Malaysia's 'I want to touch a dog' event a big hit with Muslims

Malaysia's 'I want to touch a dog' event a big hit with Muslims

PETALING JAYA - A curious crowd of more than 800 people gathered on Sunday morning for the first-ever "I Want To Touch A Dog" event at the One Utama shopping complex.

Also there at Central Park within the complex were the four-legged "stars" - furry and cuddly with wagging tails.

The event started out as a small get-together for those curious about dogs - in particular to address Muslims' concern about touching them. It turned out to be one of the largest impromptu events, organised in just three weeks.

Half of those present were Muslims, many wearing yellow - the colour that the organiser had designated for those who wanted to touch a dog, with orange for those who only came to watch the animals.

Volunteers and pet owners wore red. The colour codes allowed those present to observe their personal boundaries and to get to know the dogs at their own comfort level.

Present at the event was 23-year-old housewife Fatimah - someone you would not have expected to attend as she was clad in a full black veil with only her eyes visible.

However, Fatimah, a mother of two, moved about confidently among the dogs.

"I came here to learn more about interacting with dogs, about 'samak' and 'sertu' cleansing. I've never done such a thing before," she said with a smile.

The 'pettable' dogs included a purebred sleek-haired Afghan hound, lion-maned Chow Chows, rescue dogs and lovable mutts. Despite their differing appearance, all the dogs were thoroughly vetted by the organisers.

The event started with a religious talk by Ustaz Mohd Iqbal Parjin, 33, a religious teacher and Masters student at UTM's Centre for Advanced Studies on Islam, Science and Civilisation (Casis).

Dog handlers then explained to the crowd on how to approach the animals.

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