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Sunday, April 6, 2014

If you brought a golden retriever over to the middle east, the war would stop.

My title seems deceiving, however I have a point.  This is a bit after the fact, but I needed time to cool down a bit.  I was dog sitting in a highrise for a golden retriever for 8 days.  That consisted of 3-4 walks a day on top of sleeping there.  That means that I was on and off the elevator and in the lobby a minimum of 24 times (much too early to do the math).  Over the past year, there has been a huge influx of people from the Middle East that have moved into this building.  In their culture, dogs are not respected or treated as pets.  During those 24 times, I learned how much people from the middle east fear dogs.  Well, I use the word fear but it could also be loathe.  They are considered "unclean".  Here is an article discussing such disdain if you are interested in reading it:

By: Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl

Islamic discourses on the nature, and function of dogs are representative of a range of tensions regarding the roles of history, mythology, rationality, and modernity in Islam. In fact, the debates surrounding the avowed impurity of dogs, and the lawfulness of possessing or living with these animals were one of the main issues symbolizing the challenging dynamic between the revealed religious law, and the state of creation or nature. In addition, certain aspects of these debates pertained to the power dynamics of patriarchy, and more generally, the construction of social attitudes towards marginal elements in society.

In a fashion similar to European medieval folklore, black dogs, in particular, were viewed ominously in the Islamic tradition.[1] According to one tradition attributed to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form.[2] Although this report did reflect a part of pre-Islamic Arab mythology, it had a limited impact upon Islamic law. The vast majority of Muslim jurists considered this particular tradition to be falsely attributed to the Prophet, and therefore, apocryphal. Nevertheless, much of the Islamic discourse focused on a Prophetic report instructing that if a dog, regardless of the color, licks a container, the container must be washed seven times, with the sprinkling of dust[3] in one of the washings. Different versions of the same report specify that the container be washed once, three, or five times, or omit the reference to the sprinkling of dust. The essential point conveyed in these reports is that dogs are impure animals, or, at least, that their saliva is a contaminant that voids a Muslim’s ritual purity. Hostility to dogs, not just as a source of physical but moral impurity, are further expressed in Prophetic reports claiming that angels, as God’s agents of mercy and absolution, will not enter a home that has a dog,[4] or that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds.[5] Cultural biases against dogs as a source of moral danger reach an extreme point in reports that claim that Prophet commanded Muslims not trade or deal in dogs,[6] and even to slaughter all dogs, except for those used in herding, farming, or hunting.[7]

These various anti-dogs reports expressed culturally engrained social anxieties about aspects of nature that were seen as threatening or unpredictable. In addition, discourses on dogs played a symbolic role in the attempts of pre-modern societies to explore the boundaries that differentiated human beings from animals. In that sense, the debates about dogs acted as a forum for negotiating not just the nature of dogs but also the nature of human beings. This is most apparent in traditions that create a symbolic nexus between marginalized elements in society, such as non-Muslims or women, and dogs. In some such traditions, it is claimed that the Prophet said that dogs, donkeys, women, and in some versions non-Muslims, if they pass in front of men in prayer, they will void or nullify that prayer.[8] Interestingly, early Muslim authorities, such as the Prophet’s wife Aisha, strongly protested this symbolic association between dogs and women because of its demeaning implications for women. As a result, most Muslim jurists ruled that this tradition is not authentic, and that the crossing of women in front of men does not negate their prayers.[9]

Despite the attribution to the Prophet of a large number of traditions hostile to dogs, for a variety of reasons, many pre-modern Muslim scholars challenged this orientation. The Qur’an, the divine book of Islam, does not condemn dogs as impure or evil. In addition, a large number of early reports, probably reflecting historical practice, contradicted the dog-hostile traditions. For instance, several reports indicated that the Prophet’s young cousins, and some of the companions owned puppies.[10] Other reports indicated that the Prophet prayed while a dog played in the vicinity.[11] In addition, there is considerable historical evidence that dogs roamed freely in Medina and even entered the Prophet’s mosque.[12] A particularly interesting tradition attributed to the Prophet asserted that a prostitute, and in some versions, a sinning man, secured their places in Heaven by saving the life of a dog dying of thirst in the desert.[13]

