A writer for Mother Jones bemoaned most dog parks as unbearable and “unapologetically white” in an article about what she described as a painful experience trying to help her beloved terrier become more social.
“Let’s Make Dog Parks Less Racist,” the article by Jamilah King is about her affection for Zora, her 5-year-old Jack Russell terrier. She wrote that she in not ashamed to admit that she spoils the pup and even enlisted a “professional dog whisperer” to help with the dog’s socialization skills.
King lives in a section of Brooklyn “deep enough for gentrification to produce the occasional white neighbor, but also deep enough that nearly every single business is an immigrant-owned establishment.” She wrote that there are no immediate dog runs in her neighborhood but she frequented a park that she praised as being “black. Very black.” She said the interactions there are positive ones and with people who love to spoil their pets.
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She wrote about the occasion where Anthony, the white “dog whisperer,” took the two on 20-minute walk to a makeshift dog run. She wrote that Zora appeared pensive at first and hesitated to join the 15 or so dogs running in a pack.
She wrote that Anthony taught her effective ways to communicate with Zora. But she also mentioned an uncomfortable encounter when she was approached by a white woman, Dog Park Debbie, who felt the need to demonstrate “her preferred way” to interact with dogs.
“She spoke softly and slowly, as if I might have trouble understanding. And then, the final insult: Did my dog have a coat? I should really get her a coat. It’s Brooklyn and it’s cold,” King, who pointed out that Zora has several coats, wrote.
King wrote that Dog Park Debbie made her feel like others who have given her side-eye glances and have “Lots of Opinions about what you’re doing wrong.”
“They make the meaningless and surprisingly refreshing dog park banter—What’s your dog’s name? How old? Is she nice?—suddenly charged,” she wrote.
She ended the article by writing that she is in no rush to go back to the make-shift dog park.