Black Dog White Dog

By Stuart Simons

Well now this is an odd one. I’ve written in the past about the plight of Males within the Grooming industry and this is similar to that in a bizarre way. I suppose in a really tenuous way it deals with racism or at least unconscious racism. 

For the last 17 years I have had white dogs. For a proportion of that time I have had 5 of them, all different shapes and sizes but one thing in common, they have all had white hair. In all of those years I have never ever had anyone say to me, whilst out walking their dogs, that their dog doesn’t like my dogs because they are white.

In March 2023, I got my first black dog. He is a beautiful Standard Poodle called Gilbert and he is just wonderful. In the 8 months that I have owned Gilbert, when out walking and going past a badly behaved dog, I have heard the phrase ‘Sorry about my dog, he has a thing about black dogs’ about 4 times a month. It really surprised me. First of all, I questioned myself. Have I ever said that whilst out walking my 5 white dogs? No, I don’t think so. Lots of people had joked that I had only white dogs but would they have joked in the same way had I had only black dogs??? I think a dogs a dog, they take as they find.

So what is it about that phrase that got me thinking? 

Im not completely sure. I think that in recent years a spotlight has been put on us as a society and this spotlight has highlighted all sorts of shortfalls within that society. Antisemitism, Islamaphobia, Homophobia…the list goes on. Is this simple phrase a form of unconscious racism or am I overthinking it? Is this the very thing that I have always argued against when it comes to the colour of peoples skin, that people can find an insult in anything if they look hard enough, actually completely incorrect and they have every right to feel insulted?? 

The truth is that I don’t think that the people that say phrases like this are consciously racist, I don’t think they have any knowledge of their reaction. They are responding to their dogs behaviour. I just wonder why, when their dog reacts badly to a white dog (which it will do), that they don’t say the same phrase about white dogs. Is it something underlying deep within our psyche as a predominantly white nation that we instinctively but unconsciously discriminate? 

I find it really interesting. I find it exposing and I feel awakened by it. Should we all have a deeper sense of responsibility when using our language to ensure that no one is offended. Would the lady that used that phrase to me say the same to me had I also been black? 

On reflection and having considered this for quite some time, I think that no matter your creed, colour, sexuality or pronoun, we must all be considerate, patient and respectful of each other. Language matters no matter who you are or what you look like and we all have feelings that can get hurt. Conscious thought, thinking before you speak and being kind is really the only way forward. As humans, we might slip up but as long as we can be educated we can learn to do better. 

A dog will react badly to another dog because of lots of reasons and one may very well be because that dog has dark hair (probably something to do with the eyesight of the badly behaved dog) but it’s more likely to be one of a host of many other reasons that we as humans will never know about without asking a long list of questions about the other dog. To assume it’s because of the colour of the hair is, in reality, completely ridiculous.