Most jurists rejected the traditions mandating the killing of dogs as fabrications because, they reasoned, such behavior would be wasteful of life. These jurists argued that there is a presumption prohibiting the destruction of nature, and mandating the honoring of all creation. Any part of creation or nature cannot be needlessly destroyed, and no life can be taken without compelling cause.[14] For the vast majority of jurists, since the consumption of dogs was strictly prohibited in Islam, there was no reason to slaughter dogs. Aside from the issue of killing dogs, Muslim jurists disagreed on the permissibility of owning dogs. A large number of jurists allowed the ownership of dogs for the purpose of serving human needs, such as herding, farming, hunting, or protection. They also prohibited the ownership of dogs for frivolous reasons, such as enjoying their appearance or out a desire to show off.[15] Some scholars rationalized this determination by arguing that dogs endanger the safety of neighbors and travelers.[16] For the majority of jurists, however, the pertinent issue was not whether it was lawful to own dogs, but the avowed impurity of dogs. The majority contended that the pivotal issue is whether the bodies and saliva of dogs are pure or not. If dogs are in fact impure then they cannot be owned unless there is a serious need for doing so.[17]

As to the issue of purity, the main point of contention was as to whether there is a rational basis for the command to wash a container if touched or licked by a dog.[18] The majority of jurists held that there is no rational basis for this command, and that dogs, like pigs, must be considered impure simply as a matter of deference to the religious text. A sizeable number of jurists, however, disagreed with this position. Jurists, particularly from the Maliki school of thought, argued that everything found in nature is presumed to be pure unless proven otherwise, either through experience or text.[19] Ruling that the traditions mentioned above are not of sufficient reliability or authenticity so as to overcome the presumption of purity, they argued that dogs are pure animals. Accordingly, they maintained that dogs do not void a Muslim’s prayer or ritual purity.[20] Other jurists argued that the command mandating that a vessel be washed a number of times was intended as a precautionary health measure. These jurists argued that the Prophet’s tradition on this issue was intended to apply only to dogs at risk of being infected by the rabies virus. Hence, if a dog is not a possible carrier of rabies, it is presumed to be pure.[21] A small number of jurists carried this logic further in arguing that rural dogs are pure, while urban dogs are impure because urban dogs often consume human garbage.[22] Another group of jurists argued that the purity of dogs turn on their domesticity—domestic dogs are considered pure because human beings feed and clean them, while dogs that live in the wild or on the streets of a city could be carriers of disease, and therefore, they are considered impure.[23] It is clear from the evolution of these discourses that as nature became more susceptible to rational understanding, complex and potentially dangerous creatures, such as dogs, became less threatening for Muslim jurists.

Aside from the legal discourses, dogs occupied an elusive position in Muslim culture. On the one hand, in Arabic literature dogs were often portrayed as a symbol of highly esteemed virtues such as self-sacrifice and loyalty. For example, Ibn Al-Marzuban wrote a fascinating treatise titled, The Book of the Superiority of Dogs Over Many of Those Who Wear Clothes, which contrasts the loyalty and faithfulness of dogs to the treachery and fickleness of human beings. Dogs were also widely used for protection, sheep herding, and hunting. On the other hand, dogs were often portrayed as an oppressive instrument in the hands of despotic and unjust rulers. Similar to the medieval European practice, in the pre-modern Middle East region, as an expression of contempt or deprecation, at times dogs were hung or buried with the corpses of dissidents or rebels.[24] Furthermore, in popular culture, unlike cats, dogs were considered filthy or impure animals that ought not share the living space of the pious or religiously observant. This cultural anti-dog prejudice survived into modern times, and as a result, the ownership of dogs continues to be socially frowned upon. In the contemporary Muslim world, dog ownership is common only among Bedouins, law enforcement, and the Westernized higher classes. As a matter of fact, it is rather striking that, to a very large extent, modern Muslims are unaware of the pre-modern juristic determinations that vindicated the purity of dogs. Nevertheless, this in itself is a measure of the ambiguous fortunes of the dynamics between Islamic law and nature in modernity. In the pre-modern age, Islamic law evolved in near proportion to the advances achieved in the human knowledge of nature. But as the institutions of Islamic law were deconstructed by European Colonialism, and with the rise of puritanical movements in contemporary Islam, Islamic jurisprudence has ceased to be a forum for creative thinking or dynamic interactions with the vastness of nature.

