You know those videos where the dad, who didn’t want the dog at first, slowly becomes his friend? Yeah, that’s me for the most part.
I’ve never owned a dog until about four years ago. Growing up in the Caribbean, dogs were either used for protection or were one of many strays roaming the streets. I’ve been chased and almost bitten a few times, so I harbored a special resentment towards them. I had no desire to own one until I had a family. Even then, it took about 12 years. My son asked and asked until he pretty much gave up. Then we finally caved in and figured it would be a great lesson about responsibility. Sure, my upbringing still kicks in sometimes. I don’t kiss my dog. in the mouth. I don’t look on him as a child. I might roll my eyes when I see my wife forget he’s not a human, but little did I know the effect it would have on all of us and the joy “Elroy” would bring to the house.
All this to say, I know I’m not alone. Black folks and dogs have a complex relationship. Since moving to the United States in the ’90s, I’ve realized Black people in America aren’t that different when it comes to how they view the relationship between dogs and humans.
I spoke with another converted dog lover, author and educator Joshunda Sanders. In the video above, she shares her perspective on the complicated history between African-Americans and canines. She also discusses how becoming a dog owner and seeing other Black dog owners can be therapeutic and brings her joy.