I have a friend named Joe.

Joe’s youngest son Robert and my own son Robby are buddies. They played on a lot of the same teams in youth sports, as well as at Staples. Joe loves his son Robert. He tells me he loves my son Robby, too. Loves the way he competes.

Joe also loves his wife, Pam. And his oldest son, Andrew. And his daughter, Kathryn.

There’s one thing that Joe doesn’t love, though. And that’s dogs.

He pretends to like Sable, his daughter’s Pit Bull-Rottweiler-Boxer-Chow mix. As Pam tells it, Joe only does this so his daughter will still come over and visit.

He also used to pretend to like my old dog. He knew I wouldn’t be his friend if he showed he didn’t like Ricky the Beagle.

Enter Kemba the Duck Toller, my new dog.

Joe and Pam and a bunch of other folks were our guests out at Montauk over the Fourth of July weekend. Now dogs are supposed to have an innate sense of the people around them: which ones are afraid of them, which ones are a soft touch for treats, which ones like them, and which ones don’t. I was sure Kemba would catch a strong whiff of Joe’s I’m-not-a-dog-person vibe. And maybe he did.

But this is how he reacted to him.

Day One: Every time Kemba finishes frolicking in the ocean, he trots up to our half circle of sand chairs, finds Joe, and then shake-shake-shakes himself dry — sand and water spraying. Oh, and just so you know? Besides not liking dogs, Joe isn’t all that fond of the beach, never goes in the ocean, and hates getting sand on and in his clothes. He pretends not to be be upset with Kemba, though I do see him grimace a little.

Day Two: When Kemba finishes with fetching balls — finally — he likes to settle down very near someone in his pack. On this day, the person he chooses is ... Joe. Before he settling down, though, he prepares himself a little den. He uses his front paws to dig vigorously, sand flying out behind him. And who is in the line of fire? Yup. Joe. But Kemba isn’t quite done. His den is good, but not perfect. So he digs some more. More sand is sprayed on Joe’s bathing suit, his tee-shirt and in his hair. Joe takes it pretty well, though. A kind of pained look on his face, but no complaining.

Day Three: After chasing Bandit and Monty and Sofia and Romeo and his other dog friends all over the beach, Kemba saunters back to join our group. Today he opts to skip his den-building. He just wants to catch his breath and snuggle close to one of us. I’m pretty sure he’s going to choose me. Or maybe my wife. Or Robby. But he strolls by each of us ... and then makes himself at home right in front of Joe. He looks comfy and content. But apparently he’s not quite close enough to his new pal. He scrunches up even closer, so that he’s actually lying on Joe’s feet. He shifts again, so he can rest his head on Joe’s knees. There, that seems to be good.

I see, ever so briefly, a little half-smile crinkle across my friend Joe’s face.

Baby steps.

“The Home Team” appears every other Friday. Keep up with Hank’s adventures on his blog, “Beagle Man,” on the Westport News website, http://blog.ctnews.com/beagleman. To reach Hank, e-mail him at DoubleH50@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BeagleManHank.