Imagine what it would be like to live in a world where no Bali dogs exist, especially when they have existed for so long, living side by side with Bali people.
Dogs are human companions, growing and nurturing together, there is no doubt about that. But with people and technology growing so rapidly, aligned with increasingly unreasonable fearful creations, dogs are cast aside, left adrift and afraid. It’s too bad that people are not getting smarter with their smarter phones, just one click away from becoming mindful or one swipe away from being totally misinformed.
Some lucky Bali dogs are living with even luckier people. Some free spirited unions. Dog’s fortunate to be running on beaches or mountains or village streets. But some are taken for the delicacy of fueling adrenaline, others suffer with their breaking breath on the side of the road……….waiting. Like the cycle of human life, they are having their moment. It’s their journey.
Some of us are really fighting for them, appreciating their existence, acknowledging their sentience. Preparing nice meals, giving warm snuggles, taking them off unkind streets, treating their wounds and keeping them as family. Kind people do exist, but they are beyond the spotlight or hiding behind a curtain. But there are generous amounts of them, growing and spreading around the island.
Some others are just being unreasonable; trying to dominate the world, thinking that they are kings, making decisions that create suffering. They treat Bali dogs as nothing more than rubbish, enjoying the killing spree, being gluttonous after their flesh. These people are not many, but their misdeeds have been disseminated around the globe, making the whole island look nasty, all because of destructive human elements, dominant feelings and the fear of being killed by something so much weaker. We have no idea how useless humans are without tools. We cannot fight back with just our thumbs or dull teeth.
But Bali dogs have their own way. They continue to fight wholeheartedly, even after surviving so many trials of domination by humans. They are killed and beaten and eaten but they hold on. No matter how many are down, they are persistent in their pursuit to survive. This war will never end if we are still living with this unreasonable fear of them.
So let’s take the dominance into a whole other perspective.
Being dominant over Bali dogs, meaning we are in charge of their well-being. With them being dependent on us, us dependent on them. We nurture each other. Take care of them and treat them well. Protect them, promote them and preserve them.
They will just breathe, will just be. In doing so, they will have succeeded in surviving human’s misinterpreted ego, in breaking the dominance in a non-dog world.
Sitting with a very wise young Balinese man a few days ago, we watched in delight as his dogs did what dogs indigenous to the Island of Bali have instinctively done for thousands of years. Barking, practice fighting, eating, sleeping, barking, practice fighting, eating, sleeping, and repeat again. But it must be said, having been told on good authority, that Bali dogs are very lazy, just like Bali people. Having lived with Bali dogs, we can certainly attest that this observation is to be true, canine wise.
Finding a pack of Bali dogs in a jungle setting with a hierarchy of command was certainly a bonus on an unexpected visit. Realizing that they cohabit with a young family who are determined to keep everything as traditional as possible was a very heart-warming experience. In a rapidly changing environment, they are attempting to recreate the old in present modern day Bali Island form. To retain as much as possible of their forebears teachings but to be realistic and aware enough to realize that so much of the past is slipping rapidly, being swallowed and reconstituted into the new materialistic that is consuming their Island home.
Bali people have their own interpretations and versions of love when it comes to feelings for their dogs. Like so much of everywhere, myth and miscommunication, not to mention arrogance, shrouds the fact that the reality is not so different in general actioned love. Their dogs are fretted over, worried about, frustrated by and cursed at, an awful lot.
With a retro progressive philosophy this small group is attempting to action the best practices of and from the past to create a better life in the present world they now inhabit.
They observe correctly that the planet is at a tipping point, that the point of no return may already have passed and that Bali is a daily micro reflection of that crisis. They regard the obvious danger to the Bali dog, through rampant material globalization and unfettered greed, as just one of many dangers to their culture and ancient way of life. Their decision to continue with mainly having Bali dogs is their small way of honouring the line and creating ongoing balance and harmony.
It is indeed an honour to know them.
The hope that consumption of Bali Dog as a protein alternative, to let’s say chicken, pig, duck or fish, would cease overnight on the back of Government say so, was always going to be unlikely. Unfortunately for those who consider the practice of eating dog to be abhorrent, no other time than yesterday is acceptable. A complete unmitigated non-negotiable state of cease and desist is how it must be.
A cease and desist order will be the only legally binding and enforceable way. But unfortunately the law, historically and universally, is a very well proven ass indeed. Directing someone in an industry that obviously has a market demand, to stop engaging in such an activity, can only happen with legally serious levels of power. That hasn’t happened as of yet and the jury is still very much out and absent. In regards to if such a judgement will ever happen or not, hope springs eternal in the minds of optimists.
