“Monsieur Le Chauffer, I have a question for you”, says my newly “re-homed” black standard French Poodle the other day.
We are driving to a dog park and the radio has just finished a story on the rise of White Supremacy around the world. He’s spread across the entire back seat. He likes to lounge.
“Sure, Bud!” I say. I rarely get a question from him. Even though he’s only a year old, he has the ego of a much older dog and prefers to answer questions, rather than ask them – in French, English or Bark!
Today, it’s English, which is fortunate for me. I don’t speak Bark! and my French is old school – as in dusty high school French.
About two months ago, when I first got him, I noticed a small white spot at the front of each of his ears, as though he was wearing “Earbuds”. So I named him “Ear Bud”. Clever, huh?… (OK, not so clever. He told me it was “tres stupid! I’m French! Not common!”)
The next day my neighbor saw us walking. “What a beautiful French poodle!!” she said. She gave him a big hug and rubbed his ears. “You are so-o-o-cute!” He reveled in the attention. (Me? I’m just a necessity at the end of the leash.)
We get to the dog park. As I look for a spot for the car, he asks again, “What’s a White Supremacist?”
(I feel like saying it is a white person who believes in the superiority of the white race, kind of like a certain French Poodle who believes in his own superiority. But I am nothing if not gracious.)
“It’s a white person who believes in the superiority of the white race”, I say, and then turn directly to him, “kind of like a certain French Poodle who believes he is superior to humans.” (Hey, I don’t get many chances, you know.)
“I will ignore that puerile little comment,” he says, as I leash him up. “Really. What makes white people superior? You are white and you are certainly not superior. In fact…”
(What? What! How does he do that so effortlessly?)
I sigh. “Well, it’s kind of convoluted. But the idea is that white people are smarter, win more wars, and are more successful than, say Africans, or Asians, or Middle Easterners, and others. So some white people ignore the thousands of years of other cultures’ successes and think their current success is strictly due to the color of their skin. They think they’re superior because they’re white”.
We get out of the car. The other dogs see us and start barking.
“Oh, so you’re saying non-whites are stupid, weak, and losers ?”
“Well, no. I didn’t say —“
“—But you just did.”
“No, it’s what the White Suprem—“
—Suddenly the leash almost pops out of my hand as he yanks me toward to the gate. I open it and unleash him. There’s more barking as he bolts to his friends. I see my friend Stephanie who has just gotten back from France. I join her.
“He hates the name “Bud”, I tell her.
“Yeah, well, he’s pretty smart, alright.” (Hey!…)
We watch as Bud plays with a Shelty. Shelties are herding dogs. Although he’s far bigger, the Shelty runs circles around Bud, nipping his heels until he moves where the Shelty aims him.
“Why don’t you give him a French name?”
Bud does the one thing that only Poodles do. Using one of his huge paws like a hand, he plops the Shelty to the ground. Then, he runs off, this time after a Yorkshire Terrier, who darts under a bench. Bud tries to wriggle under the bench, but is too big. All we see is his big rear with its wagging tail.
“You could call him Mon Ami.” When she says it, it sounds musical and sophisticated.
“Hey! Monna…Animini…ini !” I shout to him. She laughs. “Or you can stick with Bud. We’re not in France.”
All three dogs now run after a greyhound, who does what all greyhounds do, leaves them in the dust.
Bud comes over and stares at me, breathing hard. “C’est la vie” (such is life). Sometimes even French Poodles aren’t best at everything.” Stephanie wraps her arms around him. “He is so-o-o- cute, isn’t he!” He looks smugly at me, “But we are best often enough, as you can see.”
And, over his shoulder, as he runs back to the other dogs, “Especially black French poodles. We may not be superior to other dogs all the time, but to certain individuals, we are definitely superior – bien sur!” (for sure!)
That does it. The name is Bud.