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
Moscow’s stray dogs, as we’ve previously reported, make good use of the city subway system — and authorities and residents generally tolerate it.
But this week when a stray, apparently seeking a warm place to deliver her litter, boarded a train to give birth during rush hour, they were even more cooperative.
Passengers got off the train and put up with hour-long delays so the train the dog was on could be sent to a depot for a more private birthing experience.
As you can see in the video above, a number of people volunteered to help.
At the depot, under the supervision of metro workers and a vet they called in to supervise, she gave birth to nine pups — and the metro administration has started a campaign to find homes for all of them, Sputnik News reported.
After the births, they were all taken to a shelter.
Dogs boarding trains and taking seats is a fairly common sight in Moscow, where strays are plentiful and steps to shelter and find them homes are not.
In fact, the stray dogs of Moscow are a true social phenomenon. Some of them commute from the suburbs by train because it is easier to get handouts from humans in the city.
Foraging dogs have long been part of Moscow’s landscape, but they stayed mostly in the city’s industrial zones and lived a semi-feral existence. They mainly relied on discarded food and kept their distance from humans. But with old factories being transformed into shopping centers and apartments, strays have learned humans have the food and the inner city is the place to beg.
It’s sort of a small scale reenactment, with a twist, of the whole domestication of the species — dogs turned feral returning once again for a human handout and, in the process, learning big city ways.
The strays have learned to cross the street with pedestrians. Some believe that, even though the color difference is not noticeable to dogs, they’ve learned to understand the walking man signal.
As a country, though it has made strides, Russia doesn’t exactly have a shining reputation when it comes to an animal welfare. Remember Sochi?
But, as a people — even though they are often depicted as cold and hard-hearted — they have some compassion for dogs.
Maybe that’s genetic, maybe it comes from knowing how cold cold can get, maybe, in the case of Moscow, it intensifies when you’re sharing an urban area — the streets, the sidewalks, the train, your lunch — with them.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, birth, delivers, dog, dogs, feral, metro, moscow, nine, pets, pregnant, puppies, pups, russia, shelter, strays, subway, subway dogs, train, train dogs
If you were to pick up Jung Myoung Sook, her 200 dogs and her ramshackle hillside compound and plop them down in rural America, she’d be consider a hoarder for sure.
But in South Korea, where the dogs she’s caring for might well have otherwise ended up as meals in homes and restaurants, she’s really more of a saint.
Her neighbors don’t always feel that way, but I do.
Jung, who was featured on NBC Nightly News last week, has had to pack up and relocate seven times in the more than 25 years she has been rescuing dogs, due to complaints from those living nearby.
Jung picks ups strays living on the street, and she has also bought dogs that were headed to be sold for their meat.
The AP article said all the dogs in the compound appeared to be healthy.
While a small minority of South Koreans eat dog meat, dogs are raised on farms for that purpose, and can be bought, slaughtered and butchered at open-air markets.
While it has been six years since I visited one there, while researching “DOG, INC.,” my book on dog cloning, I haven’t been able to get those images out of my head since.
Seeing Jung’s smiling face, and reading of her work, helps some.
“My babies aren’t hungry. They can play and live freely here,” said Jung, 61. “Some people talk about me, saying, ‘Why is that beggar-like middle-aged woman smiling all the time,’ but I just focus on feeding my babies. I’m happy and healthy.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 9th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, cloning, cultural, culture, dog, dog meat, dogs, hoarder, hoarding, jung myoung sook, korea, markets, pets, rescue, sanctuary, shelter, south korea, strays
You’d think, as regurgitory (is that even a word?) as the Internet is, photos and videos of Eugene Bostick’s doggie train in Fort Worth would have gone viral years ago — given it is about the cutest thing ever.
Now, thanks to Facebook, Buzzfeed and the like, what Bostick created 15 years ago to give a joy ride to his rescued dogs (nine at last count) is finally getting the attention it deserves.
Twice a week, Bostick, 80, cranks the train up and allows his dogs — Wally, Buddy, Daisy, Jack, Mickey, Ms. Nell, Chubby, Clyde and Bonnie — to take their place in their assigned seats for an hour-long ride around his 11-acre property.
If you think that sounds like a lot of work for an 80-year-old, don’t worry — Eugene gets help from his 87-year-old brother Walter “Corky” Bostick.
Eugene, a retired Union Pacific railroad employee, built the train cars with 55-gallon fiberglass barrels, and his John Deere tractor serves as the engine.
“Oh, they just love it,” Corky Bostick said. “Every time he takes the covers off, they start jumping and barking, ready for the ride.”
Eugene Bostick hooks a wooden ramp to the cars to help some of the older dogs in.
