It's something I can't quite get my head around. But since we have a now-quite-giant Giant Schnauzer, we see first hand what many Arabs think of animals.
As a general rule, Jordanians dislike dogs. I see a few families with dogs, mostly small ones, in their homes. But it is quite rare. And when you walk around town with a dog as large as Yogi, it's a definite conversation stopper. Stateside, people approach to pet the dog, or ask about the breed. Here, people cross the street to avoid coming in contact with the beast, who is considered unclean - a little like walking with a stray rat on a leash around your local grocery store would be back home, I suppose.
When Yogi was still a puppy, last fall, we took him to a few of the boys' soccer games. Some of the kids wanted to pet him, but most of the local boys would approach in packs, egging each other on to get closer, closer, closer, until one of them would hiss or jump in an attempt to startle the dog. If the dog reacted, they'd scatter before coming back to try again. It was beyond annoying to have to shoo these boys away.
At one game, Yogi was sitting on the ground, minding his own business, when a woman approached. Problem is, the woman was walking backwards, calling out to a friend, unaware that she was getting close to the dog. When she was a mere couple of feet away, she turned around to find the puppy in front of her, and she leapt backwards, yelping (in fear? disgust? it wasn't clear).
So to say they don't like their dogs here is an understatement.
Yogi is currently spending lots of time in our front yard because the boab planted some grass seed out back. This morning, he was sitting by the gate, just watching the world go by, when four Jordanian women came out of the apartment across the street. They were modestly dressed, middle-aged, covered head to toe except for their faces. They looked like nice enough people from a glance. They had parked their car so that my driveway was blocked, which meant they had to approach my gate in order to get back in their car. They were maybe 5 feet away from the dog, who saw them coming and stood, tail wagging expectantly.
The women on the passenger side slid along the edge of the car, trying to stay as far from the dog as possible - this even though he was behind a gate, at some distance. They were clearly afraid.
They got in the car and shut the door. That should have been it, right? Nope. As soon as they felt safe in the car, they rolled down the windows and started meowing and hissing at the dog, trying to upset him just like the little boys at the soccer field used to do.
Why? I understand that some people don't like dogs. I get it. But what would possess a grown woman to deliberately attempt to annoy a dog like that? That's something I'll never understand.
We take Yogi for walks around the neighborhood because we want him to get used to all sorts of situations: different people, different smells, traffic, stray cats. We are mindful of the fact that not everyone is going to like him, but we take him nonetheless. When we eventually bring him home to the States, I suspect he'll be baffled when random strangers approach, just wanting to pet him on the snout. There isn't much danger of that happening here.