I admit, I’m biased. I believe, in the absence of absolute proof, that Jasper is the best dog ever, anywhere. But here’s an episode that perhaps confirms my belief.
I live next door to a lady who moved here from Denver, but whose country of origin is Somalia. She is Muslim, a fact which I did not confirm (although I assumed) until I adopted Jasper in August. At that time, she complimented me on my new puppy, but explained that she could not touch Jasper, especially his mouth. (When I asked, she confirmed, “because of religion.” Her English, while pretty good, is strongly accented, and I like to make sure before I quote her. 🙂
Anyhoo, I found her beliefs about dogs interesting, and I found it posed a small (potential) conundrum for me. What if her two boys, or their cousin, wanted to meet Jasper? Granted, I could fall back on the time-honored “ask your mother” dodge, but seriously, what was my moral obligation? As an agnostic who found most religious pronouncements inexplicable, but an agnostic who wanted to honor other people’s religious pronouncements, what ought I to do?
It became a non-issue, because her kids seemed to be scared of Jasper and would run shrieking if the issue presented itself. It’s kind of funny to find people who are scared of my 16-pound dog, although I suspect they’re actually more concerned about their mother’s reaction than about my dog’s capacity for violence.
Anyhoo, my neighbor (whose name is something like Chukri, which is the correct pronunciation but possibly a wildly incorrect spelling) stopped over the other night to deliver the candy I had ordered from her daughter’s school sale. Latifa [again, a guess based on sound] is a sweet little gal and I’m all about the chocolate, so it was a win-win situation. But there were Chukri and my dog, in the same room, religiously incompatible. Chukri was polite, expressing an appreciation for his cuteness verbally and a desire for separation nonverbally.
You know who was most aware of her body language? Jasper. That little tiny dog, who ordinarily is more social than, I don’t know, Mr. Bean, kept his distance. He looked at her without approaching to sniff, he avoided eye contact, and he watched as she left without crowding the door. Now this is a dog who wants to meet EVERYBODY. People, dogs, cats, even frogs, he wants to approach and usually does so without causing anxiety. (I’m not kidding. He once met a frog who chose NOT to hop away. Imagine. Same deal with a kitten.) But there he was, keeping his distance.
In short, Jasper may be more tolerant of religious difference than I am. He respected, without giving into, religious beliefs that he theoretically isn’t even aware of. Who’s a good puppy? Who? Who? And why won’t the picture of him in a deeply ugly sweater upload?