Some people are dog people, and some people aren't. This isn't a criticism; it's a statement of plain fact.

Some people are dog people, and some people aren't. This isn't a criticism; it's a statement of plain fact.

Here's how you tell: People who aren't dog people occasionally come face to face with someone else's family pet, and when they do, they give it the briefest of glances and continue with their conversation. The dog might as well be a stepstool.

Dog people, in contrast, will stop in the middle of a marriage proposal if a dog walks in.

"Oh!" they cry, as if the dog were walking upright and carrying drinks. "Aren't you cute! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!" Some of them get right down on the floor with the dog, assuming that they aren't wearing stockings.

As a person who has owned several long-term dogs and a couple that were just passing through, I indisputably belong to Group B, though even I sometimes sigh with regret when an interesting conversation goes out the window in favor of telling a dog that he's a good dog, yes he is.

And because I share, at least occasionally, that particular frustration of non-dog people, I've come to understand that dog people are not that different from their non-dog neighbors. My own mother was a non-dog person, for heaven's sake. Show her a puppy and she'd all but climb the curtains to escape.

"Just look at it!" I used to say. "Don't you see how cute it is?"

"Get it away," my mother would say.

Now that I'm older, I realize that my non-dog mother was beyond persuasion when it came to creatures with fur. I often pointed out a dog's floppy floppy ears and its waggly waggly tail, but I should have saved my breath. It would have been easier to teach a fish to type.

That's why I would never demand that my non-dog friends make a fuss over our newish dog, Pip. I understand that when they look at Pip, they see a generic dog, a dog that is probably jumping up on them in spite of our efforts to change this behavior.

I don't insist that people admire Pip's friendly eagerness, or appreciate his light touch when he stands with his paws on their waistband. I don't expect them to listen to me tell the story about The Time I Hid Behind the Door or The Time Pip Barked at a Package of Bathroom Tissue. I tell Pip to get down and I save the stories for those who want to hear them, such as my daughters.

My younger daughter mentioned the other day that she has retold the The Time I Hid Behind the Door story to several people. Every time she tells it, she said, she puts herself more into the scene.

"I hear myself saying, 'And you should have seen him ' just as if I saw him," my daughter told me. I understood. She may not have been a witness to that memorable incident, but she's a dog person. She speaks the language.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer: E-mail