Crossing the Street

March 14, 2011  

Even my own neighbors do it when they see me coming down the sidewalk!

By Doyle Albee

Most of us have heard of people who cross the street to avoid walking too close to a person of another race.

We usually cry out at such behavior. How can you judge a person by the color of his or her skin? It’s not the race, it’s the individual! Nevertheless, I often see people in my own neighborhood crossing the street to avoid my Staffordshire bull terrier because she’s a race (breed) they’re not comfortable with.

My family adopted our Stubbydog, Brecken (the Celtic word for “spotted”), from the Boulder Valley Humane Society in Colorado. Brecken had been found as a stray, so the shelter had no background information on her. But she’s one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever encountered, and she passed the Boulder Valley Humane Society testing for compatibility with flying colors.

But that makes no difference to people who can’t see past the fact that she’s a “pit bull,” with all the bad connotations.
So they cross the street.

Let me be blunt: Shame on them. They’re missing the chance to meet one of the most wonderful animals I’ve ever known. All because of her “race.”

(Photo: Brecken, right, and fellow Boulder Valley Human Society refugee Brooklyn, a boxer.)

In addition to my wife and two teenagers, I share my home with four refugees from various animal rescue organizations. But Brecken, my only pit bull, is my special friend. This wonderful companion, whom people cross the street to avoid, is terrified of the vacuum cleaner (on or off), is too scared to walk on a floor where carpet has been replaced with hardwood, and runs from flash cameras. Yet, she is vilified by the media – and by my neighbors – as a dangerous dog, all because of the way she looks.

We need to judge animals the way we judge people. A race is not good or bad. Neither is a breed. There are good dogs, and there are bad dogs. The breed does not determine that. I just ask that you judge Brecken and her fellow Stubbydogs by how they act as individuals, not by their breed/race.

So, if you decide the cross the street to avoid a dog, I hope it’s because the dog is acting badly, not simply because the dog has physical characteristics you find frightening.

To do so, bluntly, is wrong. Heck, I’ll even call it racist.

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