeries. Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ilana Reisner of the Reisner Veterinary and Behavior Consulting Services in Media, Pennsylvania commented on the incident on her Facebook page: “In an unfortunate example of a vicious cycle, the children’s screaming and running triggered more arousal in the dog, until he was over threshold, physiologically up-regulated, and completely out of control. Maybe there is no safe alternative once a dog is aroused, but the running, screaming and chaos clearly made things much worse.”
So, for kids and UPS drivers everywhere, learn the SAFE game and try it the next time you’re approached by a strange dog. When a dog realizes you’re not a threat and you’re actually pretty boring, you’ll be more likely to come away from the encounter without being harmed.
Do you have story about being approached by a threatening dog? Share it with us and help us spread the word about being SAFE around all dogs.
Check out our kid and dog friendly, reward based training tools at Good Dog in a Box!
Share with us how your family and friends have used Good Dog in a Box! Share your pictures on our social media. We’d love to hear from you. Let’s keep kids and dogs SAFE together!