With our moving back to Vermont this spring, Erin and I came to the hard decision that we needed to find a new home for our dog Leunig (LOO NIG). I placed an ad in the local online classifieds and learned just how much I label people.
Shortly after the ad was placed I received a text message from Pablo, who wanted to set up a time to come and meet Leunig. On seeing his name I began to worry that perhaps he was looking for a dog to use for dog fighting; had his name been Jack this would not have crossed my mind. Noah and I were playing in the front yard keeping an eye out for Pablo’s arrival. At one point a man in a truck drove down our street and I thought to myself, Well maybe Pablo is white and that’s him. He looked, as he drove by at 25 mph, to be an outdoorsy dog lover.
The man could have been the king of dog fighting for all I know, but white people don’t come with that label. That was exactly what I had done, I had labeled Pablo, on his name alone, as a lower class-citizen who was going to take terrible care of our dog. I was ashamed of myself.
Not enough, though, that when Pablo and his wife pulled up I did not judge them once again. They arrived in a Mustang, not looking very active or outdoorsy. He had cheap looking tattoos on his arms (I have highly visible tattoos on my arms). I immediately thought to myself, These are not the right people to take our dog. I bet they don’t hike, they don’t do the things we want someone to do with him. Can they afford him? I should mention that we have not taken Leunig hiking in a couple of years. He is lucky if he even gets a walk a week. We have not been good to him and he had become more depressed as a result of it.
Pablo is a quiet man and it quickly became clear that his wife was the one who really wanted a dog. She sat down on the ground with Leunig and began petting him. I was still trying to come up with a reason to tell them they could not take him, as she told us how they had had pit-bulls once but had given them up when they had kids even though they showed no sign of aggression. Now they were ready for a dog again. We talked for about thirty minutes. The entire time the woman sat on the ground with Leunig, who was happy for the attention. By the end, it was clear, this was a caring loving family who would take good care of Leunig. They were ready to take him home right then but neither Erin nor I could bear that so we settled on them coming back in a couple of days.
The day came and Pablo arrived. He waited outside for us to say our goodbyes. He said we could call for updates or they would bring him by if we wanted to see him. Then before he turned and left he looked me in the eye and said, “We will take good care of him.”
My parents taught me that everyone is equal. Somewhere along the line though I lost the ability not to label people. I can think of a host of reasons why this is, but I can only point the finger at myself and shoulder the blame. It is certainly not in line with our Christian beliefs and it’s not the way we want to raise our boys. To drive this point home, the day after Leunig was adopted we stood in front of our congregation and dedicated the boys, pledging to raise them in a way that honors our Lord.