Even if you just skimmed it ,you get the picture.  Dogs are the enemy basically.  What baffles me is that these haters of dogs move into a dog friendly building and then either look at you with disgust in their face when you walk by with a dog or cower in fear OR slam themselves up against a wall when you get off the elevator and try to play a disappearing act.  It is not only stressful for me and the dog, but stressful for them!  I was refused entry on an elevator while standing with another lady and her dog by a man who just put his hands up and started yelling, "No! NO, no no no!" I had to deal with this on every walk and it got to a point where I snapped on 2 young guys at the front desk.  I can fully appreciate different cultures and what they accept as normal, but I say it once again.  YOU MOVED INTO A DOG FRIENDLY BUILDING! If you hate animals, then move into a building that doesn't allow animals!  I may not understand it, but I accept it.  The overly friendly golden retriever that I was taking care of did not understand it and seemed a bit put off.  The most heartwarming part of my stay was on the last day.  We were headed out for out afternoon walk when in the long hall we passed 2 girlfriends that obviously hadn't seen eachother in ages.  They ran to eachother and they were hugging and talking and just bound together in joyful embrace.  The dog literally stopped next to them and wouldn't move until they acknowledged him.  (awkward for me)  They were so happy they both hugged him and he just joined in with their rejoicing!  I got teary, I'm not gonna lie.  At that moment, I thought to myself, "This is the dog that people have feared for the past 8 days?  The dog that just wants to hug strangers who are so happy?"  It's a mad world...

Monday, March 31, 2014

Loose Dogs and Lost Mind

Today was one for the books!  Well, quite literally since I am blogging about it.  It started off very strange with some odd personal things that happened while out with a certain someone.  I will not say who or what, but I will say that certain events were VERY out of the ordinary.    

The first dog that I went to walk was a semi regular newish client. The dog is a total sweetie pie, but recently the owner and I had been texting about his behavior at daycare.  It seems that he was so high energy that he was getting aggressive with other dogs when they had had enough and he still wanted to play.  I hadn't seen him since this incident and didn't think anything of it. 

It was business as usual.  I got big hugs and smiles from his velvety face and we headed over to the park.  He did his business pretty quickly and then we just kept going around the grassy areas.  He met some construction guys, other dogs, squirrels, and then found the sticks.  He got SUPER excited with the sticks! There were zoomies and tossing of said sticks, and then he started to bite my ankles and my legs.  At first it was a small nip, and then he started chomping!  I thought he broke skin (he didn't) but I do have quite a bruised lump on my ankle.  I got him to stop and we kept on going.  We ran into a corgi who wanted to say hello so they played while on the leash for a bit.  Then he jerked and grabbed the plastic part of his retractable leash and took off with the leash in his mouth! He is big on me chasing him in his apartment, so I knew that he just thought this was a game.  No matter what I did, he would not listen or come to me.  It literally got to the point where I threw my bag down and starting chasing him.  I had the guy with the corgi, a walker with a pug, a lady with 2 shih tzus, and a lady with a min pin all helping me try to get him back.  My stomach was in my throat, thank God he stayed within the park.  It took about 15 minutes for all of us to get him to stand still for a minute.  I am so grateful for the help of these people, you have no idea!

When we FINALLY got him back, I stood and chatted with the other walker that was there for a little bit.  He started jumping up and biting me again!  I got frustrated and took him back in.  Poor thing had no idea he did anything wrong.  His problem seems to be that he has a trigger that overstimulates him in the blink of an eye and he doesn't know what to do with all of his energy!  It ends up in him getting aggressive.  He doesn't bark or growl or act angry at all - I was not in fear for my limbs being ripped off, but he does get very bitey.  He thinks it's a game.  We are all going to work with a trainer next week and try to get this kid on track, but this was not the way I wanted to start my list of dog walks.  He must earn my trust back.

Face of an angel - teeth of a beaver :)

He is my buddy, and I do love him - we just have work to do

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Half of the cat owners out there will say, "My cat is JUST like a dog!"  or  "He so thinks he's a dog!"   I have been guilty of saying that some of my cats are dog like, but these 2 cats that I watch are literally exhibiting K9 behavior.

The first time I met this client, she told me that she had clicker trained the cats to perform tricks.  I had to see this.  She clicker trained them (which is normally a dog thing) to come, sit, stand, and hit a particular point. She explained that she was really a dog person that ended up with cats.

One of the cats has a heart murmur and is on medication.  When he first started, he took his pill in a ball of crumbled goat cheese.  Makes sense, right? A cat, cheese...  an enjoyable treat.  After a while, she left me a note saying that he takes his pills in peanut butter.  This is notoriously a dog thing.  You put anything in peanut butter and a dog will eat it.  I have never seen a cat go nuts for peanut butter like this!!!  He adores it, runs to the fridge when I go to take the jar out, and paws at me until he gets his pill.

As if this wasn't enough, this past stint of sitting, these cats learned how to open the upper cabinet in the kitchen.
They took out 2 peanut granola bars, ate 1 whole bar and half of another.  They seem to have promptly vomited up the bar as well, but they tried this on a daily basis.  I had to put the granola bars in the fridge and hope that they didn't figure out how to open that door!