So where does emotion and pragmatism sit on the dog eating dirt track. It certainly stirs the gastric juices of those in the emotional camp; those who see a fur covered sentient being as no different to a hair covered one. In fact, many on that side give much more credence of rights and favour to our four legged friends, over our two legged relatives. To those who connect with canines the very thought of them being consumed like some cheap source of sustenance is beyond criminal, its complete and moral madness. It’s a heinous crime, punishable upon those in the trade serving a sentence by being slowly beaten, while forcibly ‘encouraged’ into consuming bits of their own flayed flesh. It’s a level of distain that verges on fundamentalist rage and fury. It’s a very stand-alone fervour and distinctly very separate from other animal welfare issues. Their voices are loud and in their opinion their way is the only right way.
At the other end of the track the unemotional pragmatists set up camp. It’s an animal that can be eaten like any other animal. There are humans who demand it for food and they have a preference for dog meat as an alternative or option to other animal based protein options. It’s a business that brings in money that provides a quality of life versus none or very little chance of human survival. It’s not at all personal, it’s a job like any number of jobs and it’s simply a means to an end. The need to feed and provide a family with security in a non-welfare state reality, far outweighs the welfare and security of canine sentience.
But then unfortunately there’s the method of dog meat preparation. Live capturing beating binding skinning boiling, unarguably torturing, is beyond any leeway that could ever possibly be afforded those involved in the trade.
Bali Dog welfare has a slippery history of warfare, a lot of it involving foreigners berating Balinese for their perceived and proven cruelty. The subject of dog consumption is certainly not a divider of cultural difference. The majority of Bali people are also reviled by the thought of and actual reality of their dog being consumed as a relatively cheap and common source of food.
Politicians are actually people; admittedly they appear to be generally unique to their trade and not seen as readily given to emotion and compassion when it comes to animal rights and welfare. Force from outside sources can only do so much when brought to bear on or against an internal sovereign political system. Diplomatic sensitivity cannot be overstated when it comes to internal cultural context, even if those cultural norms do not sit easily with the cultural anomaly of dog meat consumption, yet still appear to politically condone it.
The foreign movement must now shift to a local position of support, encourage, educate, protect, promote, preserve. From a theory where Bali people work toward their future version of reality, taking the best of foreign learning, adapting their historical cultural norms and shaping what they want for their dog from the democratic Bali style demands they place on their politicians.
Only then, emotionally and pragmatically, will the eating of Bali Dog meat be beat.
As the battle against trading in dog meat for consumption continues as it should. As the push for laws against cruelty go on as they should. As educational encouragement surrounding protection promotion and preservation rolls on as it does. Let’s take some time to actually see what is good and positive about life for the Bali Dog.
Dusk and dawn would be the perfect generalized name for Bali Dogs, for it is during these times of the day when they are most active. In villages and outer ring areas away from built up Bali modernity, Bali people and their dogs mingle at sunrise and sunset. This gathering is not done for any other purpose than it’s just done, been done that way for, well basically forever. If you really want to see the dance of dog and people these are the times, especially in the afternoon/evening long shadow duration. In the fading light, colours are delightfully muted, throwing a scene where dogs and people combine in a complete tapestry of Bali and all her colours.
Here, during those periods, life for dog and people is just a normal cycle of get up and move and get back and relax. The afternoon shift from hot to evening cool, brings families and dogs onto the streets and roads, setting up a scene to those who are unaware, of what appears to be uncontrolled chaos, nothing could be further from the truthful reality.
This is the time when Bali is just doing what it has historically always done, people and dogs doing people and dog stuff together in a parallel dance of separateness. There are duties and jobs to be done during this period and with generational regularity an expectation of performance is simply adhered to, unspoken yet silently knowing.
It’s getting very tight around there, seriously very squeezy. From outside in and inside out, tourist infiltrated infected areas are imploding and bulging in ever increasing gasps of hyperinflation and severe suffocation.
And as if it’s just another normal day, Bali dogs and Bali people just go about their business, attempting to adapt and flow with it all. But it’s the older beings, dog and people, who are struggling of course. The change to their environment has been progressively rapid and chaotically brutal. Watching old Bali dogs and old Bali people shuffle and amble on and off streets and paths where death can and does happen at any given moment, is all at once humbling and gut wrenching.
They are the images of a very long bygone era. Yet they are still visions what Bali holds on to, still living and breathing, through fumes and chemical pollution. The younger Bali canines and Bali humans are hybrids, mixing and synchronizing into fast paced survivors, bringing the Island into a modern portrait of chaotic movement mayhem and crunch. This is modern present Bali, it’s not good bad or indifferent, it just is.
