When a small Bali girl met a big Bali dog, it was as if they were waiting for the time to be just right. From that moment on they have both developed a charming bond. As a big white Bali Street Dog gets older and slower and a young Balinese girl gets taller and faster, a trusting growth process is unfolding.
Through generation after generation, ongoing historical teaching and practical experience about the dog and its place has been handed down and on. The Bali Dog has forever been a part of normal family daily life and even though foreign breed dogs are infiltrating their domain, connection with family is unbroken and enduring.
When it comes to children, the Bali Dog has always fulfilled an integral and important role. As playmate protector and companion, Bali dogs and Bali children have formed strong and bonded relationships. They have survived rapid environmental and economic change and thankfully their connection has sustained and is still as strong as the culture itself.
And as another small Bali child and large Bali dog continue an ancient union, it can only be hoped that this picture will be replayed for many generations to come.
Back in 2013, three young and pretty fearless Indonesian women became tired of being asked by foreigners why Indonesian’s didn’t give a shit when it came to caring for street animals. Over coffee coke and the occasional Bintang, they voiced their frustration at not only their fellow citizens apparent lack of care for animals, but also at foreigners who could not see what was right in front of their faces. The three young women in front of them were Indonesian’s who gave a shit.
Apart from working long hours, six days a week with a well-known animal welfare organisation and receiving a monthly salary way below what they could expect in the corporate world. These women also worked out of hours rescuing and advocating for the Street Dogs of Bali.
One weekend on a well-deserved day off one of these young women got a group of her friends together. Rather than heading to the beach or a large shopping mall, they spent the day street feeding free roaming animals and talking with other young people in the area about animals and animal welfare. This informal day was a great success and pretty soon every day off was spent street feeding with friends and talking with other young people about the importance of caring for animals.
Word soon spread through social media and they gained a following. The three women began to become more organised in their approach, as each weekend they were having more and more young men and women join them in their street feeding missions. The street feeding days rolled into evening activities. The young women established movie nights in local Banjar’s, strategically showing animal themed films. These too grew in popularity.
As they reflected on their growing number of supporters, they realized that there were in fact a number of Indonesian’s who gave a shit. At that time the only formalized welfare charities on Bali were established and run by foreigners.
So, they started their own.
Seva Bhuana is the end result of three years of solid hard work, buckets of sweat, tears, laughter, ridicule, frustrations and ultimately satisfaction. Along the way they have been challenged intimidated and threatened. They are tackling some of their cultures norms head on. They have learned from the foreigners influencing their culture, taken what they needed and adapted it to their own community’s cultural context. They may have started out motivated by wanting to show that they were Indonesian’s who gave a shit, but they have now taken on the role of being instruments of change.
With women like Agra, Ina and Yogi in the world, we worry less for the future and are so very proud to have been invited to be spectators on their journey.
When it comes to the subject of Bali Dogs, opinions and interpretations about them are as varied as the paw pounded and well-worn streets they roam.
Once upon a time someone asked a very simple question, a straight up query of minuscule magnitude, a shot in the dark from a loaded gun with a silencer attachment. “Why are there so many different organizations and if they are all interested in the one thing why don’t they get together and work together”? Unfortunately there was indeed a question mark at the end, would’ve been so much easier if it had just been a statement. Was it naivety, could it be labelled stupidity verging on brainlessness. No, it was a very sensible and obvious inquiry, a common sense comment, something that many had pondered but never uttered.
The Bali Dog has been blamed, derided and held accountable for so many ills. But what is so much more impressive, apart from the Dog itself, is the amazing ability it has had in bringing the opinionated, peremptory, assertive, imperative, insistent, emphatic, adamant, doctrinaire, authoritarian, authoritative, domineering, imperious, high-handed, pontifical, arrogant, overbearing, dictatorial, uncompromising, unyielding, unbending, inflexible, rigid, entrenched, unquestionable and unchallengeable to the Island of the Gods.
Bless you and your very bent sense of humor.