Doggie Racism Is Real! Here's How to Deal

Race Manners: Maybe your friends' pets are doing you a favor? At least now your social circle can't ignore race.

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I have a two-step recommendation for what to do when dogs lose it around your sweet, sensitive, animal-loving, only-brown-person-around husband.

First, see everything Dodman explained above? Remember it, because you're going to need to relay it to your friends so that they know exactly what's happening. Make it clear that no one thinks the barking dog's owners are intentionally training "racist watchdogs" like the ones marketed "especially for South African circumstances" in the 1980s (I think we can give your friends the benefit of the doubt here). This will set the stage for the joke your husband is going to make.

Yes, step 2 is that your husband should make a joke. He has to. Immediately.  

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!

Or, you know, whatever's funny to him.


The joke is important because it has the potential to help everyone -- especially your husband -- relax. Which is all part of the plan. I'm no dog behaviorist, but the fact that these situations cause enough stress in social situations to inspire this letter suggests to me that it must get pretty tense in the moment, too. And that the animals involved can tell. Here's what Dodson said about that:

If the dog barks and the person recoils, the dog registers a victory ... And even if the person doesn't recoil or show fear visible to the human eye, the dog's sharp eye and sharper nose can sense fear in a tiny gesture or a whiff of sweat.

In other words, if your nice, friendly husband is as concerned as you are about the right way to deal with the barking, all that tension is making the situation worse (he's not scared of being attacked, but he's scared of making a scene, which I'm guessing registers about the same to the dog), and I can't think of a better way than a joke to defuse it.