Yet the past still exists, for now. Of course that will also change; there is no escape from that. But for now, out and away from the bulge and bluster, life for those old dogs and people remains as stable and as serene as life in a Bali village can be. Even the young and upcoming new versions have a less cacophonous introduction to what will eventually swamp them.
So for those who are bent in such a way that excitement is generated from seeing and observing Bali dogs and Bali people doing what they have always just simply done. Get out there; get away from the inner, go to the outer. To those village environments, places and spaces, still open to flow and expansion, not crunch and constriction.
There may come a time in the not too distant future when the Bali Dog becomes such a rarity that their memory will be consigned to some historical documents. Or they may only be seen in some zoo like sanctuaries that will evolve into skanky touristy tackiness. Or they could actually out survive a human driven global event leaving them to feed on the rotting corpses of our failed folly. The thought of Bali Dogs getting fat and overpopulated on the backsides and entrails of humans seems rather fitting and very ironic.
More probable is the reality that they will continue to retreat from the plague that’s infesting their Island home, an unstoppable reality that’s consuming all in its path, a pathogen that’s causing ongoing irreversible damage to their natural habitat. At least Rabies wasn’t personal and a vaccine against its virulence was effective and successful. There really are no effective or successful antidotes for and against the globalized bacterium infection that humans have unleashed.
But for now consider an unavoidable scenario where humans make the ultimate sacrifice completely against their selfish will and gluttonous want. Having pushed too far, pulled too hard and destroyed ourselves, we are left at the mercy and whim of those we have shat upon.
On behalf of all those who continue to be aghast at the continuing destructive nature of our very own species and in what can only be guessed could be in the minds of Bali Dogs.
Go On and Just Grin.
With a recent announcement handed down from the Governor of Bali, a large bite has been chomped off the hand of those who supply dog meat and from the taste buds of those who choose to consume dog flesh. Its paper decree that the practice cease, is a leap in the right direction and the signal sent is to be thoroughly and whole heartedly celebrated.
There is no doubt the announcement will be exhaustively and minutely scrutinised to the fullest extent. There will be debate argument and disagreement about legalities and intentions. There will be many who see it as nothing more than a toothless paper tiger, a threatening piece of political propaganda, ineffectual and self-serving. In the end they may be proved right but an awful lot can happen between now and many endings.
The Bali Dog has been thrust into an International view and that’s huge. Their survival has been hopefully extended on the wave of awareness. Their incredible suffering on that level has hopefully been eradicated.
From where the Bali Dog currently sits in the scheme of reality on Bali all news is good news. It’s of course completely unrealistic to think this announcement will be the panacea for all issues. Completely naïve to believe that motivation will drive good intent and outcome.
But for now the Bali Dog has a small window of opportunity to be just a dog on an Island, a sentient being, free from fear and suffering.
And for that, they are a flickering flame for the millions of other beings whose sentience is abused second by minute by hour by day.
For the small number of foreigners who have undoubtedly attempted, in their own way, to make the lives of Bali Dogs better, there are millions over the years whose mere presence has done absolutely nothing for the wellbeing and welfare of the Island Dog. The unquestionable fact is that now more than ever before, nothing remains untouched by foreign influence under the paws of this ancient dog. Every facet of this unique canine’s existence has been changed by foreigners.
It wasn’t those first second or even third generation visitors who set the grinding greed machine in motion, but unfortunately they told others about paradise and its uniqueness. About a sea locked Island that held mystery, mythology, Hindu Gods, welcoming people and free roaming dogs.
None of us as Bule foreigner or albino are innocent when it comes to how existence for the Bali Dog has been degraded and literally downgraded to basically mongrel status. Even with the best intention and wholehearted effort, the status for a dog that was forever part of the picture, is now being smudged out and erased bit by bit as each day goes by and as foreigner arrivals explode. Foreign dogs now plague the Island in more and more ridiculous numbers and lurid variation. Many are nothing more than money making womb factories.
Denying our individual responsibility and blaming others wont and hasn’t helped. The blame game has emanated from an origin of frustration which is very understandable but sadly misses the point, is unfortunately very unhelpful and quite frankly is in danger of creating an ugly no win combative situation that only serves humans not dogs.
For the Bali Dog there are only a few outcomes that are now totally dependent on the intentions reactions and ultimate actions of the human element. Unfortunately history to date hasn’t proven to be a favourable indicator and the dog is probably in a more precarious position now, than pre Bule infiltration/invasion.
There are many more representatives in the Bali Dog business these days than ever before, and the competing interests are always by their very nature at risk of sending out confusing messages rather than a clear concise “all for one and one for all” mentality in action. Protecting rather than saving, promoting instead of rescuing, preserving not pontificating.
