“One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right” – One Love By Bob Marley
My dog is a three year old shelter mutt. I found him in a random pet store in the middle of Marietta, Ohio while I was killing time waiting on my ex husband. He had been at the pet store for three days and was almost a promotional pet to encourage people to visit the shelter. I spent a few hours with him that day in the pet store and when we left for the weekend I had signed adoption papers. The shelter that was housing him found him in a lumbar yard, and that’s about all I really know about the first year of his life before I adopted him. I seem to be the only one who accepts not knowing his genetic make-up.
People ask all the time what he is and my response is always this, “he’s my shelter mutt.” My response is then followed by blank stare with an inquisitive look at Carson. Before they even speak I say “the shelter said that he’s a miniature pincher and hound mix.” Because that’s actually what his paperwork says, and for whatever reason I want to appease the people who are hunting for his ancestry. The responses I get range from a confused, “oh ok, well he’s adorable” to a flat out, “no that’s not what he is” followed by an insertion of their opinion.
I have one question to all of you. Does it really matter? If you want to know what breed he is because you want to get a dog that’s of that breed, that’s perfectly acceptable. Once you hear that he’s a shelter mutt, why is that not an acceptable answer? We transfer this same skepticism into our daily lives with each other. When we meet someone new we always ask where they are from. We all do it, but try this… When someone asks you what you are, try saying “I’m American” and see the baffled look you get in return. Even when I was volunteering in Ghana I was asked where I was from. When I said I’m American or I’m from the United States I was asked which state I lived in. Again, some out of genuine curiosity, but other out of the need to place an identity to me, just like my dog. If he’s not a pure bread dog or I don’t know exactly what combination of breed he is, does that make him less or a dog? That doesn’t take away the fact that he’s my best friend and companion. He’s the one who has been consistently there for me through the past few years of my life (and they have been a hell of a few years). In our generation we are hell bent on loving people for who they are, for what color their skin is, for their religious and cultural preferences. We are striving for the “one love” dream that Bob Marley sings about.
My heritage and my dog’s breed history is definitely a part of who we are. I can’t deny that because that’s where our hair color, eye color, and skin tone come from, that’s science. I want to look at people for who they are, what they think and feel, I want to judge if they are someone I want in my life based on their personality and character traits. I don’t need to scrutinize what their background. I will love you for you just as I love my dog for the shelter mutt that he is.
Feature photo credit: Chasing Eden Photography