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.
Stockpiling a product that’s under threat can be a double edged carving knife. In the case of the Bali Dog the threat of its unavailability is horrific to those involved in the dog meat supply business.
Rabies certainly couldn’t finish it off; food for human consumption won’t get them, tourism could be their saviour.
It’s inevitable that a spike in dogs ‘going missing’ will be occurring, Bali Dogs top the gastronomical listing. They are historically renowned and culturally respected for their physical and spiritual strength. Exactly the same reasons they are so sought after for their meat.
Culturally they and Bali people are joined paw and hand. Always have and always will, no matter what outsiders insiders and foreigners have inflicted upon them.
When the last Bali Dog is skinned alive, when yet another barrier to its ongoing changing and continued survival is removed, when their protection is as assured as much as possible and after the horror of what the Bali Dog has endured. Its then a matter of the utmost importance that its their history with their people is what is celebrated in the aftermath.
When the last Bali Dog is eaten, one more injustice against the Bali Dog is beaten.
Forget scholarly articles or the study of canines, academically referred to as Cynology. The Bali Dog is one tough beast with a damn impressive lineage. What came first is frankly irrelevant now. It’s highly unlikely that hordes of professorial peeps are going to step into the fray and protect a dog that has Chinese Chow Chow, Japanese Akita and Australian Dingo fused in its DNA. It’s very highly probable that millions of tourists are not going to blockade the Island and refuse to holiday on paradise over this unique fur covered icon of Balinese Culture. It’s a complete sure bet that the Bali Dog cannot save itself, its survival against the invasion(s) surrounding it are insurmountable.
Already the literal shape of the Bali Dog is physically changing. Apart from crossbreed versions of all sorts, there are a growing number of short legged bearded types emerging. Unlike its more privileged relatives who have gained breed status and protection, Bali Street Dogs have been incrementally relegated to untouchable status.
So for purely historical purpose and before they do deviate and in effect disappear from the way they looked for thousands of years. Take a very close look at where this incredible canine came from. Consider how its amazing nature has developed in keeping with Balinese Cultural Traditions. Observe how its variations in shape form and colour span thousands of Asian miles and its vast surface area. The incredible Dingo, majestic Akita and powerful Chow Chow, all align with the short haired Bali Street Dog.
Did those canines in fact originate from the beaten eaten and maligned Bali Dog? Do they owe their existence to the island dog and its resilient gene pool? It really doesn’t matter, except in the pages of scientific literature. What really matters is to continue to be impressed at yet another endangered species, to take a look and spend some time. To be in awe, at what can be unscientifically regarded as one dog, with the lot, and then some.