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
Ultra-orthodox Jews, much like some followers of Islam, would rather not be among dogs.
There is a common view, among Hasidic Jews, that dogs are impure and unhygienic, should never be inside the home, and are best avoided.
So Gedalya Gottenger makes for an unusual sight as he plies his trade on the streets he grew up on, in what was a nearly all-Jewish enclave in New York’s Williamsburg.
Gottenger is a Hasidic Jew, and a dog walker.
Gottenger said that, growing up, he rarely saw a dog in his neighborhood. As a result, he saw dogs as a little bit frightening.
“Dogs were seen as frightening by default,” Gottenger told The Forward which featured the dog walker in a recent article.
“It doesn’t matter the size, the shape or the color. They were always scary.”
When the friend asked him to babysit the dog, he agreed.
Now, he walks up to five dogs regularly.
He knows some might see what he’s doing as an act of rebellion, and admits that might be one of the factors that led him into the job.
“I get to spend time with dogs, which is the most important part, I guess,” he said. “And then there is the rebellion part, the money part, but it’s all intermingled in a way.”
He said he was worried at first that other Hasidic Jews might be upset with his new undertaking, which he started about a year and a half ago. But he likes the fact that he is shattering a stereotype.
He says his father “doesn’t know, or at least doesn’t tell me that he knows” about his occupation — even though he has a Facebook page about it.
On the streets, he says, any comments made to him while walking dogs are “very benign.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 12th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, dog walker, dogs, gedalya gottenger, hasidic, jew, jewish, new york, orthodox, pets, religion, williamsburg
Our forefathers may have overlooked listing it in the Constitution, but I’d rank it up there with free speech, religious freedom and the right to bear arms… maybe even above the right to bear arms:
It’s the right to get a beer at a bar with your dog — one of life’s true pleasures, assuming you love beer and love dogs (and assuming it’s cool with the bar owner).
Local health departments, often, don’t see it that way, as was recently the case in New York City, where The Gate, a tavern in Park Slope, was told it can no longer allow patrons to come in with their dogs.
The city Department of Health based their order on a law prohibiting any live animal from being in a food service establishment.
The Gate is not a restaurant, but, under the law, beer, wine, booze and ice are considered foods.
Unconstitutional? Should be, I say, tongue not entirely in cheek.
All 50 states allow residents to carry concealed guns outside their homes. Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, and Ohio have laws specifically allowing guns in bars. Bar patrons in South Carolina and North Carolina also aren’t required to disarm when entering a bar.
Twenty states, including New York and New Jersey, do not address the question of guns in bars at all.
It makes me uncomfortable, living in a world (and a state) where guns have more rights, privileges and protections than dogs.
And it gives me pause (not paws, for that would be a pun), that local health departments can get so worked up about a hound sleeping on a bar floor when Ebola is at our doorstep. Don’t they have more important things to do?
But back to The Gate.
After the health department laid down the law at the corner of 5th Avenue and 3rd Street, management posted a sign on the door of the tavern, saying, “with apologies to our furry friends,” dogs could no longer be allowed.
Meanwhile, Brooklyn pet owners have started a petition on the website Park Slope for Pets (see the upper right corner of that page) asking the Health Department to “allow dogs at The Gate” and reclassify bars that don’t serve food. As of this morning, nearly 600 signatures had been collected.
“We support The Gate’s dog-friendly status in the neighborhood as well as all other non-food drinking establishments that welcome dogs,” the petition’s sponsors say. “We are not looking for an exception for The Gate but rather a revision to the statute with regard to all non-food drinking establishments.”
I hold an even more radical stance. I’m for letting well-behaved dogs into places that do serve food, and even inside, as opposed to the patio (given it’s OK with the owner).
I’m more concerned with what’s going on unseen in the kitchen than the possibility of evil germs hopping off a dog and onto my plate of mozzarella sticks.
If its OK for service dogs to go inside restaurants, it should be OK for all well-socialized dogs — because all dogs, in a way, are service dogs.
My dog Ace, a one-time therapy dog who now counsels only me (and at a very reasonable fee) grew up spending some time (but not an inordinate amount of time) at a neighborhood bar in Baltimore I patronized.
I like to think he added to the bar’s character, and warmth, and friendliness, and vice versa. Admittedly, he also served as a social crutch for me, making conversations easier to start, making me more comfortable, keeping me from getting too tongue tied.
Just as dogs need to be socialized, so do we. And dogs and bars — independently and especially in combination — can help those of us who have difficulty in that area achieve that.
Dogs in bars lead to more social dogs, and more social people. (With the exception of those humans who are aghast by the prospect of a dog in a bar or restaurant and feel the need to file an official complaint, as opposed to just avoiding the establishment.)
“One of my favorite parts about going to The Gate was that I could enjoy a quiet night out without the lingering guilt of knowing my dog was waiting for me at home,” one dog owner told Park Slope Stoop. “… It’s disappointing that they are losing part of their character because of the DOH’s overreach in enforcing the Health Law.”
