If you’re a pet owner of color, you know what I’m talking about. You can’t walk a mile with your doggo without some white woman swooping in to pet your poor critter. Sometimes they’ll even try to pick it up — or kiss it.
It’s like these women feel entitled to our dogs, as if they’re public property. It’s really off-putting and makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know these women, and I don’t want them getting all up in my dog’s personal space — or mine. They need to respect our boundaries and keep their hands to themselves — unless we give them explicit permission to interact and touch.
I usually just give a forced smile and say something like, “Oh, he loves strangers,” but inside I’m seething. Inside I know that just a few years ago many of these same women would have approached in the same way — to touch my Black hair.
It’s not that I don’t think people should be able to pet my dog, because he is adorable and does love attention. But there is a difference between someone who politely asks to pet him and someone who just comes up and starts touching him without permission. The latter makes me feel like my personal space is being invaded, and it sends the message that the property of a person of color is up for grabs by white women.
And there is the much darker side to this phenomenon. White women <–>dog interceptions can also be dangerous — even deadly for the owner.
Many people of color are rightfully suspicious of strangers who try to touch them or their belongings without permission. It’s a basic boundary violation that can quickly escalate into something more threatening. And when it comes to our dogs, they are often the first line of defense against would-be assailants.
When some random white woman feels entitled to put her hands all over Fido, she’s essentially putting both you and your pet in danger. Even if the intentions are good (I’ll offer the benefit of doubt for most of the cases), dogs often don’t like being accosted by total strangers — especially if they’re not used to it. This goes doubly when the stranger is from an outsider and different looking culture that has historically hunted families of color for sports.
Dogs are smart and can sense a lot more than we think.
White dog interceptions can lead to bites or other accidents that could have been easily avoided had the person just respected your dog’s space. And that, of course, can lead to the police being called on a person of color.
I don’t need to spell out the tragic end to that story.
So please, for the sake of everyone involved, but especially the person of color you are effectively trying to force into a fatal police interaction: keep your damn hands (and mouth) off of other people’s pets unless you have explicit permission from the owner to do your white woman smoochie-schmoo. You’re being a pest, and your pathological need for intimate interactions with strangers and their pets can mean death for us.