White Dog Ranch. Day 5. White Dog, The Other White Dog, and the WannaBe White Dog sat in row in front of me this morning and demanded my attention. I looked up. White Dog cleared her throat and began, "We are all wondering what we should do about yesterday's 'incident'." I must of looked puzzled because Dragon jumped in with, "you know, that mean person who hurt Michael's feelings." I nodded now understanding that they were upset about Michael's time spent volunteering (as he does every Sunday) at the animal adoption center.
Michael has been volunteering twice a week for about a month now. He enjoys his time caring for the animals and has been given more and more responsibility as he has proven himself. Yesterday, however, the woman who is usually there to run things and who has had nothing but good things to say about Michael's efforts was not there. In her place was a stranger who apparently was having a bad day and who seemed to have a problem with Michael's disability.
She refused to let him handle the dogs or complete any watering tasks because she "wasn't sure he could handle it." She made him stay in the backroom, out of sight of "potential adopters because she didn't want to upset anyone." Other volunteers (who have worked with Michael asked him to help them but they were told that he was not allowed to assist.
We were very proud of Michael for not losing his cool (because we sure wanted to) and for sticking with his commitment in case they might need help with the dogs but all of us at White Dog Ranch are outraged at his treatment.
Quinn addressed the plan that he and White Dog and Dragon had concocted to storm the Center and let all of the dogs out creating havoc. Not a good idea, I suggested, because hopefully that lady was only there for yesterday and beside their plan would put the other pups in danger.
We humans are not sure how best to handle the situation, either. While it would be VERY easy to go through channels and make complaints and intervene, we also think that maybe it is important for Michael to realize that he will encounter mean narrow-minded little people throughout his life and that he must advocate for himself and not allow others to make him a victim.
White Dog growls in disagreement, "If we don't protect Michael, then his feeling are hurt and he didn't even do anything wrong...he was volunteering to help homeless dogs. for dog's sake!" A chorus of "That woman was WRONG!" and "She should be punished" rose up from the Ranchers.
Michael volunteers again on Friday, and has indicated that he is planning on going. So the question echoing around White Dog Ranch today is, "How do you fight bigotry?" Sometimes I think I prefer the easier ones like, "What's for Dinner?"