The Dog at Aunt’s Home

June 12, 2008

“Hey, you have got a dog in your house!”

It was my brother Nawaz. I turned around to see a dog in the kitchen garden, looking at Nawaz, with its innocent eyes. There is nothing special in having a dog in our house for many of us, but it is not the case in an orthodox Muslim family in many parts of Kerala, who considered dogs as untouchables, and have to bath 7 times if we touch one! We were at our uncle’s house, who was a Muslim scholar and the Principal of an Islamic University. So, it was unusual to find a dog in his house.

“Where did you buy it?”

“From Perinthalmanna” Aunty replied, but I understood she was just joking and they haven’t bought the dog. Uncle was not a person who spends money on anything like that, not at all on dogs!

“Is it your neighbors’?” asked Nawaz.

“No, ours. I told you” replied my cousin.

But it was difficult for us to believe it. A dog in their house? As usual, we were also taught that touching dogs was Haram, and we should bath seven times, once with mud, if we touch one. So noway people just bringing a dog home and bathing 7 times daily – suppose the dog touch you more than once? Multiples of 7 began revolving around my head.

“Ok, aunt, be serious” Nasweef, also my brother, who was quite until now, started losing his patience. “Where did you get that dog?”

“Okay, I’ll tell you.” She showed us a basin half filled with water in her kitchen garden.

“I pour a little of water in it everyday, for my hens to drink from it. But now, there are many animals that drink from it. The cats come, squirrels come, my hens, birds and sometimes some small insects. One day there was this dog drinking from that basin.”

I looked at the dog carefully. It was cream in color with some brown patches, and I don’t know to which breed it belonged to, as the only dog breeds I know is the Pomeranian (cute ones) and the Pug (the one in Vodafone advertisements!). It had a belt around it’s neck!

“Seems he is a pet dog coming from some family. What do you give him to eat?”

I inquired.

“Nothing” replied aunt, “It gets enough to eat from that butcher shop down street. All it needs is the water in the basin. One day I forgot to keep the water in the basin. It came to the kitchen door and looked at all of us for sometime, went away, came back again, put it’s tongue outside and stood there sometime. It repeated this for sometime and it was only then I remembered to pour water in the basin.”

Wow! What a good dog!

“Looks smart” said Nasweef, gazing the dog.

“It is”, my cousin approved. “When one of our chickens died, it did not allow us to bury the chicken. It carried the chicken wherever it went, kept it on the ground and barked two or three times as if to wake the chicken from a long sleep. When it slept, it kept the chick near it’s head. It sat beside the chicken for a long time, until the ants came and made it impossible for the dog to touch the chicken.”

“Well, a dog of noble birth” commented Nawaz.

“But her puppies doesn’t have her qualities” continued my cousin, “Our neighbors took her puppies as pets. But none shows her decency and nobleness.”

“Well, may be the puppies inherited from their father.”

The three of us gathered around the dog to have a closer look. Beautiful ears, commented Nawaz. Cute tail was what Nasweef noted. Well, altogether she was really beautiful. Good to keep it as a pet.

“She is very fond of Uncle. Whenever he goes out, sometimes to mosque for prayer, she follows him. He tries to get rid of her, but she follows him, waits until he finishes his prayer, and follows him back.”

Such a big gratitude for the drops of water she drinks from the basin! I think animals have more “humanity” than humans!

“But what do you do if she touches you? You have to bath 7 times!” It was Nawaz who put the matter into discussion.

“You don’t have to bath 7 times if a dog touches you” Aunty explained, “only wash the part of anything where its saliva has come into contact.”

“You mean you don’t have to bath? But that was not what we were taught.”

“Yeah, even I was taught like that. But we never try to learn what the Hadith or scholars really says. We just follow what our local Imams say. And many of them don’t know much about Islam – or they haven’t learned any. That is why Islam is always the misunderstood religion.”

That was a new knowledge to me. I liked dogs very much, especially the Pomeranian – I badly wanted one. But I didn’t want to bath 7*x times daily.

“She looks after our hens when they go out of our compound,” aunt continued, referring the dog. “At first I tried to get rid of her thinking that she will kill my hens. But she was very caring. She never eats anything from here, not even our waste, until we give it to her.”

“And she never fights with the cats or kittens here, as you see in the Tom and Jerry movies” said my cousin. “And the funniest part is he never barks at well dressed strangers, but barks when he sees people like beggars!”

Hmmm….. What to say about such a good dog?

Well, we returned from their house talking about the dog. All of us wanted to have a dog like that! I wanted a cute Pomeranian, with all the said qualities of this dog. But when we reached our home, and into the busy life of it, we forgot all about the dog, until one day when aunty called.

It was Nawaz who answered the phone.

“Hows your dog doing”, was his first question, even before the usual greetings. My mom started to scold him, asking him if that is the way to answer a phone.

“Brilliant” said aunty.

“Yesterday, it saved Neda.”

Neda was her one year old grandchild, who taking her first steps towards walking.

“Saved Neda? How?” saked Nawaz.

“In the afternoon, the dog started barking from our kitchen garden. I opened the door, and it ran inside.”

Dogs are not allowed inside our homes.

“Uncle became very angry for allowing it inside, and started scolding me. But the dog ran straight to the bathroom, while I followed. In the bathroom, I saw Neda drowning in the bathtub, which was filled with water. I took her out immediately, and went to the clinic opposite the road. Thanks to God, it seemed she has only just fallen into the tub when we saw her.”

“But how did the dog in the kitchen garden knew Neda had fallen into the tub in the bathroom? The garden and bathroom are far away!”

“Well, that is what surprises us all. No explanation for that!”


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