Brownie and the Dark Side of the Neighborhood

Brownie and the dark side of the neighborhood

I tried to be a good mother to the dogs, who make me often feel more worth. Just feeding them, cleaning behind them, and allowing them to be part of the royalty, has always been more than enough for the dogs to give me this unbelievable look of loyalty and gratitude that never change, even in my worse situations, which are many …
This time I was preparing their things to go for the weekend in Jericho. Jericho is a great outing for both of them, with plenty of space, even though with a lot more restrictions because of my mother’s rules. Like most Muslim people, my mother has a problem with having a dog, something we grow up living with. It took me years to accept the fact that the kids can have a dog, and many to get used to them around. Something about how we grow up believing in things is so stuck like parasites in our brains that even common sense is refused in such cases. It is haram to have a dog inside the house because it is impure. Nothing can change this idea, even when you argue with people with their basic ideas, bringing proof from the same source they claim they build up their beliefs.
But a dog issue is a minor issue, in the whole set up of fixed notions that have nothing maybe with the reality of it, but is stuck to us as part of our identities and beings.
I was getting the dogs out to the car when they both went down to the side road, something they usually do when we walk them. I was closing the doors getting ready to go when I called them, and they both disappeared. I was mad, of course, called, and they were no place to be seen. Usually, I use this simple radar observation with them; I allow them a certain range to move, and as lousy as I am, I expect them to get it. Which they usually do, unless, for a simple fact, I keep missing. Living in such a place.
I went around the usual search, I called, and I waited. When, after a short while, Zoe came back alone? A serious, angry search from my side with yelling in brownies name started and included going down that “ forbidden” neighborhood down.
Am ore intensive search occurred when my daughter joined me, which took hours of driving around calling and asking people if they saw a dog.
Somewhere, the search for brownie each time he is missing took the shape of ridiculous form. People even know him.
In a normal place, the dog just too a quick loop with his fellow dog, and he was supposed to come back and not be dragged. Brownie is a sweet, very lightweight terrier. He is harmless and defenseless. Through the experience of being kidnapped, he apparently developed a technique of “nonviolence” approach that practically saved him. The moment you approach him, he gives you his hand in a charming manner that you cannot but retreat from harming him. You hold him, and he shows no sign of resistance, knowing that he cannot run too far, and his teeth and barking won’t save him. So he is a straightforward target.
Unlike Zoe, who would keep barking and threatening until the one opposite him realized that he only barks. It is practically difficult to hold him because he is heavier, and to his luck, he freaks out. Zoe is a product of abandoned dogs, which feels always threatened with being abandoned again. He was abandoned twice before we adopted him, and dealing with him is not a surprise. Zoe is that kind of dog that you really need to know to love him. You end up falling in love with him.
After doing my chorus with the search, I cruelly left to Jericho with Zoë. Believing that he was kidnapped, and it will be shortly sold if he is lucky. Usually, he is lucky. He is the desired dog breed.
Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time to wonder why someone would need to steal a dog to sell it to someone who ordered a stolen dog when they can go to the shelter full of good dogs waiting for a family. I cannot understand how someone is ready to pay maybe even more to a stolen dog suffering indoor to make this dog happy.
Apparently, the whole process has nothing to do with the dog but with the buyer’s attitude in trying to satisfy his own stupidity in owning a dog. As if dogs only exist through thieves.
Yesterday, we decided to do another search in the lower neighborhood.
I went with the girls, started asking around every person moving and walking in the street, showing the dog’s photo. Many of the kids know him, and two decided to help. Thirteen years old, probably with the other who used to come and ask if he can walk the dogs, and I used to allow him with his friends after chatting with them and giving them sweets and pens and some toys they chose from my children’s abandoned books and toys. Somehow, for such a time…
Was it a search for brownies or a search inside a hideous neighborhood? It is called the “tanks” neighborhood, and no wonder why. As the dug-in, narrow, mostly unpaved streets kept opening up in the spaciousness of what used to be a meadow and closed with the 443 street. What we call the settlement road was built to connect Jerusalem with Telaviv on the 67 borders. A separate and isolated road completed some villages and wiped away many of the lands in Beit Hanina and Shufat until Ramallah.
Houses were a mixture of real tank roofs and new buildings, which I later remembered that I witnessed a demolition in that area some years ago. The number of children on the roads was the only reminder that families might be living in such a trashy condition. Where are they a mixture of Bedouins and tank sellers? Apparently, it was just a neighborhood with a mixture of people who voluntarily became the dark side of a society or were forced to.
The deeper we went in that neighborhood, the more hideous it felt. I once heard that it was a neighborhood allowed for former outlaws and collaborators, which included less than a handful of families. But apparently, that wasn’t all true. Thousands of families seem to be living there, with children outnumbering cats and dogs. This is an area that a cat and a dog cannot compete with the viciousness of children. As I was telling my daughters, maybe brownie is happy here after all. One of my daughters reminded me that with such faces, they definitely torture him. One of my greatest fears always.
Each time these children stand next to our home entrance and start barking back to the dogs inside, and their attempts to jump in and take them or beat them always scared me. A place where I never stop thinking of why. Strolling in that neighborhood yesterday made me fully understand. Children down there live worse than dogs. Seeing brownie and Zoë inside our entrance makes them probably envious of life and attention they don’t understand. And attempting to harm or steal or hit an animal makes them victorious over something.
As our attempts to find brownie are still on and probably everyone in the surrounding neighborhood knows we are looking for him, I hope he will appear again with another story as before…
But yet. The existence of such a neighborhood, which seems to be there in every neighborhood. This leveling of the neighborhood, an upper higher class and a lower low class that becomes so low go underground.


  1. Nadia, there is kindness and compassion in the way you write. I admire the way you have retained your gentleness despite being surrounded by bitterness and hatred. I am not a religious person, but I hope my thoughts somehow support you and keep you safe.

  2. I like the way you wove this story and the compassion you bring to your conclusion. It is sad Brownie has wandered away, but your understanding and observations about those children’s dark childhood shows a deeper love and pain.

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