You know when you're walking with your dog and you get to the dog park and he's barking at another dog's owner and you feel super embarrassed because you're just trying to take a fucking walk in the park? And then you realize that...oh...that dude/woman he's barking at is not Caucasian and it slowly dawns on you that your dog might be just a little bit racist? Well, one dog owner has had this experience and she wants to know how to deal with you and your racist dog.
"Needing a Doggie Olive Branch" wrote in to Jenée Desmond-Harris' "Race Matters" column at The Root to ask how to handle dogs that are racist to her husband:
"We live in a diverse urban city. I am white and my husband is Filipino and white, but he's often mistaken for Indian or black/mixed because of his dark complexion. He is great with animals in general and is a supersweet, calm, gentle person; we foster rescue dogs that are really sensitive, and they love him! But on several occasions when we're meeting with co-workers and friends, their dogs will bark and act aggressively toward him, yet not toward the other white people who are also present.
...Is there a polite thing that we can do or say to alleviate this socially?"
NDOB (not a Dan Savage-worthy acronym, but it'll do in a pinch) clarifies that once the dog spends a little time with her husband, it gets used to him. Sort of like with human animals and other human animals who are gay.
Okay so this is a real thing? Desmond-Harris explains that dogs, like babies, can develop aversions to people because of the way they were trained or because they're dogs and they don't know how to deal with things that aren't regularly on their schedule, like food or walks or playing or a black person.
To handle this situation and not make you the pariah of the dog park, she suggests a joke like the following:
"Whoa! OK, Muffin — I know you don't see that many brown people, but I'm not dangerous. Don't pull a George Zimmerman and attack me! I don't even have Skittles!"
"OK, I know I'm the only Filipino guy here, but Dan is the only one in salmon-colored shorts. He deserves to be attacked!"
Maybe the second one would be better; everyone can rally around salmon-colored shorts but it's not clear whether George Zimmerman/Skittles jokes will be funny anytime soon. Desmond-Harris suggests that actually, Fido might have given you the opportunity to have some fruitful conversations with your friends about race, because "small nods to race and identity can strip away shame and secrecy":
"Maybe the dogs are doing you a favor by setting this up. Becoming comfortable with talking about race might not be the easiest thing, but tiptoeing around it and suppressing it in an effort to be polite is about as unproductive as collectively trying to ignore a barking dog."
If you don't want to get all Real Talk over a dog, there's an easier solution to NDOB's problem. She says that she and her husband mostly hang out with "dog people." Get some cat friends! Those animals don't give a shit about anybody.
Doggie Racism Is Real! Here's How to Deal [The Root]
Image via Lilane Polak/Flickr