Sunday, January 31, 2010
An askal is a street dog (asong kalye) in the Philippines. Filipinos first got their reputation as dog eaters of askals because of the Igorots, a brave tribal group in Benguet where ironically, dogs are still eaten in some areas today (although the dog trade is illegal in the Philippines).
Askals have for a long time been considered inferior to pure breeds. They were also deemed inferior to mutts that came from two pure breeds. Askals are often considered as the “poor man’s dog”.
Physically, Askals resemble the Canaan dog of Israel which is Israel’s national dog, although with some variation (since askals are mixed dogs themselves). They also resemble the Carolina dog of the United States.
These days, people are speaking out on behalf of askals, which for too long were deliberately tied all day to a short chain so they’d be angry and distrustful, making them efficient guard dogs of family homes.
Thanks to publications like Animal Scene in the Philippines, and groups like the Animal Kingdom foundation (AKF) and PAWS, askals are gaining recognition for their engaging personalities and amazing intellect, and are being gradually mainstreamed.
Being the proud owner of two askals and a schnoxie (half mini doxin, half mini schnauzer) I can say that a dog’s potential, like a child’s, will grow dependent on how they are raised by their human.
The story of askals is not unlike many stories of human civilizations and races that may have served some societies well, but were for a time underappreciated and ill treated, nonetheless. The most widely known example of this was the African American race in the United States, whose intellectual and artistic contributions to the wealth of the world was long underappreciated. But today, the United States has its first black president in Barack Obama.
What has been commonly said these days is that gays are the new black. Personally, being a Christian, I sometimes wonder if Christians are the new black. That would put us and gays in the same league and perhaps, lend us a common talking point, which need not necessarily be a bad thing.