The Localist

Talking about pets

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If you like animals, you have probably heard of Persia’s* very own ‘Persian cats’. In the midst of tough political discussions, these long-haired, lazy, lovely creatures give Iran a softer image. Yes! We are animal lovers! We don’t forget to feed stray cats and birds during the brutal cold of a Tehran winter.

However, in reality, Persian cats and pet dogs are hardly popular in Iran. Even more surprisingly, taking your dog for a walk is forbidden and your dog may be arrested, and even fined! In Islamic culture dogs are considered dirty. For this reason, the Islamic government of Iran forbids people from keeping dogs as pets. Taking your pet dog out for a simple walk is outlawed! Globalisation, however, is affecting the pet keeping culture. These days, more than ever before, chances are you might spot puppies playing in northern Tehran’s parks.

The most popular pets in Iran at the moment are artificially coloured chicks. How weird! But for us, this makes sense. If you don’t get along well with cats and dogs, you’re better off with chicks, birds and even fish, which are, after all, much less aggressive.

I am also not exaggerating when I say that every single person in Iran has at some stage owned a pet goldfish, if only for 13 days. These vital snappy little creatures are an indispensable part of our New Year celebration. They are a symbol of livelihood! We keep them from the 21st of March (Norooz – Iranian New Year and first day of spring) on our Haftsin table (think xmas tree, Iranian version) until 13 days later, when we all go for a picnic in the middle of nature and some of us leave our goldfish in a river.

All in all, although we may have what seems like an unusual taste for pets, we really do love and respect animals.

*Persia is the former name of Iran

IRAN_ShafaghHelalat_M

 

MEET THE LOCAL: SHAFAGH HELALAT

 

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