Only two of the dogs have ever tried to jump out — Bonnie and Clyde, brother and sister, who are now kept leashed into their cars.
While you can find videos of the train on YouTube from nearly as far back as three years ago, it was only last week that the train claimed its place in popular culture.
“We got a call from New York one morning telling us the video had gone viral,” said Patricia Bostick, Eugene’s wife. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing.”
Most of the calls are from the news media, which somehow didn’t learn about the train until social media helped them out.
“Oh, I’m in good health,” Eugene told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So I guess I’ll be driving them around for as long as I can.”
The Bosticks have collected the dogs over the years as strays, some of them abandoned around their property near downtown Fort Worth.
Eugene and his brother also tend to more than 30 other animals — domestic and not so domestic — including goats, rabbits, geese, ducks, fish, cats, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes.
(Photo by Bob Booth from the Star-Telegram)
Posted by John Woestendiek September 28th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, barrels, bonnie, buddy, buzzfeed, chubby, clyde, daisy, dog, dog train, dogs, eugene bostick, facebook, fort worth. texas, jack, mikey, ms. Nell, pets, photos, rescued, ride, social media, strays, train, video, viral, wally
It’s not every day that a group of shelter dogs has its own art exhibit.
This one opens Sunday in São Paulo and it’s aimed at raising awareness about the plight of Brazil’s stray dogs.
Shelter dogs from Procure1Amigo were used to create the 18 artworks by shaking off the paint (edible and non-toxic) that was poured on them.
The paintings go on sale when the exhibit opens Sunday at São Paulo’s Perestroika. Photos of the dogs shaking their way through the creative process, channeling their inner Jackson Pollock, will also be for sale.
And the artists will be available for adoption.
It’s part of campaign called “Canismo,” an artistic movement supporting the adoption of shelter animals.
“The shake of the paint reveals a remarkable exercise of freedom, where each drop of ink bears the stain of prejudice,” reads a statement on the Canismo website.
“The combination of different colors in the paintings shows the mixture of breeds, as random and as beautiful as each mongrel dog.”
The brightly colored paints were made using corn starch and food coloring.
(Photo: Courtesy of Canismo)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 8th, 2015 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, animals, art, brazil, canismo, canvas, dog, dog art, dogs, exhibit, mutts, paint, pets, shaking, shelter, strays
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
That Ecuadorian street dog who befriended a Swedish adventure racing team after they tossed him a meatball is an official resident of Sweden now.
Arthur, as the team named him, followed the extreme racers for the last 50 or so miles of the 430-mile race — slogging through mud, traipsing through jungle growth, climbing up mountainsides and at one point, after race officials advised the team to leave the dog behind, plunging into a river and swimming alongside their kayaks.
The team had stopped to eat before the final two stages of the race when member Mikael Lindnord noticed the scruffy yellow stray and tossed him a meatball from the can he was eating from.
It was a simple, nonchalant gesture — one Lindnord said he didn’t think too much of at the time.
Clearly, though, Arthur did.
When the four-member team finished lunch and resumed the race — beginning a 24-mile hike through the rainforest — Arthur, named after the legendary King Arthur, got up and followed.
Adventure Racing is a form of extreme sport that combines continuous hiking, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking.
At a checkpoint before the final segment of the race — a 36-mile stretch of river — race organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along was inadvisable and posed a risk to both the dog’s safety and their’s.
Team members agreed to push on without him, but after their kayaks pulled away Arthur jumped into the river, caught up with them and swam alongside.
When Lindnord saw the dog was struggling to keep up, he pulled Arthur aboard.
Spectators standing on shore applauded.
By the end of the race, Lindnord said he had decided to try and adopt the dog and take him back to Sweden.
He admitted in a Daily Mail article that Arthur — due to living a harsh life on the streets — was in pretty bad shape even before accompanying the team on the last two legs of the race.
Once the race was over, Arthur was taken to a vet in Ecuador, and Lindnor applied to Sweden’s board of agriculture, or Jordbruksverket for permission to bring Arthur home. Arthur had already become a media star by then.
“I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from in Sweden,” Lindnord wrote on the Facebook page of Team Peak Performance.
They flew home together this week.
“I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship,” he said. “Instead, I got a new friend.”
(Photos: Krister Göransson)
Posted by John Woestendiek November 25th, 2014 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adventure, animals, arthur, bicycles, bonds, can, dog, dogs, ecuador, extreme, follows, hiking, jungle, kayaks, loyalty, meatball, mikael lindnord, pack, pets, race, racers, rainforest, river, stray, strays, sweden, team, team peak performance, trekking