We had a couple of visitors coming in last week, costuming friends (I'll use their industry names, Saeru and Elemental) coming to stay the night and do a photoshoot. I was excited to have them. Then my sister reminded me that Elemental didn't like dogs.
I had totally forgotten this fact, because for the most part Elemental is a fairly neat person and I don't include dislike of dogs in my definition of "neat." But what the heck, we could manage for a day or two, surely. I have a large enough house that no one has to share space if they don't want to.
There was a reason for her dislike, I learned; she'd grown up in a less-than-idyllic neighborhood, where dogs were generally kept for the purpose of keeping other people away. My Dobermans were of a size and coloring which implied danger, and she froze up for a moment upon seeing Inky; it was a Rottweiler which used to break its chain and chase her down the street.
We were wholly disorganized on the day of their arrival, though, and they had more dog exposure than I had initially planned. When we packed up to depart for the photoshoot, Elemental realized she'd forgotten an item and ran back into the house with my husband. Shakespeare ran alongside them, happy and bouncing, and I felt a moment of chagrin. He was no threat, of course, but he was distinctly too close for someone who didn't like such things.
When Elemental returned to the van, she turned to face me and said sharply, "Your dogs break all the rules!"
Oh, no, I thought. Here it comes, I'm being a bad hostess and friend--
"They wag their tails and they're happy to see people and they're friendly! Dogs of that color scheme aren't supposed to be friendly! You're messing with my head!"
Well, there were worse things that could happen. :)
That was Saturday, when Elemental first met the dogs and learned how to invite them for petting or send them away neutrally. Sunday night, she was reclining on the couch, with Shakespeare in her lap, Inky leaning on her shoulder, and Laev upside down on the floor at her feet.
Monday it was decided that Saeru would move on without Elemental, rejoining at the convention where we'd all meet again that weekend. So Elemental stayed in the House of Dogs a bit longer.
Wednesday morning, Elemental watched a shaping session with Laev and then trained Shakespeare herself, teaching him to place his right front paw in a bucket on the cue "kumquat." (Hey, it was a random word not used for another cue!) She was pretty good at it, too! catching on faster than most. Her timing was very good for a novice, too; probably because she's a both a video gamer and a professional photographer.
I was very proud of my dogs and of my friend Elemental, both. And that, dear readers, is how we fight and overcome BSL -- by presenting good canine ambassadors and by being open-minded enough to see past appearances. Trapped in my house, Elemental amused herself by discussing philosophy and worldview with me. We spent a good deal of time on racism, I recall, and yet I never thought at the time how it was directly related to "breed-ism" in that judgment was made based solely on appearance. But that's what we had, and what we demolished, this weekend.