It’s probably completely unrealistic to get all interested parties in one room, unfortunately so. But it shouldn’t be, seriously shouldn’t be, should it? But there are just more than a few pieces missing before that puzzle can ever be contemplated.
Bali Dogs and Bali People didn’t have problems or issues before Bule involvement, not as is now being increasingly witnessed on a daily basis. Foreigner effect has affected that relationship beyond belief and pushed it far beyond anything that was once upon a time recognisable. Balinese people are not beyond guilt, far from it. However in cultural context, their awareness of their dog in ‘historical time place’ is understandably skewed by blind familiarity. ‘You don’t know what you always have when you always have it’.
Why do Bali people have dogs? Do they have any problems with their dogs? What do they want for their dog? What does their dog mean to them?
The answers may not be what is wanted or expected, there may be no answers at all. But unless the opportunity is put up, then any chance of meeting somewhere in the middle may as well be put down for ever more.
It was the Balinese who let the Bules in, welcomed them in, in what was a very different paradigm. The balance has swung wildly resulting in a foreign based progressive aggressive paradigm. Its impact leaving what was an ancient stable relationship tattered and torn in its unemotional wake.
It’s every ones fault that the Bali Dog is threatened. It’s time to work it out by asking simple open questions not continuing to blow it up with confronting complex answers.
For the greater good.
It’s unclear if recent exposure afforded the long suffering Bali Dog will end up enhancing their claim for laws designed to protect their welfare. Or given the endless issues facing rapidly developing Indonesia, drive their class of 2017 into the great melting pot of relative unimportance.
The great thing about dogs generally, they’re not political egotistical or pathological, they don’t fit in with such human natured terms. Bali Dogs for those who regard them as great are indeed in an elite class, smarter than the average canine. Ergo they should be afforded at the very least the same basic equivalent rights of welfare that an average canine gets elsewhere, right?
Well, it really becomes a dog’s breakfast with human ingredients at this very point. If we stroll down this sodden well-trodden ‘Western’ path going in feet first, then free roaming paws on the pavement are first on the canine casualty list to be ticked off. Registration of pet ownership, capping their numbers and rounding up all stray free roaming and unwanted dogs, will tick off the testy bulky middle issues. Placing them in holding pounds with limited retrieval periods before euthanasia, will round off the list nicely and lock the policy right in. Sound familiar.
There is already a back lash of vitriol against Bali and Bali people by association abounding on social media in reaction to humans being offered meat of dog. If closing down the meat trade happens by shock exposure then the end justifies the means. If however it drives the practice underground, places local Island people in a bad light and politicizes the general matter, then the Bali Dog will suffer more than it ever has before.
If the Bali Governor in his wisdom decides that his Government would be much better served in following the foreign model to the letter of its well established law.
Then the first dog to suffer the most will be the most vulnerable dog of all, the most free roaming ‘stray’ of all, the dog of all dogs. Rounded up if not registered, kicked out if over limit within compound capping, placed in holding pounds and if not collected within a man dated time frame, then euthanized humanely.
Then sold for human consumption?
Very recently conditions transpired in an ordered way to thrust the Bali Dog into an International point of view. It turned out to be an unpalatable price to pay, however it was long overdue and certainly long due to be over.
Bali Street Dogs prepared for human consumption were the words that lit the fuse of fury that subsequently ignited the bomb of indigestion and indignation. For such an ancient dog it was yet another final, on a growing line of very long finals that it has faced down and snarled back at.
Bali Dogs are Bali Dogs no matter their location on Bali. Unfortunately though, rather than the majestic breed recognised Kintamani Dog being trussed prepped and served up, it was their lowly underlings that were easy pickings.
There are many unseen unheard humans who have screamed from the wings. Voicing not only the uniqueness of yet another endangered animal, but also urging an expanded awareness on the position of a dog in one of Earths remaining ancient cultures.
The Bali Dog street version has suffered greatly. Bali People have also suffered greatly. Their ancient relationship with their dog has been turned upside down, slammed against a wall and forcibly altered in ways that are reflected in rampant and irreversible change. The old familiar relationship is gone, replaced with a new foreign influenced invasion.
The latest exposure has the chance to bring balance back to a bond that reaches back to a time before there was time to think about time. It also has the possibility of dividing and blaming and that would be a waste of time and opportunity.
Now is the time to reignite, reinvigorate, regain and recognise. Now is the time to protect a cultural union, promote an endangered species and preserve a history that can only be spoken by Bali People and expressed by Bali Dogs.