Moral of the story:  If your cat loves peanut butter and tries to steal granola bars, you are worthy of saying that your cat is just like a dog.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


There is a dog that I walk on occasion, mainly as a fill in when her normal walker can't come.  She is a pittie who is as sweet as can be to some people, but hates others.  She is perfect with me and her main walker, but with new folks she can be wary.

She has a long list of "dislikes" including:
Most other dogs
Men with long hair
Men with long hair that smell like cigarettes
The homeless
Most black people (yes, dogs can be racist too)
The elderly, especially if they have a cane or a walker and they are headed to physical therapy
Bikes/skateboards/shopping carts (basically anything loud and on wheels)
She does love the ladies though!  She has met female clients of mine on the street and she does her body wag and leans and kisses.  She is wonderful, just a little quirky :) Recently she had a foot injury and her left front foot has to be wrapped up.  This is the first time I have seen her since this happened, and I came into the house to see this.
A giant e-collar, a wrapped foot, and a sad pout.  Because of all the snow and ice, her foot needs to be EXTRA wrapped for walks.  It must remain dry at all times.  Picture this.  I'm sitting on the floor trying to put a rubber glove, a dog shoe, and a plastic IV bag on her foot, all while reaching around the e-collar with her licking my face the whole time.  It took longer than expected. :)

We went out for a walk and she just wanted to eat snow!  Silly

While we were out, we encountered 2 of her pet peeves at the exact same time!  The mailman and a dog that ran out of his house.  They were on either side of us and she went a little nutty!  Of course in the midst of slush, the foot, etc... Ugh...

Monday, March 3, 2014


I am obsessed with me new Great Dane clients.  They are truly amazing. Truly truly truly amazing. (had to throw that in)  They are male and female and they love to hug!

They like to sit on the couch (and my lap)

Yes, they sit on the couch like people and I'm obsessed with that!  They listen so well, I just can't say enough .  I have known quite a few great danes in my years at the vet and they have all been a little unpredictable. They have certainly had their sweet moments, but I have never seen 2 like these.  Good breeding?  Good parenting? Both?  The only downside (and it's not really down) is that Leroy (the black and white boy) doesn't know how to handle his big body and long legs so when he jumps up to hug you, he usually ends up punching you in the face on his first try.  LExi the girl has learned to climb up your torso to give hugs.  She is a princess and not nearly as "flailing" as her rough and tumble brother.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Asshole Neighbors

I'm cat sitting for a client/friend that lives around the corner from me.  I went over to do my cat stuff tonight, and come in to a note on the door from her upstairs neighbor. This is what it said:

"Please clean cat up. Hall way smells terrible. tx    I sent (insert clients name) a note to update as well "

I didn't smell a thing when I came in the front door.  Just the normal hallway smell.
So I'm thinking the litterbox is crazy full - that they had some massive pooping party earlier...  I run over to the litterbox and I find a normal amount of dirtiness for 24 hours

So I think, wow, this guy is an ass.  I clean, I feed, I pet, and I leave.  He comes chasing me out, yelling down the street, "Hey! Are you watching the cats???"  I said yes, and he goes, "What was that smell??!"  I told him that I didn't smell anything at all and that I am cleaning the boxes every day.  He then asks if the litter was still inside, and I said yes, but bagged up.  He said, "Well can you take it outside?"  Um... no? I already locked everything up and have been working for 12 hours.  I have watched these cats dozens of times, I did nothing differently this time.  I told him that tomorrow was trash day, I was planning on taking it out then and that I was not opening up her back door (nor do I ever) because I don't want the cats to try to run out.  He looked disappointed, and wanted to make sure I did it tomorrow.  I will leave this my saying that this man has a dog, a baby, and a toddler.  He can't deal with waiting a day for me to take the dirty bag of litter out??
And such a shithead, passive aggressive note!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pug Puppy!

Before Christmas, I had a new client meeting.  I was told it was for 2 cats, but when I got there, there was a tiny pug that greeted me at the door!  He was going with his parents :(  Boo, he was such a sweetie.  Don't get me wrong, I love the cats  

But there are few things cuter than a pug puppy.  I got a last minute request to let him out this week and of course I went!  When I got there, I couldn't find him.  I knew he was crated, but I didn't see the crate and had no idea where he was.  He wasn't making a peep as I scoured the apartment for nearly 10 min.  Finally I looked down and saw this.

Found him!! But you see how a sleeping puppy in a covered crate could be overlooked.  This kid is nothing but kisses and fun.  We had a ball that afternoon!