Dogs and cats are a big deal here in America, but this view isn’t shared across the world. In some places, they’re revered and worshiped, and in other places they’re simply tolerated. Sometimes even shunned. Here’s a look at how other America’s favorite pets are viewed across the world…
Every year Nepal holds Tihar, the annual “Festival of lights.” This five-day event stemming from Hinduism serves to celebrate and recognize the relationships that benefit humanity. Thanks to their role as protectors and their fame in religious texts, dogs get an entire day of Tihar that’s devoted to canine appreciation. They’re adorned with garlands and marked with tika to show their significance and express devotion. A beautiful sight that compliments the full bellies of food offerings quite well.
Fly off to India, and dogs will be everywhere. While the majority of them would be classified as strays, locals do their part to care for them by offering food and water. The number of strays and the incidence of rabies is a growing problem in India, but cultural views and religious beliefs maintain a level of respect for local canines. Feel free to share your leftovers, but you may not want to pet every dog you meet…
The Middle East
If you’re hoping to bring your pup a little sweater souvenir from Saudi Arabia, it won’t be happening. Dogs have a dirty reputation in many Middle Eastern countries because of religious beliefs. Many people see dogs as “impure,” so while some may use them for protection and security, they’re hardly looked at as a part of the family.
Cats are tied to luck, so felines never run short on admiration or appreciation. Head off to Tashirojima for an island adventure, and you’ll find cat shrines and feline-shaped vacation homes. Stay in the city to enjoy the hustle and bustle of Japan, and you’ll find cat cafes that allow you a kitty fix with your caffeine buzz. Some food business are getting in on the feline fun with companies like Pizza Hut making ads starring an all-cat cast. In addition to their acting skills, some furballs are getting public recognition for their business contributions. Tama, the Honorary Stationmaster of Kishi train station,held her position for 8 years and got all the credit for keeping the business afloat. Upon her death, she was celebrated with a funeral boasting 3 thousand attendees, and promoted to “Honorable Eternal Stationmaster” and “Goddess.”
You’ll find plenty of wild pups roaming the streets, but even domestic dogs hardly qualify as “man’s best friend.” Dogs are taken on with a clear purpose, and that centers around security and protection. They’re seldom allowed in the house, and they may not even be given a name, so pampering is virtually non-existent. This may seem harsh compared to the lives of American dogs, but they definitely get more attention than cats. Finding a home with a cat can be the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack.
On the Asian island of Borneo lies the feline-friendly city of Kuching. This “Cat City” is full of art, statues, souvenirs, and attractions that all center around cats. There’s even a museum dedicated to the animal. And if that’s still not catty enough for you, stop by a cat cafe where you can get in some kitty time with your coffee.
The love of animals runs pretty high here in America, and there are plenty of trends and businesses to profit from it. In the case of pet care, owners spend billions on their house pets, and that goes well beyond food. Yoga, massages, spa treatments, and professional grooming and pet pedis can fall under “everyday care.” And while pets can live a posh and pampered lifestyle in America, some animals have actually been put to work. Pets get pretty high recognition when it comes to human well-being, and that’s landed them careers as certified professionals. Schedule an appointment with an animal therapist and you can pour over a book with a reading dog, or learn physical and social skills with a horse. And that’s only the beginning!
Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or pondering up multicultural cheats to happiness, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!