Speaking of dogs, I had a real epiphany (light bulb moment), while vacationing in Koh Libong, a small tropical island in Southern Thailand. Most of the people who live on this island are Malay Muslim; outside of the three small Muslim fishing villages, the island is relatively unpopulated.
While visiting two of the villages closest to my hotel, I found it be somewhat peculiar that I did not encounter any dogs. Cats on the other hand were a dime a dozen - it seemed that almost every household in the village had at least one or two.
Later on, I discovered there were five relatively mangy dogs that were kept as “pets” at the neighboring Libong Beach resort. I stayed at Le Dugong Beach Resort. Outside of these five dogs, I believe there was not a single other dog on the island.
Reflecting on the absence of dogs on Koh Libong, I thought about my prior trips to Malaysia – a Muslim nation state in Southeast Asia - and to a number of islands in Southern Thailand which were predominantly Muslim. Strangely, I recall not seeing any dogs on these excursions as well.
Ah hah, I said to myself, there must be some taboo about dogs in Muslim Culture. Sure enough - after doing some research online, I discovered that in Islam, dogs are considered unclean and unhygienic, and it is forbidden to keep them as pets. Cats - on the other hand - are welcomed as pets in Muslim Culture.
Admittedly, I am very fond of dogs - while I may not agree with this particular attitude towards dogs, as a traveler and an open minded person, I have learned to respect cultural differences.
By the way, the management and owner of Dugong Beach resort are Buddhists and are not part of the indigenous Malay population of Southern Thailand