Sunday, December 06, 2009

Doggy December - Day 7 - Milly and the Moslems

No, that's not a new band, although it should be.

When we first arrived in Melbourne, I was aware that we had a very large Moslem population in our area due to the four large Housing Commission blocks that provided accommodation to a lot of refugee families and immigrants from the Horn of Africa.

What I wasn't aware of was how many of them appeared to be terrified of our dog Milly.

The high-school kids, all cool with their jangling mobile phones playing rap music, iPod earbuds permanently wedged in, punctuating every sentence with, 'Pharken right, man' and low-slung trousers would squeal and either jump into the gutter or cross the street to avoid our little orange dog.

One dropkick parent who thought he knew me, noticed the phenomenon and said, "I bet you feel safer around these African gangs now, right?"

My stare of contempt saw him lose his conspiratorial smile instantly and I've not bothered to seek him out for a chat at the main entrance of the school since.

Instead, after having a wee contretemps with the Schnauzer Woman, Milly and I decided to walk to the side gate and wait there instead for Sapphire after school. We both sit on the bluestone fence and greet any parents or kids who walk past us and soon realised that it was the key drop-off and pick-up point for many African families who lived on that side of the suburb.

For the first few months, the mothers would gather their younger ones against their skirts, clearly saying to them, "Keep away from that horrible dog", despite Milly's wagging tail and my friendly smile.

But when they walked out of the gate with their school-aged kids, a lot of them would look over at Milly and sometimes I'd hear them say in English, "Look at the cute dog," before being hustled away.

Later still, a few boys would shyly gather by Milly and ask me questions about her. Does she bite? Has she ever killed anyone? Would she scare off a burglar?

Then one day six year old Moaz sat beside me and asked different questions. Is she ever scared when there's lightning outside? What does she eat? Why does she lick all the time? And, "Can I pat her?"

Only one of their parents has tried to give Milly a pat, but these days my little orange dog has a crowd of young children around her, saying "Hello Milly" and stroking her coat, her ears, her chest and shyly touching the brush-like tip of her tail. The parents now smile at me, and greet me and one said, "Your dog. Is nice. My son talk about him all the time."

Who cares if they thought that Milly was a boy?

From Wikipedia:

The majority of both Sunni and Shi'a Muslim jurists consider dogs to be ritually unclean, though jurists from the Sunni Maliki school disagree. However, outside their ritual uncleanness, Islamic fatāwā, or rulings, enjoin that dogs be treated kindly or else be freed. Muhammad didn't like dogs according to Sunni tradition, and most practicing Muslims do not have dogs as pets. It is said that angels do not enter a house which contains a dog. Though dogs are not allowed for pets, they are allowed to be kept if used for work, such as guarding your house or farm, or when used for hunting purposes.
According to a generally unaccepted Sunni tradition attributed to Muhammad, black dogs are evil, or even devils, in animal form. This report reflects the pre-Islamic Arab mythology and the vast majority of Ulema (Muslim jurists) viewed it to be falsely attributed to Muhammad.
In a tradition found in the Sunni hadith book, al-Muwatta, Muhammad states that the company of dogs voids a portion of a Muslim’s good deeds.
The historian William Montgomery Watt states that Muhammad's kindness to animals was remarkable for the social context of his upbringing. He cites an instance of Muhammed posting sentries to ensure that a female dog with newborn puppies was not disturbed by his army traveling to Mecca in the year 630.


River said...

It's nice that the kids are now crowding around Milly and being allowed to by their parents. I'm sure in the beginning she (Milly) was sad to see so many kids and not be able to get to know them. The parents beginning to accept her is also great, although probably they will still never have a dog as pet. But in generations to come, maybe some of the kids grown up might.

Benjamin Solah said...

Sorry I haven't been commenting. I went AWOL for a month working on my novel.

This was a lovely story. And I didn't know the thing about Islam and dogs.

And glad you glared at that racist.

Rowe said...

I never knew that about the Islamic faith and dogs. I know Jesus said something about dogs that made me wonder if he liked them or not. But, for heavens sake, if God created everything, then he made dogs as well as sharks and crocodiles, mosquitoes and flies. Give me a dog before a fly or a mosquito any day.

Lorna Lilo said...

Pets are the greatest peace negotiators of all times.

JahTeh said...

I'm not sure but I think rabies infect dogs in these places so I would be uncertain about going near them. And in the war torn countries, they're starving so hunt in packs. It's an awful life for humans and animals so hopefully in peaceful Oz they'll come to see dogs are great.

Pam said...

Trust a little orange dog to bridge gaps of misunderstanding.Rome, as they say, wasn't built in a day. I found your Wikipedia information at the conclusion of your post fascinating. Your previous posts about Tess were so sad, but to live surrounded by love, as your Tess did, was a good thing, and you really had no choice.I had to do the same with my beloved big ginger cat who was terrorizing neighbouring cats, even harming kittens.He adored us however.We understand it's a terratorial thing but it doesn't make the emotional fall-out any easier does it,when the time comes.May Milly continue to bring joy and happiness to others.

Kath Lockett said...

River, Milly was puzzled at the lack of attention that she'd been so used to at the school gate in Adelaide, so it's doubly-great to see the 'fans' returning again.

A fair enough excuse Mr Solah. And I'll *always* glare at racists and maybe even do tougher things than that in future.

Hear hear, Rowe! A dog is merely a heart with a tongue - no sneaky agendas or fakery at all. Just affection, trust and friendship.

Lorna, you are a wise woman. Maybe all the world leaders should just have a joint playdate and bring their dogs along. Unless one accidentally humps another (dog, I mean)....

JahTeh, their reasons are indeed valid for being scared of dogs, so I feel quite chuffed that they've accepted Milly and are happy to let their children give her a pat every time they see her.

Thanks Pam. I still hear the crackle of the basket at night when Tess used to sleep in our room.

Helen said...

that's nice that they got a chance to ask questions and not be afriad anymore!

and I'm glad that this popst didn't make me cry... apparently my animal-movie-crying issue extends to reading about them too!

Baino said...

And I thought they were chick magnets! Interesting about the Islamic take on dogs though I didn't know that. At least they don't eat them!