photo: Eddy van Wessel


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Scared of my cat

A teenager girl is walking a tiny dog in the gardens in front of my house. It’s a young animal, and it is playing with the leash. Two young boys have walked up to the girl. Somehow I know they are asking her about this cute little dog.

But when the playful dog makes a move towards them, I see both boys step back. I cannot help but smile, and yet I feel sorry for them. To be afraid of such a small and cute animal… How did this happen?

“When we were small we were told the cat would eat us”, a friend tells me when I urge her again and again to come and visit me. “That was the threat that worked the best when we would not eat our food, or did something naughty.”

She does not visit my home, because I have a cat. A quiet and shy cat, but the thought of being in one room with a cat scares my otherwise so brave friend. And she is far from the only one. I do not even have to ask the boys in the garden why they are afraid: it is because of their parent’s stories.

I know of kids throwing stones at dogs, hitting puppies with sticks. I know of neighbours poisoning the dog next door. I do not let my cat outside because of what people might do to her. This is for me the very dark side of Kurdistan.

It’s not only that parents withhold the possibility for their children to experience the special friendship of animals. It is also that they scar them for life in their attitude towards creatures that are part of our world.

The simple excuse is: we are Muslims, and we consider dogs as dirty. But at the same time the Prophet showed he cared for animals, by leaving his coat behind instead of waking the cat that was sleeping on it.

Why are we all happy that the dogs at the airports are keeping us safe, as it has been proven that they are much better at finding dangerous substances than any machine? Does this not show us that dogs are worthy of our friendship?

I can understand that parents want to keep their kids away from wild dogs and cats, as they might indeed carry diseases. But dogs and cats are not dirty if you look after them. If you make sure they are vaccinated, and give them a wash when needed.

So why make kids scared for them? Why ignore the century old bond between man and animal? Let’s tell children the truth. Animals can be the most loyal friend that you will ever have. And probably the only ones in your life that do not judge you.

This blog was first published in Kurdish in the daily Kurdistani Nwe

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