Two lost souls coming together isn’t exactly a new movie theme, but it still works, especially when it has a twist like this one.
“A Stray” is about a young man whose refugee family fled Somalia and relocated in Minneapolis. He becomes sort of a double stray when his family kicks him out after he gets in some trouble.
At a mosque, Adan finds shelter. He gets a job, delivering food, and seems to be pulling his life together when his delivery vehicle strikes a dog.
Adan, at the urging of a bystander, hesitantly loads the small white mutt in the car and takes him to a vet, who pronounces the dog OK. It is then that Adan learns he must take the dog with him.
That’s a problem because, on top of being homeless, Adan is Muslim. Under Muslim law, dogs are considered dirty. Many practicing Muslims, like Adan’s family, forbid them in the home. When he arrives back at the mosque with the dog, he’s told to leave.
What happens next — when a man raised to have nothing to do with dogs ends up with a stray, when his God and his Dog are seemingly irreconcilable forces — makes for a thought-provoking and magical movie.
It premiered earlier this year at the South By Southwest (SXWS) Film Festival, and had several screenings last weekend, introduced by writer-director Musa Syeed, at the Film Society of Minneapolis and St Paul.
The human star of the movie is actor Barkhad Abdirahman, a Somali refugee who lives in Minneapolis.
Director Syeed, in an interview with Minnesota Public Radio, said he was intrigued by the idea of combining the archetypal American/Western man-and-dog story with Muslim sensitivities towards dogs.
“What was interesting to me about a Muslim kid and a dog was that these are two entities that seemingly are not able to reconcile, or that are so different,” he said. “And I think that’s the way that maybe a lot of people see, you know, Muslims in America … there is some inherent tension or something like that.”
He said he hopes that the story of a man and his forbidden dog shows that there is room for compassion, understanding and a connection.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 21st, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: a stray, america, animals, barkhad abdirahman, bonding, clashing, cultures, dirty, dog, dogs, forbidden, god, homeless, islam, lost souls, minneapolis, mosque, movie, musa syeed, muslims, pets, refugee, religion, somali, somalia, stray dogs, strays
When her mother found eight babies too much to handle, a cheetah named Adaeze was cut off — both from her mother’s milk and from being able to bond with her siblings.
Adaeze and two of her male siblings had to be nursed by the staff at the LEO Zoological Conservation Center in Greenwich, Conn. Between the hand feeding and having a brother to bond with, the two young males thrived.
But Adaeze remained something of a social outcast.
Then, about seven weeks after her birth, she met Odie, an overweight Australian shepherd.
“They just, for whatever reason, gravitated toward each other,” said Marcella Leone, founder of the center. “If the dog is with her then she’s just relaxed. He helps her take in change better than a wild animal is programmed to do.”
The center is a nonprofit, off-exhibit, accredited breeding reserve for rare and endangered animals.
Odie, who is neither rare nor endangered, is the pet of Leone’s husband.
Odie and Adaeze spend their days together, and sleep together. They are separated only at mealtime, and as soon as they are done eating they wait, nose-to-nose on opposite sides of a door, to be reunited.
It’s not the first time a dog has been used to chill out cheetahs.
The San Diego Zoo has been pairing dogs and cheetahs for about 40 years. Dogs help the cheetahs remain calm and better respond to each other, boosting the cheetah reproduction rate at the zoo.
Leone was hoping a dog would do that and more for Adaeze.
Leone told ABC News that she first tried pairing the cheetah with a younger dog that was very calm.
She had Odie fill in one day though, and he — despite his rambunctiousness — proved to be a better pairing.
“They roughhouse and play nonstop. They’re just best friends who love each other,” Leone said.
Adaeze is not domesticated, but a tame wild animal who has been trained to appear at wildlife conservation presentations — mainly about the plight the cheetah, an endangered animal, Greenwich Time reported.
Adaeze, with help from Odie, has become so calm and comfortable with crowds that has been selected out of the 18 cheetahs that live at the 100-acre LEO center to be its ambassador animal.
In coming months, the two companions will be attending a fundraiser for the Cheetah Conservation Fund in New York City, and presenting at the American Museum of Natural History and the Explorers Club.
Leone said at such presentation Odie will rarely sit when asked, but Adaeze always will.
“Odie is full of energy but is somehow this calming force for Adaeze,” she said.
(Photo: Leone, Adaeze and Odie, courtesy of LEO Zoological Conservation Center)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 21st, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adaeze, animals, australian shepherd, bond, bonding, breeding, cheetah, cheetah and dog, connecticut, dog, dog and cheetah, dogs, endangered species, family, friendship, greenwich, interspecies, leo, marcella leone, odie, pets, zoological conservation center
In a big, impersonal, sometimes mean and generally hurried city, it’s nice to see creatures — especially those of different species — taking the time to get to know each other.
Maybe that (as opposed to it being a slow news day) is why Gothamist seems to be making a Labor Day tradition of presenting videos of dogs bonding with horses, police horses in particular.
