Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Teaching Tolerance

My dog is black. He is named after an African-American hero. And yet he has somehow developed a fear of people of color (and the very elderly!).

I used to dislike the fact that Satchel wanted to say hello to everyone. Living in a dense urban area and near a large public park, there are many people living on the streets in various stages of drug addiction or general insanity. Having a dog who wants to go jump on their laps and play for a while makes walking the city a tad bit unpleasant. So I was initially happy when his unbounded enthusiasm for visiting with the indigent seemed to be abating. But as it turns out, his newfound choosiness does not correlate with sanity or hygiene, but seems to be mainly racial.

Friendly neighbors he has gladly greeted for months are now met with a sudden stop in our walk, cowering behind my legs, and the occasional whimper. For the most part, these are non-white people who are getting the new treatment. The man at the grocery store we pass who has pet him at least a hundred times, the man running the questionable 'spa' next door, the man who sweeps on Monday nights-- these are all people who were part of our routine and who he used to be excited to see. Now he pulls me away before our chit chat even gets started. I try to laugh it off, but it's a little disturbing. Then yesterday we passed an elderly man with a bit of a limp on the street, and Satchel ran to the far edge of the sidewalk to avoid him. Last week he got freaked out by a (white) woman standing on my corner at 8 in the morning wearing a full length faux-leopard coat and a hat, but that was just good sense.

In his defense, he has proven himself a great friend to the disabled. Yesterday he all but ate the cane of a blind man in playing with him, and then he spent half of our time at the dog park running between the wheels of a man's wheelchair and trying to climb into his lap.

He also prefers poodle hybrids to other dogs. What a snob.


Blogger Peter said...

there's a curb your enthusiasm episode like this, except it's lesbians and black people. pretty funny. well, if you like larry david...

7:31 PM  

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