My dogs are sweethearts. They’re big, they’re chaotic, and sometimes they’re very very noisy, but they’re sweethearts. Daisy (the pitbull) also tends to be fiercely protective of the kids and I… the time someone tried to break into our house in the night while David was gone I was only about 40% scared for me and the kids, the other 60% was scared for the poor robber because I knew the second he managed to jimmy that door open Daisy was going to end him. (He got the message from her snarling at him through the window and decided to move on to another house. Lucky for all of us.)
The family next door to us in this hotel are conservative Muslims who also happen to all be completely terrified of dogs. TERRIFIED. So every time we’ve run into each other while I was out walking the dogs it doesn’t matter how far away we are from them or how calm and friendly the dogs are being… they see the dogs and lose. their. shit. Specifically the dad who usually runs in front of his family yelling at me to keep the dogs away and generally panicking all over the place.
What I see is a man who has probably had VERY bad experiences with dogs in the past. I get it. My response is to turn around and walk the dogs the other way until they’re gone so they’re not uncomfortable because they’re a very nice family.
What Daisy sees is a large man acting erratically, running towards me (to get in front of his family), and yelling. Her response is the same as if he was trying to kill us all.
Which, as you can probably imagine, only makes them freak out more. And then it’s this chaotic spiral of increasing noise and panic and general chaos. It’s not awesome.
It’s been almost a week since I’ve seen them while I have the dogs (which is awesome) but occasionally now Daisy will just start barking at people. Just random people. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, she’s never done this before. But then I put it together. She barks at anyone dressed like a conservative Muslim. Her only experience with people who look like that has been this family.
So just like my neighbor sees a dog and thinks it’s going to kill him and his whole family (regardless of how it’s acting) because that has been his experience… my dog now sees someone brown wearing a hijab and thinks they’re going to kill her and her whole family (regardless of how they’re acting) because that’s been her experience. And there is probably no way at this point I could ever convince them to interact with each other long enough to realize their preconceived ideas are not based in reality. Ta da! That’s how racism happens!
And that, dear readers, is the story of how my dog became a racist. The end.