Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pickles Isn't Racist

Pickles isn't racist.  I know all about racism.  I lived in the Deep South and worked for a Civil Rights based NGO for goodness sake.  And Pickles is not racist.

My colleague Seth has agreed that he might just be stupid. 

But, let me back up a little.  Pickles is my new puppy.

Cute, no?  I bought him at the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (the pound) in Nairobi.  He's a 3-month-old mutt with a little Doberman in the mix.  I named him 'Pickles' in honor of the pet name given to the title character in my all-time favorite zombie themed romantic comedy, Shaun of the Dead.  He also earned the moniker because I used to live in Mississippi, where Kool-Aid Pickles ("Koolickles") were a popular snack.

Presenting the Koolickle
On the compound where I live, we have a pretty regular stream of Pickles-Admirers.  My ex-pat colleagues have all been very lovely to him and so he's gotten used to their constant petting.  But, whenever one of our national staff comes by, Pickles, my usually sweet-tempered, occasionally whiny dog, actually barks.  As I write this, Wycliffe, one of our logistics managers, is receiving an onslaught of semi-ferocious growling.  Charles, our construction manager, had to deal with it earlier.  He peed on my foot when my Swahili teacher Edna came by the first time and he doesn't even like Ubu, our Country Director's African dog.

So, my neighbors have decided he's racist.

Back to the pound for a minute: I chose Pickles out of a whole group of adorable puppies because he was the only one eating a rock.  So, I don't think he's racist so much as he is straight stupid.  And, there's really no comparison point for him, since all the new people he's meeting are African.  (Believe it or not, Bungoma isn't really a center of racial diversity.)  Further in his defense, he really likes the four Kenyans who live on our compound.  So maybe he's not even stupid; maybe he's one of the few toddler-pups ever to recognize stranger danger.  But he's not racist!

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