The Gate’s owner, Bobby Gagnon, reportedly plans to fight the health department edict when he appears before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on Nov. 18 — not so much to be granted an exception as to clarify the law.
Dog owners need to push back from time to time, as opposed to just letting themselves be pushed around. I think that happens because dog owners are generally calm, easy-going, reasonable, level-headed people (thanks, at least in part, to their dogs), and because they realize having a dog — whether it’s a right or not — is truly a privilege.
Maybe if dog owners got political, played dirty, sported bumper stickers and insisted on exercising the right to have a Bud with their bud, we could resolve the problem, short of a Constitutional amendment.
Maybe if dog owners could be as strident and overbearing as gun lobbyists, they could enjoy more freedoms with their dogs.
Maybe, when authorities come to take our dogs out of a bar in which he or she is otherwise welcome, we should say, “Sure, you can take my dog out of this establishment … when you pry the leash out of my cold dead fingers.”
Maybe someday the Supreme Court will address the burning questions: Is ice food? And even if so, do we have a right to walk into a bar with our dog?
I’m sure critics will say it’s frivolous of me to compare taking your terrier to a tavern with our right to tote firearms, or our Constitutionally granted freedoms of religion and speech.
But are they really that different?
My dog protects me, like a gun. My dog nourishes and consoles me, like a religion. And he frees up my speech better than the First Amendment ever did.
(Photos: Ace and his friend Stringer at a Recreation Billiards, a dog friendly bar in Winston-Salem, Ace at The Dog Bar in Charlotte, and a Great Dane at The Dog Bar, by John Woestendiek / ohmidog!; sign outside The Gate in New York, from Park Slope Stoop)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 10th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, animals, constitution, dining, dog bars, dog friendly, dog owners, dogs, dogs in bars, establishments, firearms, food, free speech, freedoms, guns, health department, ice, laws, new york, pets, priviliges, public health, questions, recreation billiards, religion, religious, restaurants, rights, rules, service dogs, supreme court, taverns, the dog bar, the gate
Facing death threats, the organizer of an event aimed at softening the harsh view many Muslims have of dogs has apologized for the furor his “I Want to Touch a Dog” gathering has created.
Syed Azmi Abhalshi, reacting to complaints that the event in Malaysia was insensitive, said he was only trying to educate people — Muslim and non-Muslim.
He said his intention was not to convert Muslims into dog lovers or lead them to violate the precepts of their faith.
Many Malays took offense at photos from the event.
“I organized this event because of Allah, not to deviate the people’s faiths, try to change the Islamic rules of law, poke fun at the ulama or encourage pluralism,” Syed Azmi said.
Since the event last Sunday, he has received threats, and posts on social media platforms have accused him of being “a Christian in disguise, according to the Straits Times.
Syed Azmi spoke at a press conference Saturday in Kelab Sri Selango — but left abruptly because he feared for his safety, his lawyer said.
“We are very concerned with his well being,” his lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, said.
In the week since the event Syed Azmi, a pharmacist, has received more than 3,000 phone messages on his phone, many of them hateful and a dozen of them threatening physical harm, the New York Times reports.
The event, aimed at dispelling negative perception of dogs particularly among Muslims, started out as a small get-together for those curious about dogs, but it was attended by about 800 people, about half of them Muslims.
Syed Azmi said he never meant to encourage people, particularly the Muslims, to adopt dogs as pets but was merely trying to offer advice on how to deal with dogs.,
“During the event, the participants were also given detailed explanation on rules and regulations on how to handle dogs,” he said, including instructions in sertu, the Islamic way of purifying.
Some Muslim attendees kissed and cuddled with dogs, but organizers said that — despite the event’s name — wasn’t the intention of the program.
“There were those who wanted to learn to touch the dogs and there were those who just wanted to observe,” said co-organizer Norhayati Ismail. “I admit we had no control over the crowd and what they did to the dogs. There could also be those who came late and did not hear our explanation from the Islamic perspectives,” she said.
Although many Muslims in other countries do not view touching dogs as forbidden, conservative Islamic groups in Malaysia view dogs as unclean and followers are required to undergo a ritualistic wash if they come into contact with canines.
(Top photo: Najjua Zulkefli / The Malaysian Insider)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 28th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, apology, controversy, death threats, dogs, event, furor, i want to touch a dog, islam, malaysia, muslims, perception, pets, religion, syed azmi, Syed Azmi Abhalshi, threats, touch a dog
Hundreds of Muslims in Malaysia put their dogma aside Sunday so they could pet some dogs.
The event was called “I Want to Touch a Dog,” and it was aimed at addressing concerns among large segments of the Muslim population who think dogs are unclean, unpure and of no spiritual value.
It was organized by Syed Azmi Alhabshi, a pharmacist in his 30s who hopes it will help people overcome their misconceptions, sensitivities and fears of dogs and instill compassion for all animals, according to the Malaysian Insider.
About 1,000 people gathered at Central Park in Petaling Jaya for the event, which was promoted though Facebook.
Roughly half of those present were Muslims, Asia One reported.
