Monday, May 19, 2014

Shaking Hand: A Memory of Pakistan

After reading my story about the dead monkey, an old colleague emailed me a nasty picture of two Pakistani boys beating a small puppy to death on a roadside. He wrote under it, "Remember?" I did remember the savagery with which Pakistanis treated animals, especially dogs. They showed no sympathy or empathy for the suffering of animals, and seemed to enjoy inflicting needless pain and death on them. This, of course, was also a society in which women were treated not much better than these animals.

I am not a vegetarian; I recognize the need for some testing of medicines and other products on animals; I eat meats and seafood of all kinds; I have hunted birds and mammals; I have had no problem pulling a weapon on threatening humans. I, however, hate cruelty and despise people who abuse animals or other humans just because they have the power to do so. That was a big problem I had in my service in Muslim countries; one had to turn a blind eye to the big and little savageries of daily life there. Those were quite common in Pakistan. One saw animals, children, and women beaten. I remember a crowd in Peshawar stoning a confused dog to death while children laughed and cheered. Our maid, a Christian widow with a young daughter, had been forced to undergo sterilization by her previous Muslim employer as a condition of her employment. He assumed Christian women were of loose morals, and didn't want her to get pregnant.

When we weren't in Peshawar, or I was on the road, we lived in a big, charmless concrete house in Islamabad. It had a high wall and a large yard. Our immediate neighbors were a Spanish family. The man of the house, Eliseo, worked for the US Embassy and was a superb engineer. He was helping build the new chancery. He barely had escaped with his life when the embassy was attacked. Trapped in his second floor office with a Pakistani employee when the mob set the building on fire, he decided to jump from the window into the screaming horde; his employee did not follow. Eliseo landed on his feet, and although breaking an ankle, he managed to act as though he were part of the attacking crowd. He gradually limped to the back of the mob, and got a ride on a motorcycle to his house. The employee left behind died from the smoke. That experience gave Eliseo a healthy skepticism about life in Pakistan.

Eliseo and I became hunting buddies, and enjoyed going out for boar and birds. He was a superb shot and knew all the good hunting spots. He was also an outstanding cook who could prepare game like nobody else I have ever met.

The Diplowife and I found and adopted a small, underfed, rather ragged puppy who appeared one morning at our gate. I barely stopped the guard from stomping the pup to death. He couldn't understand why we would want such a miserable looking thing. Well, we cleaned him up, and took him to a local veterinarian accustomed to crazy foreigners. The vet vaccinated the pup, and gave us other medicines for him. Our Christian maid cheerfully would cook him some meat and rice every day; our Muslim employees stayed away from him. We named him Kutta, Urdu for dog--not too original, I admit. After three weeks or so he was coming along nicely; he was turning into an affectionate little beast, following me around the cavernous house, ears flapping and tail wagging, and with that grim look of determination that puppies adopt as though they are going on a vital mission. I also enjoyed playing with him in the yard.

One day I was standing outside our gate talking to Eliseo. Our guard cracked the gate open to say something to me and, you guessed it, Kutta slipped out. He ran into the street as a small taxi cab was speeding by. The cab deliberately swerved to hit Kutta, and did so with a sickening thud, and then sped away. I can still see the driver and passengers laughing. Eliseo and I ran out into the street; I scooped up Kutta, but it was obvious the injuries were fatal. Kutta could not move his rear legs, and was coughing blood. I had my wife call the vet, but he wasn't home.

Eliseo said the obvious, "We can't let him suffer like this." I agreed. I went home, and got an old JC Higgins Model 88 .22 LR revolver I had owned since childhood. I loaded the thing and walked over to where Eliseo was comforting the dying Kutta. He stood up and made way for me. I crouched down, with my left hand grabbed Kutta by both ears, and with my right put the barrel of the revolver against the back of his small head. My hand began to shake uncontrollably. There was no way I could pull the trigger. I began to feel a powerful sensation of nausea. I looked up at Eliseo, and said to him in Spanish, "No lo puedo hacer" ("I can't do it").  Eliseo, himself fighting back tears, said, "Move, I'll do it." In what seemed one swift movement, he grabbed Kutta by the ears, put the revolver near the back of the puppy's head, and fired. Kutta died instantly. I threw up.

Eliseo gave me the revolver, which I stuffed into my belt. He helped me wrap up Kutta in an old towel. As I was burying Kutta in our yard, the guard came up to me and said, "You should have let me kill him when he first showed up." I glared at him, but successfully fought my urge to pull out the JC Higgins and empty it into his stupid smiling face. I don't think I would have thrown up.

45 comments:

  1. G'day Dip,

    And it is no different on the other side of India in Bangla Desh. Another cess pit.

