Friday, August 22, 2008

Cultural Conflicts

[Let me just note here that this post is in no way supposed to be skewed as racist - if you take it that way, then that's your problem. I am in no way trying to degrade another's culture or race by posting this.]

I've been struggling with some cultural issues in my apartment.


As you all know, I have a cute pup by the name of Panther who I take practically everywhere. Well, upstairs from me is a lovely Indian family - father, mother, and three children - and across the way are two young male Indian roommates who just moved in.

Well, I've found that they will all go out of there way to avoid Panther. When I say avoid, I mean walk as far away from me as possible, practically climbing the wall in the hallway, or walking through the nasty, wet grass to avoid Panther on the sidewalk.

And at first I though WTH?
Who would avoid this???
Really???? Is he that scary???

I was talking to my roommate about it one day, and she said they will walk completely the other way when she has her dog Ollie out (he's a pit mix, but a very sweet and playful looking dog). They have even been known to walk all the way around the back of the building to avoid her.


This really bothered me. And when I went out this morning to walk Panther, the guy across the way did a little shuffle backwards to avoid Panther's friendly hello (ears back, tail wagging). I felt so bad, because Panther really wanted to meet this new friend (Panther knows no strangers...), and I think it really did hurt his little feelings. I felt kind of bad, because when the guy walked out later, Panther got frustrated and started barking at him.


I'm just frustrated because everyone else loves Panther. Even the two firefighters that live in my building have no idea what my name is, but always give a "good morning Panther!" and a pat on the head when they see him.

So, this morning I thought, well maybe it's a culture thing. I found something on the web about people in India believing the dog to be an "unclean" animal. Apparently Muslims believe this too, and authorities have had a hard time using drug dogs in airports without infringing on their religious beliefs.


This isn't one of those, "go beck ter wheres ya came frum!" speeches, but reeeeaaally? In America, dogs are man's best friend, and I understand not stopping and talking to me because I have my dog with me, but going completely out of your way to avoid me? He's not going to bite you, and I promise not to let him touch you. Just don't treat me like I'm a leper, please.


Note to Self: Has anyone else dealt with this? Any thoughts?

14 comments:

dougsbike said...

You could always do what Brendel did when the Mayfields were scared of him. He got out of the gate, wandered to their house, somehow got the door open, and sat on their couch until they came home. :) Of course that may be why they moved...

pure evyl said...

Perhaps they are avoiding the temptation of wanting to have him for dinner.

colbymarshall said...

We've had these problems with people out with CCI dogs sometimes...we've gotten the "unclean dog" thing, and we've also had people who were just out and out afraid of dogs because where they are from, dogs are trained to fight. It's a tough thing to overcome inherited prejudices, even of the canine variety I guess!

SarahM said...

this is a middle eastern thing as well. calling someone a dog, or telling them to touch a dog- is kind of like a cultural insult.

its weird, your right. but my family would NEVER let me get a dog in the house for that reason.

MJ said...

DB - That's true. They left their car unlocked the other day, I could have just let him sit in there...<3

PE - LOL. The thought had crossed my mind...

CM - Glad I'm not the only one then. Who knew people could hate something so cute?

SM - Thanks for the clarification. I always feel so small-town-y when I don't know these things about other cultures!

Matt said...

Panther is such a stud.

MJ said...

Matt - Total pimp. I get hit on so much because of him lol.

Your Indian Neighbor said...

AY YI YI, MALIKI AKI PUNJABI!!!!

:(

...

AKI MALIKIN!

AY YI YI!!!

:(

...

Just kidding,
LIVIN

MJ said...

I like how you inserted "Punjab" - as in the Indian driver/body guard from the movie Annie.

LOL. Wow.

renaissanceronin said...

Here's what I do...
I gradually add curry to my pup's diet. Now, you have to do this slowly, or your house gets kinda "messy." Okay, disgustingly messy...
Then, whenever I see the "targets" of my discontent, I let the dog out. Now, since he's starting to get used to the smells and taste of curry, he heads right for them!
I laugh my butt off as they rapidly scamper back (while screaming curses in Arabic, that I write down for "further reference") into their houses, trying to avoid being licked to death by my "friendly" pup.
And, I've got it all on video tape, thanks to the cool setup I bought at that "raising bail money yard sale," when "Mister Manly" got hauled off for "peeping on his neighbors!"
That's guaranteed to make me a cool grand, when I show it to Country-Fried Home Videos!

MJ said...

RR - I'll be waiting on that one to show up on CMT :D

kweenmama said...

There are no people in our neighborhood from India so this whole dog thing is new to me. I'd never heard of it until your post. Interesting. Most people come up and talk to us about our dog when he's out because he's so funny looking--Welsh Corgi. The question we get the most is, "What IS that?"

teeni said...

I know someone decided that the dog is Man's Best Friend in America and I like them too, but really that is just generalizing and is never true for everyone. My mom is terrified of dogs and she would have done that same maneuver as your neighbors. Or better yet, she would have remained in her car or house and not gotten out if she saw you and Panther coming. It doesn't matter how big or small or vicious or friendly the dog is, some fears just don't make sense but that doesn't mean they are any less real for the sufferer. If you let your neighbors see that you won't allow Panther loose on them (LOL) and that you respect their desire for distance, maybe they will come to trust you and Panther. Maybe they never will, but it's still better to have that respect there for everyone involved.

MJ said...

KM - I love Corgis!

Teeni - I completely understand the fear. I have fear of dogs myself, but really only when they're not on a leash, stray, etc. I feel that I certainly go out of my way to keep my neighbors from being uncomfortable - I step off the sidewalk if possible, etc., but I can't really stay away if Panther has to pee and they're just hanging out outside my door...