Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dogging Fun

I go for a run in the park. A man stops me and asks for my help. It is important for the clarity of this story to point out that this man is (a) on crutches and (b) black. I would not normally point such things out being (a) not disablist and (b) not Ron Atkinson, but these facts are pertinent.

He says, “My dog has run off and I can't run after him. Will you fetch him please?”

He points to a large black dog that is already barely a speck on the other side of the football pitch. I don’t want to run after the dog. I am knackered and still have scars on my leg from where a dog bit me when I was 12.

“He doesn’t bite”, says the man, playing the best card that he has. I sigh, then pretend that it is because I am out of breath.

“What is your dog’s name?” I ask, remembering that dogs often come when called.

“Blackie.”

Blackie?

“Blackie.”

I run off after the dog. I do not want to shout "Oi, Blackie! Come here!" across the park in case a man of African or Afro-Caribbean descent thinks that I am picking a fight with him. I am not good at fighting. So I decide that I will just run after the dog and not call its name.

Whilst I am running I try to think of a set of circumstances that would lead to a black man owning a dog called Blackie. Perhaps he is reclaiming the word, like young African-Americans did in bands such as Niggaz With Attitude. But the man is middle-aged and this is leafy North-West London, not South Central LA.

I nearly catch up with the dog. The dog runs off again.

I decide that perhaps the dog was once owned by a white friend of his who, tired of being beaten up every time he called his dog in the park, gave the dog to his black friend. Perhaps this man only had one black friend and gave it to him by default, despite his obvious unsuitability for taking animals for walks. I am pleased with this explanation.

I nearly catch up with the dog. The dog runs off again.

As I chase after it I wonder, like I wonder about three times a week on average, if I am being filmed by hidden cameras. It would be a hilarious idea for a show. Even if the victim was too embarrassed to shout “Oi, Blackie!” in the most racially diverse area of the country you would still have some great footage of an out-of-breath man failing to catch a dog. That is always funny.

I nearly catch up with the dog. The dog runs off again.

This is actually quite good exercise. I usually find running dull, but I have probably done my entire distance by now without getting bored. Perhaps I should find a black person who is having problems walking their West Highland Terrier, Honky, and offer to chase it round the park for them on a regular basis.

Eventually, the dog tires of this game. I catch him and gasp “Stay”. He sits obediently, looking up at me. Perhaps I remind him of his old master. Then I remember that, unlike humans, dogs are colour-blind.

The dog’s owner hobbles over and thanks me. The hidden cameras remain hidden.