Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Animal Planet

When I first moved to Odessa the thing that struck me almost immediately was the number of stray dogs.  We arrived by train and there was like 6 dogs just chilling at the station. Went for a walk in the evening and there was a literal pack of stray dogs wandering the boulevard. For me it was a bit of a shock as I am not a dog lover at the best of times but having a dozen scraggly strays barking at you is not pleasant.  I was also surprised at the debate which ranged over the strays, not how best to solve the problem of packs of wild dogs roaming the streets but whether or not it truly was a problem. I couldn't understand this and I was dumbfounded that anyone could look at mad mangy mongrels loping around as a positive then I would see sweet little old ladies patiently tossing scraps of meat and bits of bread to these mutts.  My students couldn't understand my disbelief ; for the most part they were standing in solidarity with the pooches, apparently these dogs were public pets, an artifact of the communist period perhaps where everyone shared in everything.

Saudi Arabia is quite the opposite. The dog is little loved here; it is commonly known that the pig is haraam (prohibited by the word of God) as apparently Porky is inherently dirty.  While the dog is not officially on the list as sinful it is looked at by many as being a rather filthy little beast.  This means no mutts roaming the streets as well as no dogs on leashes with owners trailing behind carrying their mess. In general there is a lack of animals here very occasionally I will see a stray cat rooting around in the garbage but, the cats are not normal alley cats they are small with very little fur. No squirrels or any other rodents to speak of either.  It was 4 weeks before I saw a bird. I guess the heat and lack of water keeps them away but it is a little disconcerting to be living in a place where nature dare not enter.  

1 comment:

  1. Turkey also has public pets. The benefit to the people is they never have to pay the enormous health costs associated with actually owning one's own pet.

    The drawbacks to people are mangy mutts, cats in heat howling outside your window at all hours, and no one feels responsible for cleaning up the poop. The city pays people to do it.

    The difference between private and public pets at first glance is the energy. Private pets always seem raring to get out and run (they probably don't get to often enough). Public pets always seem exhausted to me. It also isn't pretty when a public pet gets injured and no one fixes his injury.