Something happens when you’re around street dogs. No matter their nationality, they do something to you, touch you, affect your feelings and change your energy. They are not homeless; the streets are their home, where they universally choose to be. To deny them such freedom is unbelievably cruel, unfortunately those freedoms are being curtailed worldwide at an ever increasing daily rate.
Something amazing also occurs when you actually meet street dogs, actually meet and be greeted by them. The streets have a way of instilling a balance that no confinement can ever offer. Seems like a simple premise, allow a being to access life’s full stimuli, end up with something that won’t be a threat to you. Lock it up; confine it behind walls and barriers, frustrate the hell out of it and end up with a pent up unsociable biting machine. It applies to any species.
Even when confined through sickness or rehabilitation, one of the multitude pleasures in being with Bali Street Dogs, is in observing and experiencing how their social side still shines through. In respect to the Bali Street Dog, you could take the dog from the street. But most surely, it’s most ancient DNA would assure that you could not take the street, from such a free roaming animal.
For those involved in rescue and rehabilitation, such awareness is a constant distress. As many know, confining a true free roaming Bali Dog isn’t an easy thing to police. They have a way of finding a way to get out there. To be where they truly belong, out there where they feel completely alive, where they are simply home.
The short haired street version, unlike the long haired thicker coated highland Kintamani, is a specialist canine. Seen more by visitors to Bali, it really is the first dog face of the Island. Like their human compatriots, they are village originated citizens, cut from the same history.
Like their people, they are tenacious survivors, adaptable and fiercely resilient. Unlike their fellow human Nationals, their opportunity in successfully becoming the change facing them is rapidly diminishing as each birth cycle passes.
For the majority of local Bali dogs, there is no escape to another Island or country. Sure there are those who do immigrate and easily and readily adapt to foreign life, an indication of their intelligent toughness, if ever proof were needed. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of those foreign dogs who are allowed entry on Bali; their issues are endless and sadly cruel on them in so many ways.
For the remaining local dogs on an Island being squeezed by concrete and greed, their only option is to find their original environment. Local Bali dog cannot adapt on their Island home in their original pure canine form, not as the environment progresses, developmentally and materially wise.
Unfortunately what was once a relatively local stability, conducive in allowing their situation to have a favourable future, local Bali dog is now being subjected to a global assault, resulting in its small Island being broken up, its survival being shattered and as splintered uncertainty ensues, local Bali dogs lose out.
The local Bali dog of course doesn’t know this; it’s a dog, a very fine canine indeed. The reality though is that it’s nothing special. On an Island that’s moving and adapting its cultural base in alignment with rapid change, local Bali dog is unfortunately being jettisoned and discarded, an inevitable cultural casualty on the path decided.
Local Bali dogs will find their home, many will not. But those with opportunity, tenacity, intelligence, cunning and a good dose of luck, will find themselves back where it all started. In villages that are holding on to a way of life, a Bali life of long ago, local people with local dogs.
Seminggu setelah kepergian Ibu, anjing-anjing kami masih terlihat lemas. Mereka tidak menggonggong, tidak berkelahi, tidak pergi bermain ke sawah dekat rumah kami, tidak meninggalkan teras. Nafsu makan mereka menurun, meski saya sudah mengubah menu. Pemandangan yang sangat membuat frustasi, apalagi kami, para manusia juga merasakan hal yang sama.
Sayapun, yang sedang hamil 37 minggu, mengalami penurunan berat badan yang cukup signifikan. Memang, matahari kami pergi, dan semua makhluk bersedih karena kepergiannya yang sangat mendadak.
Dengan usia kehamilan yang sudah mendekati kelahiran, rencana awal kami yang ingin tinggal di Ubud beberapa lama tetap harus dilakukan. Lokasi rumah yang di pelosok membuat kami tidak memungkinkan menunggu di sana sampai tiba saatnya lahir.