    I was there on a UN thing in the mid 90's and the attitude to animals and women is much the same as Pakistan.

    The chokidar [watchman/gate keeper] at our residence had a new one reemed for him by the then Australian Military Attache for abusing our female housekeeper. He never repeated the behaviour.

    There was also a sweet irony at that time with the Brit High Commission owning a landing barge which was painted brilliant white and had a lovely shady awning but also had well maintained heavy machine gun mountings on it. The two Royal Marines that operated it said it was for use by the High Commissioner in entertaining but were coy about the mountings. And if you believe that it was solely for pleasure use seeing that Dhaka sits on a nice large river with access to the Bay of Bengal I have a nice bridge I can sell you.

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  2. Excellent story!
    And today in California, they'd probably try to arrest you for killing the dog.
    It's amazing how nonsensical we've become about animals here.
    Statistics around animals are pretty astounding, with year 1900 seeing some 95% of people involved in farming and in 2000 only 5%. Kids don't grow up around animals any more. Hence we have dogs in purses, dogs with clothes, dogs in cribs, dogs as wedding participants.
    When we hit a deer on the road and I told my wife that I was going to back up over its neck, she was pretty shocked. But she's very intelligent and needed little explanation.
    I know a lot of people who simply wouldn't be able to comprehend.

    - reader #1482

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    1. Coming soon to a chapel near you: dogs as wedding *principals.*

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  3. Mr. Mad,
    I grew up in the country so I have little romanticism for animals, but in my experience it is sometimes much easier to dispose of some people than any animal.

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    1. I am from farm stock, but I recognize the critical difference between romanticizing animals and brutalizing them. Normal civilized people are not capable of abusing a living animal for fun. Anyone old enough to understand their actions who abuses a living animal (or person for that matter) is exposing an internal malfunction - an incapacity to empathize that will make them potentially dangerous to anyone or anything that they perceive as in their power or beneath them. It is no coincidence that violent criminals often telegraph their pathologies early by the abuse of animals. In this case, you have an entire culture that is devoid of basic civility.

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    2. "Normal civilized" and "basic civility" are no longer permitted distinctions, comrade.

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  4. All cultures are most decidedly NOT equal.

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    1. Of course not ... ours is inferior to all others, for being imperialist and colonialist and arrogant and thinking itself superior. It says here.

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  5. Give it a few more years and you will be prosecuted for telling this story.
    Regards, JW

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  6. But, but, "religion of peace!"

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  7. Eyes on Libya.

    Ark

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  8. Ha, I knew you were a softy... The muslims you describe sound like my southern middle school friends. I guess we outgrew it to some extent. Although I will admit that I would be tempted to shoot a monkey. Hear they are good eat'in.
    Peace

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    1. I am a real softy when it comes to dogs. I'd adopt them all if I could.

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  9. As it was truly said in Heart of Darkness, but never acted upon any more: "Exterminate all the brutes."

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  10. I have seen stories on various milblogs now and again that in spite of all lectures about supporting our so-called allies in Afghanistan, and being culturally sensitive, that the ordinary troops in Afghanistan very soon come to hate the locals - precisely because they see the Afghan men so viciously beating and abusing dogs, women and kids. The troops generally love dogs, respect women and like the kids ... and watching them being routinely abused is just ... well, not all the pious lectures from their commanders on host-nation sensibilities will make the troops think better of Afghanis.
    And I do believe that there is at least one charity dedicated to bringing the dogs that the soldiers have adopted to the US and Britain ... because many of the troops are as soft as Our Good Host when it comes to dogs.

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    1. http://www.puppyrescuemission.com/

      One that comes immediately to mind.

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  11. A criticism of the British rule in India was that while they ruled, the Brits would physically hit the Indians. So rude!

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  12. I recall in the mid-90s or thereabouts reading a story about the Afghan Taliban, in which one leader is quoted as ordering the shooting of all "short-legged dogs." If I knew nothing else about them, that would put them on my sh*tlist all by itself.

    Narr the Dackel Fancier

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  13. From a cat fancier--although fond of dogs, too, as long as they're someone else's responsibility.

    The Chinese don't care much for animals, either, even though they aren't Muslim at all. My own wife was shocked at our last trip back to Taiwan to find her grown nephew raising a cat.

    I note that every sentimental vegan on every college campus in America thinks it's so wonderful how the Hindus worship the cow--but every picture of a Hindu sacred cow that I've ever seen depicted a perambulating rib cage.

    Proverbs 12:10 says "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." This was also from someone (Solomon?) who had no qualms about eating at least ruminant artiodactyls and using leather. Maybe we're seeing how people who have never been Christians (or Jews, for that matter) see the lesser creatures?

