by Sajjad “Stu” Rahman, Foreign Correspondent
Rockford, IL. January 29. To the casual outsider, America’s most bizarre custom is the barbaric practice of granting animals free range inside the home without any intent of making a meal from their meat or sucking the marrow from their tiny bones. What the denizens of Dhaka call the Elephant Road Beefsteak is stateside likely to retain full control of its central nervous system and be given a pompous name like “Fuzzy” or “Garfield.” These creatures are customarily addressed as gentlemen of good social standing, and are categorized racially as “pets.”
In the last few months, the winds of change have begun their mighty bluster. Threatened with the complete collapse of their nation’s economic infrastructure, the citizens of the United States are scaling back spending on luxury products. The doldrums of money woe have impacted every consumer outlet in America, and the country’s $9.9B pet industry is among the hardest hit.
“We used to sell three dogs a day and maybe six cats,” says Mary Bloenfield, 39, the owner of Kats N Kuddles, a small pet store in Stull, Kansas. “Now we can’t move two animals a week. I don’t know what we’re going to do if these things keep piling up. Maybe eat them.”
While their money disappears, Americans maintain their premium on the horrible ennui of modern existence, a sensation best described in A-Level novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. Social scientists have long theorized that the American love for animals is the product of an emptiness that can be filled by no amount of decadence or sloth.
“People turn to animals because they’re lonely,” says Dr. Ralph Richman, a fully-tenured Professor of Sociology at UMass-Amherst. “The uncritical affection of an animal can lure a person into thinking that their existence maintains a shred of meaning or dignity. People want to own pets, even if they can’t afford them.”
Seeing an opportunity, two Rockford natives have formed a new business offering Americans the chance to adopt Bangladeshis. The two co-founders of Deshi Dogs, Johnny Talukder and Moushum “Moz” Mustakeen, traveled to Bangladesh in early September and secured the necessary business and governmental connections for the weekly importation of Bangladeshis of every shape and size.
Business is brisk. Mustakeen says he and Mr. Talukder encountered skepticism at first. Things turned around after customers saw the lovable round faces and thick noses endemic to Bengalis, and quickly realized that while a dog or a cat might be too expensive, they could own a beast almost as satisfying.
“Look,” says Mustakeen, “I’m not going to lie. They aren’t dogs. They aren’t cats. But Deshis are warm, docile and obey their masters’ commands. They’ll fetch your slippers, bring your paper and cuddle with you all night long. They’re great pets!”
Some early adopters have discovered that owning a Bangladeshi brings unexpected benefits. Ronnie Starewitz, of Hamtramck, MI, one of Deshi Dogs’ first customers, purchased a twenty-seven year old female after a car struck and killed the family cat. His pet, which he named “Kim Kardashian,” has demonstrated the ability to perform simple tasks of addition, subtraction and multiplication.
“I don’t even need a calculator anymore,” says Starewitz. “Kim Kardashian can’t do division, but that’s OK. I didn’t expect anything from her except to play with my kids and maybe chase away intruders, so this has been a nice surprise. The only problem is that she has been thus far very difficult to toilet-train.”
As for Mr. Johnny Talukder and Moushum “Moz” Mustakeen, they plan to expand Deshi Dogs to several new locations, possibly even a retail outlet in the Mall of America.
“The demand for these things is off the chart,” says Talukder. “If things keep up like they are, we’re going to have a real problem. We only bribed enough for 100 people a week. We might have to go back to Bangladesh and meet the new Government.”