Sehari sebelum kami berangkat, Munel, satu anjing kami yang juga adalah favorit Ibu, tidak mau makan sama sekali. Dia adalah seekor anjing bali kecil pendek, yang selalu menemani Ibu di dapur saat memasak. Ah, Ibu memang sangat menyukai anjing trah kecil dan juga yang banyak makannya.
Saya memberikan air kelapa, dan beberapa obat herbal lain yang biasa kami berikan pada anjing-anjing kami kalau mereka kehilangan nafsu makan. Dia meminumnya, sedikit. Esok malamnya, dia sudah lebih lincah dan mencari-cari kami dan menjilat-jilat tangan kami. Saat itu saya merasa lebih tenang meninggalkannya pergi ke Ubud.
Tiba di Ubud malam hari, saya dan suami yang kelelahan, langsung tertidur. Esok paginya, kami mendapat telepon.
Munel ditemukan mati.
Saya dan suami, yang sudah tidak kuat menampung berita kematian, langsung tidak bisa berkata apapun.
Munel, ikut Ibu.
Saat saya sudah kehilangan kepercayaan terhadap semua hal tak mungkin diatas kemampuan manusia, anjing ini menunjukkan lagi betapa saya salah besar. Seekor makhluk kecil berkaki empat juga bisa mati karena kesedihan mendalam, dan memutuskan untuk melanjutkan pengabdiannya untuk manusia yang sangat disayanginya.
Kami sekeluarga sudah tidak punya tenaga untuk menangisi anjing kami. Munel dikubur di rumah.
Kesedihan itu terlalu berlarut-larut, terlalu dalam, terlalu beruntun.
Kami melewati hari-hari di Ubud menunggu kedatangan matahari kecil baru dengan kemuraman.
Dan dunia memang selalu adil, semua sudah tergariskan, kita tinggal menjalani samsaranya dan selalu dikejutkan saat menyadari bahwa semua hal pasti terjadi tepat pada waktunya.
Seekor anjing kecil, datang pada kami, di Ubud. Dia di tempatnya yang dulu menjadi beban, dibawa suami ke rumah dengan suka cita.
Namanya Sate. Seekor anjing super ceria dengan tatapan mata membutuhkan. Pertama kali saya bertemu dengan Sate, dia langsung mencium perut saya, menjilatinya sebentar, dan tidak mau meninggalkan saya. Dimanapun saya duduk, dia menghampiri dan tidur dekat-dekat. Dia akan naik ke pangkuan suami saya dan mencoba menciumi dagunya.
Sekali lagi, anjing ini seolah berkata, “Aku di sini untuk kalian.”
Hari-hari kami jadi terobati dengan tingkahnya. Mungkin karena setelah masa-masa kehilangan itu, kami diberi kesempatan untuk bertumbuh dan merawat sebuah nyawa lagi.
Sungguh menakjubkan saat tahu bahwa seekor anjing kecil bau yang hampir dibuang ini menyadarkan kami dengan konsep hidup-tumbuh-mati, kepemilikan dan kehilangan, kelekatan dan melepaskan, kecintaan dan kelegaan.
Maka saat hari-hari menyedihkan itu kembali menyapa lewat semilir anginnya untuk mengingatkan luka, atau awan-awan kelabu yang terlihat datang memberi pelajaran baru pada kami, kami akan melaluinya. Kami akan menikmatinya.
Dengan berpegangan erat pada anjing-anjing penuntun kami. Yang baru datang maupun telah pergi.
A week after Mum’s passing; our dogs were still looking restless. They didn’t bark, didn’t involve into a silly fight, didn’t go zoomies through the rice field, and didn’t leave the front porch. Their appetite was decreasing, even after menu changes. This was frustrating, especially for us, who experienced the same.
My weight was significantly decreasing as well, and with this 37 weeks pregnancy, it didn’t look good. Our sun had gone, and nothing we could do would bring her back. We were left with sadness and desperation. With this almost-full-term pregnancy week, we planned to stay in Ubud for the delivery. We planned it way before, and we needed to do that. Living in a house that is far away from main road makes it impossible to wait at home until due date arrives.