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    1. Funny you mention that. I am currently in an expensive So Cal suburb that looks a lot like Singapore. Lots of Chinese living here--Chinese with big bucks. They all have very nicely kept dogs and cats; I guess they figure that's what you do in America.

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    2. You're retired and you live in Los Angeles? Unless your wife's work or your children's residence leads you there, this is non-sensical.

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  14. Frankly, the more I learn about Pakistan, the madder I am at how much of our aid money was wasted on that worthless land. Had they gone Communist in the Cold War, my guess is that they would've sucked up plenty of Soviet and/or Chinese blood in some sort of gruesome resistance and hastened the events of 1989-91 a bit quicker--and emerged as much the rectum of the world that they are now.

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  15. The way Islamic societies treat their dogs and women speaks volumes about their pathologies. Part of the cultural jihad against the West is that they try to impose these attitudes when they immigrate to our countries. A few years ago, I teed off when Muslims in a Scottish town made the police apologize for using the image of a dog on a flier: http://goo.gl/wCtBuI

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  16. Sweet Jesus...and we are defending these people and their way of life because...?!?

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    1. Because of an illusion that, freed of the terror-masters who sponsored an attack on us, they will live under a system less poisonous, or at least will not sponsor attacks on us. This discounts the considerable power and pleasure of ingratitude.

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  17. Is there a word in Arabic, Farsi, Pushkin, Indian dialects etc. that is equivalent to the word "compassion"? Is it a foreign concept, did it ever exist in the Middle East or did Islam extinguish it? Is it only a Judeo-Christian concept?

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  18. For the first time ever, I wish I hadn't read one of your posts. Thanks for getting me in touch with my misanthropy.

    Of course this is the same Pakistan that got Zero fawning attention because he pronounced it "correctly".

    -Reader #004.

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  19. My parents gifted me my first dog on my 4th birthday. Scottie, a black Scottish terrier, a breed I recognized from the Black&White whiskey bottle that was ever-present in my father’s study. That study at the time contained all the instruments of education I needed until the advent of the internet. Encyclopedia Britannia, red leather world books of war embossed with gold filigree that told me about Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka and the rest of the holocaust and Dresden and London and Hiroshima and Pearl Harbour and walls laden with photos of our canine friends. 2-3 green shaded study-lamps, maps, a huge sideboard filled with wines and liquors from everywhere and a standalone spinning globe. I wasn’t allowed in without permission but I snuck in several times a day. Oft times I hid in one of the huge vault-like cupboards of the sideboard when I heard Dad’s footsteps approaching.

    That globe mesmerized me. I used to spin it and stop it randomly with my finger and then consulted Britannia about wherever my finger stopped. I found Dresden and Auschwitz and Belfast and Gibraltar and Singapore and the Falklands. Even though I was Irish I had English uncles of importance. A military-intelligence brigadier-General who parachuted into Arnhem during the march to the Rhine and another who was a RAF wing-commander. These men made the English palatable to a young lad raised in a Republican household. Among my fondest memories were the occasions where these esteemed gentlemen raised a glass of Sherry with my Dad. My Dad remains my eternal hero. He also flew airplanes and did a pass or two in a Spitfire and then Sopwith Camels after the war and once knocking the television antennae from the roof of our house. My special relationship with my English uncles is stuff for a future story. This is about dogs and their special role in G-d’s plan.

    Scottie was my best friend and constant companion until she died when I was 12, from poisoned meat laid by a local farmer as protection against foxes. That’s what was done in those days. It was the first time my heart was broken. My mother began breeding Dalmatians before Scottie died and then added Yorkshire Terriers to the mix upon seeing the original 101 Dalmatian movies. We supplied many top-of-breed Dalmatians and Yorkies to the North American market before we exported ourselves. My Mother said she did this to avoid finding me and my brother prostrate on the cold concrete of disputed turfs.

    Yorkies became the love of my life, in competition with Italian women, for the rest of my life, but God’s strewth it could easily have been the Dalmatians except they were too big to house in my university digs. Merry (she was born on Christmas Eve) and later Mercedes (the first brood mare of My Yorkie Empire) attended all my classes. The babes I met and the male enmities this created are legendary on my auld alma Mater founded by an Irishman. The stories we should tell.

    Young women are distrustful of young men who love dogs. They don’t like the competition. I don’t trust women who don’t like dogs. I have had a dog continuously since auld Scottie. They have seen me through the worst and reveled with me in my best. They have travelled the world with me. I have buried them in 5 countries. Each death as difficult as the loss of a parent a sibling or a child. They love you when nobody else does. They greet you every time as if it is the last time and the first time. They lift you up when you are down and all they expect is the same in return and dinner on schedule. They don’t argue with you. Treat them right and you will have it returned a thousand-fold. G-d’s gift to man. Man’s best friend.