Those attending were asked to wear coded colors — yellow for those who wanted to touch dogs, orange for those who just wanted to watch, and red for pet owners and volunteers.
“I came here to learn more about interacting with dogs,” said a mother of two who identified herself as Fatimah. “I’ve never done such a thing before.”
The ‘pettable’ dogs included a purebred Afghan hound, Chow Chows, and mutts.
Organizers also hope the event will help reduce rock-throwing and other abuses directed at dogs as a result of the dim view some Muslims have of them.
“Spent two-three hours of my morning strolling around Central Park and playing with these cute furbabies!” one attendee wrote in a post on Pinterest ” … I always thought that as a Muslim I needed to stay away from (dogs) by all means. Ignorance at its best? Perhaps. This program was a great initiative … to raise awareness about the position of dogs through the Muslim perspective and I even learned the proper way to wash-up after being in contact with a wet dog/their saliva.
“We are all so quick to judge and say that dogs are ‘haram’ because that’s what we’ve been taught all along, but we never bother to learn beyond that. Islam has never taught any of their believers to discriminate against any of God’s creations, so why should we treat these beautiful creatures any differently?”
(Photo: By Aileen Chuah / Facebook)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 22nd, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animal welfare, animals, awareness, cruelty, dog, dogs, event, i want to touch a dog, islam, malaysia, muslims, pes, petting, religion, tradition, unclean, unpure, view
The Rev. Arlene M. Tully jokes that there are some similarities between her dog and members of her congregation.
“He sleeps through my sermons like everyone else,” the Methodist minister said.
But there is someone that Kirby — the golden-lab retriever mix who is almost always at her side — reminds her of even more:
“Kirby is a living, breathing metaphor for God’s love,” she told the Bangor Daily News. “The way he expresses love is as unconditional as God’s love. He instantly and fully embraces every person that he meets and that is a more accurate metaphor for God’s love than human love.”
Kirby the Ministry Dog attends services at First United Methodist Church in Bangor, Maine. He’s present for church dinners and other functions. He accompanies her on home visits, and trips to nursing homes and hospitals. And everywhere they go together, she notes, Kirby has a way of connecting with people, and getting them to open up.
“He’s a catalyst for those kinds of conversations,” said Tully,
The 2½ -year-old dog was trained as a service dog by Canine Companions for Independence at its campus in Medford, New York.
If Tully tells him to “visit,” Kirby will put his head in the lap of a person. If she says “lap,” he’ll gently place his paw on the leg of the person he’s visiting. When she say’s “push,” he’ll open an automatic door by pushing the button.
Tully, 57, became the church’s pastor in July. While she grew up a Roman Catholic, she left the church as a college student. She worked in restaurant management for 25 years before attending Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton Centre, Massachusetts.
Kirby, her second “ministry dog,” came to live with Tully in February while she was pastor of Pleasant Street United Methodist Church in Waterville, and he’s been helping her reach out to people ever since.
“Together, we have an instant bridge to people that I alone might not have otherwise,” she said.
(Photo: Ashley L. Conti / Bangor Daily News)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 30th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, bangor, church, dog, dogs, god, kirby, maine, methodist, minister, ministry dog, pets, religion, retriever
(If you’d like musical accompaniment with this article, click on the video at the bottom of the post, then scroll back up to read.)
The mission of St. Patrick’s Parish in Hortonville, Wisconsin, is to “be one with Christ in making the reign of God a reality … celebrate His love in Word and Sacraments … and be responsible stewards of time, talent, and treasure.”
Yet the Catholic parish has no problem sponsoring a fundraising event in which frightened pigs are punched, kicked, body-slammed and crammed into steel vats.
Apparently, they don’t see pigs falling under their “stewardship.” Or they think that “dominion” we supposedly have over all God’s other creatures includes the right to thrash farm animals in the name of sport. Or maybe the 44-year-old tradition is just too big a moneymaker to cancel.
Canceling the event — scheduled for this weekend — is what a Wisconsin-based animal advocacy group is calling for.
The Global Conservation Group says the event violates state laws prohibiting cockfighting, dogfighting, and other fighting between animals or between animals and humans. They say even being a spectator at such an event is a felony under state law.
The parish says the annual “Round Up” event consists of two to six people getting into a muddy ring and wrestling a hog — one they say is “sized accordingly” — into a vat.
“We take very strong precautions to make sure our pigs and our participants are taking care of each other,” organizer Glenn Van Handel, the chair of Saint Patrick’s Parish, told NBC 26.
The Global Conservation Group says the pigs face a high potential for being injured in the event, in which it says pigs are punched in the face, kicked, body-slammed, jumped on, yelled at and thrown into a bucket.
The group says it has filed reports with local, state and federal agencies alerting them to what they say is an illegal event.
A petition urging the church to cancel the event can be found at change.org
Posted by John Woestendiek August 8th, 2014 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: all gods creatures, animal welfare, barrels, buckets, catholic, choir, church, dominion, god, gods creatures, hortonville, kicked, mud, parish, pig wrestling, pigs, punched, religion, slammed, st. patricks, stewardship, vats, wisconsin