I’m in Bahrain for a few weeks visiting family, but I am quickly becoming obsessed with the street dogs here. It’s a bit of a weird contrast, because some people leave out food and water for them, while others throw rocks at them (though I have yet to personally see this, I’ve just read about it) – not necessarily to be evil, but out of fear. Muslims are taught that dogs are unclean (though this seems to be ignored for more openminded/modern families), but on the other hand, are also taught to avoid cruelty and view animals as a community in the Qur’an. Everyone I’ve met personally is lovely to the strays -one of my cousins-in-law has a pet dog, half Pomeranian and half shitzu, who I have yet to meet, but is adorable in pictures, and one of my Aunties-in-law has 7 indoor cats, all rescued strays, 5 at a local vet who she pays for and provides food for, and another estimated 7 – 10 more who she feeds in the backyard every day, sometimes kibble, sometimes chicken, sometimes fish… lucky cats!
There are 7 or so strays who hang out maybe ten feet from our house. They are adorable. Skittish – they run if you approach – but if you keep your distance, they just happily lounge in the shade.
Yesterday I bought some kibble, and this morning, I pulled an abaya over my short-shorts and headed out. The abaya, for the record, is certainly not necessary here – the most liberal country in the Middle East -, but people will stare at a tattooed white girl in short-shorts who is giving kibble to stray dogs, so I figured I’d avoid it. I poured a pile of kibble right near our house, along with a bucket of water, but I also sprinkled a trail from where the dogs seem to like to nap all the way over to our house so that they’ll find it, as they won’t come near while I’m out there. The nice thing is that our house has a rooftop balcony, where I can sit out with a cup of chai, watching them.
The quickly discovered the kibble I’d scattered near them, though not the big pile near our house yet.
There is one adorable dog who seems to have a broken paw, or something wrong with his (her?) paw. Poor guy, he keeps it raised, limping around on three legs, scrounging for the kibble. I’m hoping if I can gain his trust I can catch him and bring him to a rescue to get medical attention before my time here is up.
I am hoping to stop by the BSPCA within the next few days, and am also hoping to interview Tony, who owns The Dogfather Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre here, so I’ll certainly have more updates. Inshallah, I can bring my limping friend to Tony!
Update, May 13: I have just learned that underground dog fighting still runs pretty rampant in Bahrain. Apparently that’s why sometimes strays just go missing – the people running the fights catch them. I am going to do my very best to learn what I can about this over the next few days, but on the off chance that any of my Bahraini readers have any info (Oh hai, /r/Bahrain!) please, please use the contact me form and let me know, or comment below. Anonymously, if that makes you more comfortable. Much love, V.