    Max.

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    1. Ask the Referee -

      Loved your post.

      A dog is responsible for my husband and I getting to know each other and eventually marrying. I cannot imagine my life now without my husband, our golden retriever and one finicky little maltese/yorkie. They teach us so much every day.

      For all of those poor little pups who were ever abused, mistreated, and just not loved - it helps me to remember what the great Martin Luther once commented to a child who asked if her dog would be in heaven:

      “Be thou comforted, little dog, Thou too in Resurrection shall have a little golden tail."

      It helps me to remember this when I contemplate the helpless dogs in these horrid corners of the world.

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  20. So, is it culture or religion? From what I understand from Muslims I have talked about this subject is that dogs are an unclean animal and not permitted in the house, but cats are considered clean and can be in the house. My Iraqi friend when questioned about the treatment of dogs in Iraq, replied that dogs are routinely killed. I asked why? He said everyone did it. Funny thing is the Iraqi's children came over when very young, and have become Americanized. He now is faced with his children asking him for a dog, as they said, "Everyone has one". I think they got a cat.

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    1. Sal Culture and religion are intermixed.

      Christian faith made western culture more...empathetic. It took a while but it did. Over time we extended that to just about everything. Americans being a culture from a more Rural back ground while understanding cows, pigs, chickens, and such all die they do it for a purpose and that needless cruelty is evil.

      We Americans are weird but that comes from our culture. Our culture has many good points directly related to the religion that in many ways saved us from becoming another backwards cultural shit hole.

      Culture is a mash up of everything a People experience.

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  21. Ah, but according to the Marxists now running things in this country, it is Judeo-Christian civilization that is fundamentally, inherently wicked, and unjust, and inhumane.

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  22. You do understand that there is a religious component in all this. Muslims consider dogs to be vermin; basically because Mohammed didn't like dogs and said numerous hadeeth demonizing dogs. And that's why Muslims treat dogs in the same way we would treat rats or cockroaches. And that is also why guard dogs were involved in the abuse of those undoubtedly completely innocent Arab detainees at Abu Ghraib -- because the dogs would be doubly terrifying to a Muslim

    I note that all the incidents of animal cruelty described in the story involved dogs. Did the author ever see any cruelty against any other creature, like a cat or a donkey? That's not a rhetorical question; I'm genuinely curious

    Anonymously Yours,
    Calllmelennie

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    1. Yes, I did see severe beatings administered to donkeys and camels--as well as women and children. I don't remember seeing cats in Pakistan; I am sure they were there but I don't remember.

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    2. When I was a kid, I remember watching an adult use a hot glue gun to stick flies to index cards. He thought it was hilarious. And I thought that was a sign of a messed-up individual. If you're going to kill flies, swat them. If you're going to kill mice, use a snap trap that kills instantly. Vermin or not, enjoying causing something else to suffer is a sign of dangerous miswiring in the head.

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  23. Even in the west brutalizing animals use to be common. It is not just a eastern thing.

    My grandfather would tell me about the times he would crack kittens heads for fun.

    Humans start to feel empathy only when they become part of a wealthy society, regardless of what culture they come from

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    1. And yet Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism, which originated when nearly everyone was poor, teach empathy and oppose cruelty. So I think that although you have a point you overstate it.

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    2. No dude your grandfather was just a fucked up individual. Some people just lack any sense of empathy. When a CULTURE encourages this shit thats when there is a problem.

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    3. Agreed. Farm-bred people have a more utilitarian disposition toward domestic animals, but that's distinct from cruelty.

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  24. The author says: " I glared at him, but successfully fought my urge to pull out the JC Higgins and empty it into his stupid smiling face. I don't think I would have thrown up." - showing either exaggerated love for animals over people, or, stylized prose. Either way not a stable or reliable commentator. In fact, Pakistan has less violent deaths per capita than the USA, see: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/violence/by-country/ (5.0 for Pak vs 6.0 for the USA). Enjoy your animal rights. No I'm not Muslim, bye.

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  25. http://www.unodc.org/documents/data-and-analysis/statistics/GSH2013/2014_GLOBAL_HOMICIDE_BOOK_web.pdf

    This is a much more credible source that contradicts your assertion and clearly shows that Pakistan has twice the murder rate of the U.S.

    BTW, I'm not muslim either. I love dogs and I would have wanted to shoot the guard. A dog has more love,honor, and loyalty than most humans.

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