Maybe you were not one of the people who asked someone like me about the differences we have experienced living here as foreigners. As an international student from Iran, there are some things that I would like people to know. So here I am writing about dogs. Dogs that I’ve seen. At homes, in the street, in cars, in parks, also on the TV–they are everywhere. Well, I personally dislike dogs, but yet I find them worthy of being observed.

In these two years, I have seen many dogs. Bushy ones, big ones, small ones, in a variety of colors. All of them domesticated. Their owners value them as pets, and they value their owners. They bark not, unless to an outsider that they don’t know. Well-trained, well-fed, and obedient, wagging their tails, ready to be entitled as “Good boy.”

Once in a while though, some tougher ones thirst for disobedience, taking pride in showing their teeth as a sign of rebellion; yet surprisingly enough, their owners seem to not be bothered by this arrogance. Knowing their morality, they calmly take control, leash them, and pet them. Leashed in soft and colorful ribbons, brushed and cleaned, they play with their toys which their owners provide them.

Dogs here get to be owners–owning toys.

I’ve even seen them sitting on couches and watching TV. Watching and acting as if they were conscious and aware, as if they could analyze, as if they could understand. Most interesting of all, they have even been given rights. Rights which are called “Animal Rights.” Indeed! What an appealing and happy life for a dog this is. What does a pet need more than this?

What I’ve seen here is not what I saw in my hometown, Tehran, though. It is intriguing to compare the dogs here and those I’ve seen in my hometown. Though they are the same animals, they have radically different attitudes.

Where I’m from, pet culture is something mostly unheard of. Animals like dogs wander around free with their tongues sticking out and their ribs showing through their skin. They seem hungry, diseased and are suffering.

They are wild, unclaimed, or maybe unwanted. They haven’t been owned and they haven’t owned anything. It’s dangerous to get too close to them: they bite, no matter what. It is normal for people to throw rocks at them, and at the least they get shooed with the “rock picking fake.”

They are in a state of distrust–distrust of everything including themselves. There wouldn’t seem to be any reason to blame them for being cynical, and refusing of help.

Someday, dogs in my hometown might give up their wildness and cynicism. They might trust. Trust in domesticity and obedience. Then they can achieve their rights. Rights of being true pets.

Mohammad Rasoulipour is a third year Art and Bible, Religion and Philosophy major from Iran.