When you are living so far from home, you try to find any shred of life that makes you feel at home. A certain brand of peanut butter, music, a DVD of a movie you loved as a teenager, anything.
After nearly a year in Kabul for FOX News, I have tried to "treat" myself whenever I can to keep sane and happy. Afghanistan is a vibrantly rich in culture, so any person from any walk of life would embrace with both arms all she has to offer. Just last week I found the perfect merge of home and Afghanistan.
The winter here has been harsh, the worst in over a decade. Some of the 3.5 million refugees who have returned over the last few years since the Taliban fell have had it tough. Makeshift camps around the capital have seen the worst of it with infants freezing to death in the muddy and horrific squalor.
The Karzai administration has put a commission together to tackle this problem and an aid organization and some U.S. military soldiers have run humanitarian missions to these camps around Kabul.
Tazi Sought U.S. Asylum and Got It
I grew up in Arizona, so to say that I’m a weather wimp is an understatement. Over the last few weeks I’ve had to treat myself even more than past months, and the most recent "treat" has a wet nose.
I’ve been taking Dari lessons (Afghan Farsi language) and asked my teacher if he knew of any Afghan Hounds ("tazi" in Dari) in Kabul. Ironically, I’ve been asking around for several months as this breed is very rare here.
Well, Mamun said that he had a tazi and was going to bring him over to see if we got along. Mamun got him from a relative who breeds fighting dogs and wanted to get rid of the tazi, not the fiercest of canines. He only kept him for a month as his family thought it was not proper for their unwed son to have a pet dog … it’s not culturally acceptable in Afghanistan. For the more devout Muslims, one would have to bathe and change their clothes if one petted a dog before prayer.
So in walks the dog, he was not even close to being a purebred tazi. But after a few hours, it made no matter.
He’s a mutt by any standards; Afghan or American, but what he’s brought to the FOX bureau is a slice of home that was so direly needed in a gloomy Kabul winter.
Tazi trots around the house looking for something familiar and tries to cut out a bit of turf …initially the landing in front of the office and now under my desk.
His snores during the day, rumbling my computer, bring me back to my teenage house in Arizona with our family pooch’s ever-present napping sounds.
The Afghan FOX News staff thinks I’m a bit loony as dogs in Afghanistan fall into very few categories; part of a stray street pack, a fighting dog or a guard dog. Tazi, with no doubt, does not fit into any of the above categories.
I’m not alone in grabbing a pooch as a homey slice of solace. Pam Constable, a Washington Post correspondent formerly based in Kabul, started an animal shelter and vet clinic. Tazi went there on his first trip from his new home, getting a full check up and shots. Pam was actually back in Kabul to check in on the clinic while on vacation from Washington where she now lives.
Pam has also arranged a fast-tract for foreigners wanting to bring adopted pets back home, so Tazi is going to be getting a green card.
I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be out here, but one thing is for sure — Tazi and I will be partners as we both adjust and readjust to living in America.