In nearly every country I visit, I end up meeting an ill-tempered animal. Whether it’s age, lack of socialization or it’s a stray that’s been brutalized by strangers, I invariably come face to face with animal that bites first, calms down later, if at all.

At the Hotel Jorgensen, the owner Lars has a rather old black Peke. Paulee bites people who reach towards it, legs that go by too fast, and anyone who has the temerity to go behind his master’s hotel counter.

I like challenges. So I decided, after he had gone after me several times, to find out what worked.

Didn’t take long. Paulee’s long body keeps him from being able to get after his ears, under his neck and around his collar. Once I’d finally gotten his haughty permission to touch him there, he melted under my fingernails. After that, he began to recognize the “hands lady.”

He even wagged his tail in greeting one day, which made Lars and me laugh out loud. That’s progress indeed.

So many of us dismiss animals that strike out without asking why. This Peke may have had one too many bad guest experiences behind his owner’s back. Or, bad eyesight and age may make him fearful.

Doesn’t matter.

Now as soon as Paulee smells my hands he gives me his shaggy head to scrub, and then his chin.

We’re both quite happy.

I find this approach works remarkably well with people, too. Every living creature has a reason for being ill-tempered. Sometimes it just takes a little understanding and patience to find out what works best.