In my experience, a dog can be a natural bridge between two people. I cannot count the times my big adopted dog did her part, making sure I knew my neighbors and local shopkeepers. Sometimes it was her extra-large size that prompted a conversation with a stranger. Sometimes her unexpected presence in a room allowed me to escape a knot of people. She didn't know I needed saving or how she was helping me, but my lowered anxiety was tangible.
A dog's natural ability to diffuse a room is powerful and effective because I have also experienced it in the doggy loft at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. I have watched an agitated person walk into a room, spy an old dog doing anything from being cute while they nap to being cute as they trot across the floor, and see their limbs and expression visible relax. I imagine their blood pressure is lowering as their face transforms into soft eyes and maybe a smile.
Last week I found myself soothing myself and a dog simultaneously by holding his little body close to my chest, walking around, doing slow deep rumbling breaths together. After a manager spied us together on a bench, I learned that he had previously been known to be spicy and have potential behavior issues. I didn't experience any of this. We snuggled and went for a nice energetic walk around the block. He even hugged me when I picked him up!
I do believe dogs can be pretty good at reading the energy in a room. I watch their eyes and body language when I walk into the doggy loft. One of the best qualities of older dogs is how much they know, how aware they are of people. It is meditative for both of us when a dog wants or needs reminding that they are loved. Sharing close cuddles or calming deep breaths, we both relax.
Has a dog helped calm you? Have you experienced a dog as a room diffuser? Share your stories in the comments!