This year’s “report” — and I use that term loosely — expands on the collection of videos the website presented about this same time last year — all featuring tender, or at least inquisitive moments between city dogs and police horses.
Perhaps best enjoyed without commentary, the 11 videos show dog-and-horse bonding, sniffing, and or licking — though not all were from the streets of New York. To see them all, go here.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 8th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, bonding, canine, dog, dogs, equine, horse, horses, interspecies, mounted, new york city, New York City police, officers, pets, police, police horses, relationships, videos
If you’re going to be a stray dog, you might want to be one in Oak Brook, Ill.
It’s one of Chicago’s wealthiest suburbs — the kind of place with well-manicured lawns to pee on, porches and gazebos offering some shade, and handouts from humans that might include pork tenderloin, or steak.
At least that was Rusty’s experience.
For four years, Rusty roamed the Forest Glen neighborhood of Oak Brook, keeping a certain distance from its residents, but happily accepting their offers of food.
“I would leave pieces of steak and pork tenderloin at the end of the driveway,” said one Forest Glen resident.
“We thought we were the only people taking care of him,” said another, who fed him steak and bacon.
Harry Peters, president of the Forest Glen Homeowners Association, said Rusty, a chow-sheltie mix, eventually developed some discriminating tastes: “I put a hot dog out there once — I’ll never forget it — and he lifted his leg and peed on it. My neighbor was giving him steak.”
Despite all the handouts, Rusty kept his distance. He’d play with neighborhood dogs, but avoided getting too close to humans. When residents walked their dogs, Rusty would follow behind — again at a distance.
While residents were enjoying his presence, and fattening him up, many of them worried about how he was able to survive the harsh winters, and able to avoid becoming a victim of street traffic.
For four years, any attempts to catch him were in vain, up until 2010 when he was captured in a back yard and turned over to the Hinsdale Humane Society.
There he was treated for a heartworm infestation, and thousands of dollars were donated to help pay for his care. Attempts were made to make him more sociable with humans, so that he could be adopted out to one of the many expressing interest in doing so.
But Rusty, who maintained a preference for living outside, never reached that point, shelter officials told the Chicago Tribune.
Instead he was sent to Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, where he’d have room to roam.
Before taking him to Utah, Jennifer Vlazny, operations manager for the humane society, brought Rusty back to the neighborhood he once roamed for one last visit. Residents petted him and photographed him, and some cried when he left.
After some time at Best Friends, Rusty was adopted by a Kanab resident, Kristine Kowal, a retired school nurse who once lived in the Chicago area.
Kowal made a Facebook page and posted regular updates on it about Rusty, by then renamed Rusty Redd.
Peters, the neighborhood association president, visited Rusty and Kowal in January, while on a business trip to Las Vegas. He mentioned to Kowal then that, if she was to ever come to Chicago for a visit, he’d arrange a gathering so residents could have a reunion with the dog.
That happened this past weekend.
Kowal drove Rusty 1,800 miles from Utah for the reunion.
“I just thought it was something that I needed to do — to take him back, and kind of make it a full circle,” Kowal said.
Residents gathered Sunday in a gazebo in the Forest Glen subdivision, where they were able to pet him, many for the first time.
Vlazny, the Tribune reported, was amazed at his transformation from feral dog to pet.
Rusty seemed to remember the old neighborhood, and residents — even some who had since moved out of state — came to the reunion to see an old friend.
“The closest Rusty would ever get to me was 40 feet,” said Frank Manas, feeding the dog a chunk of mozzarella cheese. His family had moved from Forest Glen to Wisconsin, but returned Sunday to see Rusty.
“We said, if Rusty can come all the way from Utah, we can come from Eau Claire,” said Julie Manas, his wife.
“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh — I’m petting him!” said Julie Gleason, who used to feed Rusty when he visited the nearby office park where she works.
“It’s a real-life fairy tale.”
(Photo: Julie Gleason weeps as she pets Rusty; by Stacey Wescott / Chicago Tribune)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 20th, 2015 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, best friends animal society, bond, bonding, chicago, chow, dog, dogs, food, forest glen, handouts, hinsdale humane society, illinois, kindness, mix, mutt, mutts, neighborhood, oak brook, pets, reunion, rusty, rusty redd, sheltie, steak, stray dog, strays
From Washington’s Olympic Peninsula comes the story of Harley — a Chihuahua found on the side of a logging road with his throat slit.
The dog, bearing a four-inch gash on his tiny throat, was found Feb. 2, bleeding on the side of a road west of Port Angeles by Monte Mogi, a 75-year-old, Harley Davidson-riding, retired Air Force master sergeant.
Mogi took the dog to veterinarian Dr. Charles Schramm of Port Angeles, who threaded tight a 4-inch open slice across the center of the dog’s throat, according to the Peninsula Daily News
The cut appeared to be intentional. By slitting the dog’s throat, “maybe they thought they were euthanizing it,” said Schramm, adding that he’d never seen a similar injury.
