Tiny horse trains as guide for blind Muslim woman

A blind Muslim woman whose family objected to having a guide dog in the house is to get a guide horse instead.

She has long yearned for more independence, but a traditional guide dog was never an option. Many Muslims consider dogs unclean, and Miss Ramouni, an observant Sunni, respects her Jordanian-born parents' aversion to having a dog in the family home, where she lives along with three of her six siblings.

Now Mexicali Rose, a 3-year-old former show horse that stands about 2 1/2 feet tall and weighs about 125 pounds, has arrived to help Miss Ramouni.

Before the horse, nicknamed Cali, arrived, "I had basically given up. I mean, I had been to the point where I thought, 'I'm going to get nothing out of my life,"' Miss Ramouni told.

"And having Cali ... showed me that I had forgotten about all the optimism I had as a kid. When I was a kid, I thought I could do anything. I thought everything was possible."

While many Muslims believe dogs can violate ritual purity, horses are seen as "regal animals," Dawud Walid, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relation's Michigan chapter, told.

The horses can live into their 30s, more than twice as long as most dogs, she said.

The horse, who has been trained to get in and out of vehicles, guide through crowds and stand still indoors, is expected to take up residence in a newly erected shed on the family's lawn within the next two months.

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