A day before our leaving to Ubud, Munel (Moo-Nayl), and our Mum’s favorite dog didn’t want to eat at all. She was a short-legged Bali Dog with red hair, and beautiful eyes, she always accompanied Mum while she was cooking. Ah, Mum always loved her small dog that loved to eat a lot. I gave her coconut water and some herbal medicine that we used to give to our dogs when they are losing appetite. She drank a little and took the medicine. The next day she looked better, running and approaching us, and licked our hands. I then felt better to leave her to go to Ubud.
My husband and I arrived in Ubud at night and fell asleep immediately. We finally had some proper sleep after 2 weeks of deprivation. The next morning, we got a phone call.
Munel was found dead. We were speechless. We couldn’t bear any death news anymore, no matter how small. Munel, left with Mum.
Right after I felt like I had lost faith towards anything beyond human’s power, I was again proven wrong. A small four-legged creature can also die because of a broken heart. She decided to continue her devotion to the human she loved the most. We didn’t have the energy to cry or curse or regret. Munel was buried in our yard. That sadness was too deep, too profound and too frequent. We got through our days in Ubud waiting for our new little sun with murkiness.
But the universe is always fair in its unfairness, everything is meant to be, we just need to swim through its samsara and will always be surprised to realize that everything happens at the right time.
A puppy came to us, in Ubud. She was a burden in her former place, so was brought home by my husband with his brighter smile. Her name is Sate (Satay). She is a very happy dog with a needy look. The first time I met Sate, she immediately smelled my belly, licked it, and would not leave my side. Wherever I sit, she will approach and lay her body next to me. She will step onto my husband’s lap, and try to kiss his chin. Once again, as If she was saying, “I am here for you guys.”
Our days in Ubud were cured due to her presence. Maybe after that tragic loss, given an opportunity to grow and to nurture a life again is what we actually need. It is amazing to know that this stinky little puppy woke us up through a concept of life-grow-death, possession and lose, attachment and release, loving and relieve.
So that when those sad days come again with its breeze to remind us about our pain, or those dark clouds look like that they are going to give us a new lesson, we will get by. We will enjoy them all.
By holding on tightly to our dog gurus. Whether they just came or just gracefully left.
Past facts dictate present situations and future probabilities. Right now and into the future with the number of factual issues facing Bali people things aren’t looking too bright. Especially for those not surfing the material super wave.
Let’s be honest, wealthy people in the main aren’t going to possess street dogs, they’re not that glamorous or compliant, neither are the dogs. At the level of wealth being exhibited on an Island exploding in commodity madness, designer canines are an expected part of the presentation. Acknowledging that as a fact makes shifting focus so much easier.
Most of the wealth is concentrated where modernity is in keeping with wealth, places where the Islands ‘first canine’ is openly unable or welcome to be. It’s no use at all in bemoaning or arguing what is a fact, definitely no future, unless breed specific.
It’s a no brainer to realize that the first dog on Island Bali belongs, generally speaking of course, in village locations and environments. Once upon a not that long ago, the entire Island was just one village after another, one theme or another.
Facing facts tells us that unless Rabies becomes classified as endemic, meaning Bali Dogs are freely allowed to leave. Or they become the trendy go to pooch for the plethora of pampered rich dudes. Then the future for them becomes pretty much like all other world dogs forced from local streets. They return to what they always were, in pockets of locations that still conduct life as it used to be.
It can be argued that Bali has a dark future but that’s only a perception. The fact is inescapable that Bali and her first dog will forever be historically entwined. But it’s also a fact that the Bali Dog is becoming irrelevant, as more and more issues and priorities arise. Let’s not kid ourselves that hordes of tourists will boycott the Island if welfare for dogs is not implemented.
History will tell endless stories about the Islands evolution but there will only be one story about the dog. That despite everything that was thrown, the Bali Dog, an irrelevant mangy dog, survived and lived on, in the hearts and minds of future generations.