Mogi paid the dog’s $464 veterinary bill, then called his daughter, a veterinary technician, and she drove the dog — dubbed Harley by then — back to his house. Already having eight dogs on his property, Mogi called Nancy Woods, who had cared for Mogi’s wife before her death.
Nancy and her husband Herb, though they’d sworn off dogs after their last one died, offered to take in Harley — even though he appeared traumatized and was terrified of children.
Once Harley recuperated, they planned to find him a new owner. In mid-February they handed Harley over to a new family. The next day, they asked for him back.
“I had bonded with him,” Nnancy Woods said. “I was terrified for him. My heart just hurt for the trauma he had been through. I felt like he had been with us for two weeks, and then he was uprooted again. I felt horrible about that.”
Now Harley has the run of the Woods family’s rural property, which he shares with Bob, a rescued cat who’s larger than him. He’s doing well, the Woods say, though he’s timid, shakes when nervous and can’t really bark. He starts coughing when he tries to do so.
Last weekend, the Woods reported, Harley slept under the covers with Nancy’s 7-year-old granddaughter.
Seems he’s beginning to realize that, however evil some of them might be, there are some good humans out there, too.
(Photo: Peninsula Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek April 3rd, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal cruelty, animals, behavior, bonding, charles schramm, chihuahua, cut, dog, dogs, harley, harley-davidson, herb woods, humans, monte mogi, motorcycle, nancy woods, olympic peninsula, pets, port angeles, rescue, saving, shelter, slit, throat, trauma, veterinarian, veterinary, washington
When a Maltese-poodle mix named Mindy was found after being lost for 100 days in the woods of northwest Massachusetts, she was infested with fleas, her weight had dropped to three pounds, and her fur was so matted over her face that she couldn’t see, which explained why she was running around in circles.
She was “effectively blind,” said Martha King-Devine, of the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society. “She was just skin and bones when they brought her into the shelter.”
Mindy was lost during a family trip in August, surviving more than three months among the owls, foxes, coyotes and bears who dwell in the woods, the Mansfield News Journal reports.
Mindy had disappeared when Kathy and John Dunbar stopped at a rest area on their way to Maine to visit a terminally ill relative. “I thought he put her in and he thought I put her in,” Dunbar said.
Back on the road, they realized Mindy was missing, and retraced their route, spending six hours trying to find her. They also dropped off business cards at shops and police stations, and filed a report with the Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society — all, it seemed, to no avail.
On Nov. 13, though, Mindy was found by Tye Carlson, a boy with autism, about 30 miles from the rest area. Tye and his father took her to a local veterinarian, then took her home, where Tye — normally fearful of dogs, according to his mother — became fast friends with Mindy.
The Carlsons were more than happy to keep Mindy, but when they learned — through the humane society — that she had been reported missing three months earlier, Carlson and her son knew that they had to give Mindy back to her owners.
Mindy is back home with the Dunbars now.
Mrs. Carlson, meanwhile, said she is “definitely thinking” about getting a dog for her son now.
Here’s hoping he gets a great one.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 21st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: autism, autistic, bonding, dakin pioneer valley humane society, dog, dogs, fear, found, john dunbar, kathy dunbar, lost, maltese, massachusetts, mindy, pets, poodle, returned, tye carlson, woods
Who needs children when a puppy can provide a similar emotional experience?
New Scientist magazine recently asked that question in an article about a Japanese study that showed relating to dogs causes a surge of the same hormones triggered by nurturing an infant, romantic love and close friendship.
Oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle chemical” and the “love drug,” has been found to relieve stress, combat depression, breed trust in humans and generally make life more worth living. When two humans bond, their oxytocin levels increase.
Miho Nagasawa and Takefumi Kikusui, biologists at Azuba University in Japan, suspected social contact between two different species might boost oxytocin levels, as well.
“Miho and I are big dog lovers and feel something changed in our bodies when gazed [upon] by our dogs,” Kikusui says.
They recruited 55 dog owners and their pets for a videotaped laboratory play session. Owners provided a urine sample to measure oxytocin levels. They were then divided into two groups — one that played with their dog for half an hour, one that sat in the same room but were told to completely avoid their dogs’ gazes.
Then everybody’s urine was tested again. Participants that spent a long time making eye contact were determined to have experienced increases in their oxytocin levels of more than 20%. Those who avoided their pooches’ gaze saw their oxytocin levels drop slightly.
Among those playing with their dogs, the longer they made eye contact, the higher the increase was in their levels of the hormone.
A flood of the cuddle chemical could explain why playing with dogs can lift moods and even improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, Kikusui says. Possibly, the scientists say, oxytocin even played a part in the domestication of dogs from wolves, about 15,000 years ago.
“Maybe during the evolutionary process, humans and dogs came to share the same social cues”, such as eye contact and hand gestures, Kikusui says. “This is why dogs can adapt to human society.”
Posted by John Woestendiek March 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: azuba university, bond, bonding, children, cuddle chemical, depression, dog, dogs, evolution, evolved, experiment, eye contact, hormone, hormones, humanization, japan, love drug, new scientist, owners, oxytocin, relationship, science, social contact, stress, study, trust