November 29, 2012

What Color Are You?

author Giacomo Giammatteo and his dog Slick

Giacomo & Slick

What Color Are You?

It’s amazing in these enlightened times that I have to ask this question, but I do.

I don’t mean are you white, or black, or brown, or any shade in between? We all know that doesn’t matter. Right? …Right?

So let’s get to the real issue. What color are you—on the inside?

Color Chart

My wife and I have an animal sanctuary, and we devised a color chart. We started it with our animals as a game, but the more we joked with it, the more we realized it applied to people also. Our animals are lots of different colors: black, brown, white, gray, spotted, brindle, beige, tan, rusty, pink, chocolate, auburn…I don’t think we have any purple animals, but I wouldn’t bet against my wife finding one someday.

What Are Inside Colors?

I’ll give you an example.

Angel, our wild pig from hell, who is anything but an angel, we colored red. She’s black on the outside, but we determined she’s red because she gets angry a lot. When she gets angry she tosses other pigs around as if they were toys. Angel’s a big girl. That’s her below, biting the fence to tell me she’s hungry.

Sweet Pete

Slick & Louise

animals eating


wild boar


dinner at the sanctuary

Dinner Time


rat terrier in shades
















Petey, aka: “Sweet Pete” is also black—on the outside—but he is quite possibly the sweetest pig on the planet. And Slick was the sweetest animal of any kind I have ever seen. He loved everything. We colored Petey and Slick beige.

Shinobi, our old wise pig, we colored burgundy, the same as Joe, the old horse.

Dennis, our handsome, auburn-colored wild boar, is purple, because of his passion for almost everything. And because he insisted on being labeled purple.

Mollie, our tough-as-nails Boxer mix, is brown outside but another red one on the inside. And Biscotti, quite possibly the roughest dog, pound for pound that I’ve ever seen, we colored gray. I don’t know why we chose gray, but we did.

Briella, the giant brindle-colored Great Dane, is yellow. (Yes, she can sometimes be a little cowardly.)

Freckles, our little black & white Rat Terrier, we colored white. I decided to make her white, hoping that she would turn invisible, or that at the very least her incessant yapping would somehow come to an end.

Colors Are Dangerous

…they make perception go to hell in a hand basket. (We can discuss that saying at another time.) If a stranger were to walk onto the back property, and Angel, our 350-pound wild pig, attacked them, they might come to the conclusion that all pigs are mean and vicious. Or they might think that all black pigs are mean and vicious.

If a completely different stranger were to wander onto the front property and meet Petey, they might think that all black pigs are sweet and wonderful. Both of them would be wrong.

Just like they’d be wrong to assume all huge, thick-necked Boxer mixes are nasty and prone to bite, or that all Rat Terriers are incessant yappers. (Okay, let’s not use that one as an example)

Bottom Line

Mikki and I know all of our animals. All 46 of them. We know which ones are sweet and which ones might nip at you if they’re in a bad mood. We know which ones a stranger can approach with no worries and which ones they should be wary of. That’s not surprising because we know these animals, and we know their true colors. But every time a new animal comes to our sanctuary we have to give it time, wait and see what it’s like. Just like people.

So the next time you have an opinion of someone based on their color, why not get to know them first. Find out what color they are on the inside, before you make up your mind.

Ciao, and thanks for stopping by,




Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of Murder Takes Time, and A Bullet For Carlos. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 46 loving “friends.”

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6 Responses to “What Color Are You?”

  1. We never thought to assign ‘inside’ colors, but I know exactly what you mean. You can’t make blanket judgements. Each animal is an individual.

    This is why breed-specific legislation is ridiculous.

  2. Each animal and each person. The problem is too many people don’t realize that.

  3. Another entertaining post, Jim! Thanks for sharing the photos of your “extended family members”.

  4. Thanks, Dianne. Those pics are a few of our “family members.” some of the others wouldn’t cooperate.

  5. Jim,

    Great article, In a strange way I was lucky, I had a father for lack of a better word, who only saw color. So it made it easy for me to only see people.

    Funny as you get older you look back at something at the time seemed so bad and come to find out was a blessing.

    Wow I was way off on the total # of animals. You two are very special people to do what you guys do.

  6. There are so many things that are blessings in disguise. Thanks for dropping by, Tony.

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