CHALDEAN DOGS_Bentley&Jennifer

A Chaldean’s Best Friend

More families are bringing dogs into the family fold

By Avery McGowan

Throughout the Chaldean community, pets often get mixed reviews. Traditionally, back in Iraq, cats and dogs were usually found outside and viewed as stray, dirty animals. Since coming to America, and passing down generations, this viewpoint has shifted.

When Ban Kizy was young, her mother said she could have a pet when she owned her own home. Unfortunately, her husband wasn’t keen on dogs either. After having twin girls, Ban and her husband were unable to have more children and felt that something was missing. She took it upon herself and surprised the family with a Golden Doodle named Louie, and the rest is history.

Her 9-year-old daughters, Ella & Reese, love their little “brother” and have learned a great sense of responsibility by taking care of him. “What I love most about my dog is hard to explain,” said Kizy.  “It is an unconditional love like I have for my own daughters. He gives me and my family so much love every day. He just wants to cuddle with us and spend time with us.”

Of course, pets come with maintenance, which Kizy says can become time-consuming and expensive. Her biggest concern is finding the perfect care for Louie, while they are away, as they enjoy traveling. Since bringing Louie into the family, Kizy has also been able to change her parent’s perspective on pets. “At first they were outraged and disgusted upon finding out about Louie, ” said Kizy.  “Now, they pet him and wanted to feed him Kabob and Kubba every time they see him.”

Being a true animal lover, Dr. Marisa Abbo and her husband Carlos brought Mabel into their home in 2004. As dachshund lovers, they felt both the breed and the name they chose fit perfectly.  “She is my four legged furry ‘child’ as I do not have children of my own, and is the greatest joy in my life,” said Abbo. “She comes to all family functions.  My parents are her biggest fan and love having her over at their house.”

When visiting her “grandparents”, or the “spa” as they call it, Marisa’s mother spoils Mabel by cooking special food for her, massaging her and taking her for walks. But like the true princess Mabel is, Marisa’s father even takes Mabel on car rides around the neighborhood. When asked what Marisa loves about Mabel, her response is that people love Mabel simply for who she is. “I love that almost everyone smiles, laughs, or has a positive response or memory when they see Mabel, ” said Abbo. “She brings joy just by being her own little sweet self.  I also believe that dogs are God’s gift to us to show what unconditional love is.  I get treated like a rock star every time I walk in the door.”

Similar to Kizy, Abbo also struggles the most with scheduling. As her “child”, Abbo’s top priority is making sure that Mabel is cared for when she is not home. To help the busy doctor out, that’s where Mabel’s grand-dog parents come in.

Named after the famous vehicle, Bentley, a Chihuahua mix, wasn’t the apple of his owner’s eye at first. Before getting a dog, Jennifer Dickow didn’t like animals due to the Chaldean culture, and snubbed Bentley for many months. But one day, their eyes met and something happened. “There is something about a dog looking at you- they do it with such love and trust that you can’t help but fall in love with these 4-legged angels,” said Dickow.  From that moment, she was hooked. Like Abbo, Dickow sees Bentley as her child, as she has none of her own. Dickow pays more attention to Bentley’s food ingredients than her own and even pushes Bentley in a stroller.

“Bentley has hit the lottery- going from a rescue dog that was abused in a cage to the lap of luxury,”  said Dickow.  What Dickow loves most about Bentley is that no matter how long she is away, he is always excited to see her. She loves driving home and knowing that when she enters the door, Bentley is going to be excited to see her. Comically, Bentley also enjoys getting on the floor and doing stretches with Dickow after working out. Dickow couldn’t be happier seeing Chaldean’s becoming more accepting of dogs.

“Bentley is now responsible for one Chaldean recruit getting her first dog, ” explained Dickow. “I was brought up to fear them and think that they were dirty animals. Nothing could be further from the truth. What I have learned is they are so sweet and loving and will sit by your side all day long and be the best company you can ask for. Chaldean’s need to spend time around dogs and see how gentle and loyal they are.”