Author, biracial, cats, Chicklit, Chihuahua's, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, dogs, felines, Fiction, Guide Dogs, Indie Author, Labrador Retrievers, Labradors, Multicultural, Turkish Angoras, Uncategorized

Dogs by any other name….

Does my Labrador Retriever know that he is? do my Chihuahua’s know that they are just that?  At what point do we go from being proud of our culture and ethnicity to ethnocentrism? That we devalue all others and exclude people and other ways of life.

The line is fine and easily crossed. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in melting pot areas of the country like I am, that can find Arabic bakeries and Asian markets along with Polish and Italian meat markets, Soul food restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Indian food and everything in between (My taste buds should never get bored) have an opportunity to enjoy many cultures without ever having to get on a plane. Now you would think that with all these ethnicities I live in a utopia where everyone gets along. Yeah, no! I have heard phrases like ‘marry your own culture’ and witnessed people who will not talk to you because even though they are living in the land of a really humongous statue that says ‘Bring me your huddled masses’, huddle only with their own. Birds of a feather…….

My Labrador is yellow and weighs 80 pounds. He is a retired Guide Dog for the Blind. He is smart, playful and loves to…you guessed it….retrieve. He still tries to Guide on occasion forgetting that he is retired and I am not blind. So I wonder what is his culture? Guiding was taught to him so that is not part of his culture, that was his job. Maybe  retrieving, killing and destroying toys is part of his true culture. (hover your mouse over the pictures)

brooks (2)

Brooks the ex-Guide dog toy destroyer

My Chihuahua’s were there first and Brooks had to adjust to their way of life, much like the Chi’s had to adjust to feline culture when they arrived. The Turkish Angora’s (Yes we are a multiracial feline/canine household) showed the then 1lb puppies the ropes and how things were done in their feline Arab American household. They grew up speaking cat and had an overwhelming love of them even though cat was not in their DNA.

Cat culture

Cat culture

Brooks never got a chance to learn the ancient and honorable feline culture from the elder statesmen of the feline tribe since all the cats have passed on, but the Chi’s have done their best to educate and depart the time-honored feline knowledge and culture of their feline Arab American brothers and sisters to him. Sleeping anywhere he pleases is one of his favorite adopted cat culture activities he’s learned.

Now Chihuahua’s it’s been rumored are not descendants of wolves but from Fennec foxes from Mexico. An interesting theory because that would mean over the many years Chihuahua’s have been human’s pocket companions we have been forcing a domestic canine culture and silly clothes on a native desert animal. Sound familiar in human history? Do my Chi’s tolerate domesticated wolf culture, sparkly shirts that say grrrl power or tuxedo t-shirts for the boy Chi, or do they pine for the desert life of their ancestral homeland? That would explain the burrowing in blankets and sunning themselves in 90 degree temps while their much larger canine companion enjoys air conditioning. Labs are after all from Newfoundland not as the name might imply Labrador, where colder temps are normal.

bindi cheech

Psst! We’re actually foxes!

fennec fox 2

Yo no soy un perro! (I am not a dog!)

My 4 legged household companions can teach us all a lesson in diversity and getting along. Enjoying and learning from each other’s differences and recognizing that we all share in one universal culture, human culture. We all want ultimately the same things, family, faith, love, a nice place to live and enough to eat, a bright future for our children and to be able to carry on our legacy through them, plus small dogs to dress up. Be proud of who you are and the heritage you came from, take the positive lessons of your ancestors and the good things of your culture and move them forward, share them with others and enjoy the diversity and history of another. Mix it up a little, I’m a firm believer in once you learn about it, you end up respecting it and your world is a richer place for it.

Then again maybe I’m being Pollyanna. (an excessively or blindly optimistic person.)

Part of Chihuahua culture is staring, giving off subliminal messages till you give up the coveted object. Something they learned from their feline Arab American upbringing.

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The Era of Too Much Information

“Yeah, he punched her in the eye and knocked out her contacts. She slapped him back and grabbed his gun and shot him in the chest.”

I swear I wasn’t ear hustling when I heard this snippet of cell phone conversation. I was minding my business on my lunch break, checking my text messages and Twitterings on my phone. After hearing this cell phone convo with was happening in a very public area mind you, I felt like I was intruding on something very personal.

Over my years at the office, I’ve overheard conversations from coworkers about deadbeat baby daddies, bailing family members out of jail and shut off utilities. I even had one interesting situation where I’m in the ladies room washing my hands and the girl in the stall is on her phone blabbing about her overbearing boyfriend who decided to hang out with the boys at the strip club the night before. Already getting an information overdose, things get really awkward when a woman walks into the ladies room with her six year old; it’s take your kid to work day after all. Not even caring who may be hearing her expletive laced conversation, the girl continues flapping her jibs. Me feeling bad for the kid having to hear this garbage, I turn to her and asks how her day was going so far.

The too much information trend isn’t just limited to cell phone conversations. A lot of my family members and friends use Facebook as a means to stay in touch since we’re scattered all over the country. Social media is good that way. It also has a dark side. Some of my relatives have a tendency to reveal too much of their personal lives. I’ve seen feuds between cousins get nasty and escalate to the point where elders in the family have to intervene. Or my dear relative who publicly declares that her husband is a no good, cheating, lying dog and that she’s leaving him. An hour later everything is copacetic and she’s madly in love with him again. What right does she have to get offended a week later when somebody makes a comment about how he’s treating her? If she didn’t want anyone’s opinion, why did she air her business in the first place?

I’m from the school of keeping some situations private except for a select few trusted individuals. I just value my privacy and don’t want everyone knowing my business. Once you put your business out there you open the door for nosy people to slide in with their snide comments or opinions. So if I’ve got to make a call concerning personal matters, I take it to the car or leave the conversation at home. It’s something to think about the next time you want to discuss the crooked aunt who just ripped off your bank account or your jail prone cousin Junebug on your lunch break.

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