The connection between humans and their dogs is based upon chemistry laid down tens of thousands of years ago. But, the relationship between individual humans and their dog or dogs is intensely personal, unique to them their culture and circumstances.
Whilst the connection cannot be questioned, the manner in which it manifests regularly is. Value judgements are often made regarding not only people’s ability to care for their animals, but also how much they love them, based upon ethnocentrism rather than considered opinion.
Of the many things I have loved over the last six years working both in Bali and in recent years as the CEO of AMRRIC has been the opportunities provided me to explore the many ways in which the dog – human bond manifests. I have learned to appreciate the differences and am continuously awed by the depth of the connection between a family and their dogs.
I have also learned that the relationship between human and dog greatly influences and enhances human to human relationships. Communicating cross culturally is somehow easier when a dog is part of the conversation. In most villages camps or towns, there will be one or two ‘dog’ families. Finding people and connecting with them over the mutual relationship, often helps to form the foundation stones of a relationship with the entire community. Learning from such people about the role of dogs within their culture provides a means of understanding how to work within the community to improve the health and wellbeing of both people and animals.
Whilst I am grateful to our Bali Dogs for so many things, I am particularly grateful for the journey they have taken us on which resulted in us meeting Pak Nyoman and his family.
With Bali Street Dogs there are given certainties, nature wise. The parameters of their unique disposition, permanently affects their behaviour. This is certainly not to say that the Bali Dog cannot adapt, that would be insulting to its intelligence.
Measuring, using mathematical formulations about Bali Street Dog Temperament is clinically data driven. It stands up to testing, proving that this canine will perform the functions of its innate nature, in its natural environment. In other words, it will be happy doing what comes naturally to it, if conditions are conducive, for it.
It’s the happiness component, which throws up a non-scientific based sentience argument. In philosophical measurement, by way of observation, the Bali Street Dog certainly feels and experiences. That means it has capacity for pleasure pain happiness suffering. For humans involved in animal welfare, anything other than a sentience viewpoint is really unthinkable.
So, it would appear that for the Bali Street Dog to be happy, it must behave as a Dog. Preferably as a Dog, that’s nature has been shaped by its historical environment. Ultimately as a Dog that performs functions in keeping with Human Dog cohabitation. Completely as a Dog with Humans who intrinsically understand its temperament.
No matter how well a Bali Street Dog may look, appear to be.
If it’s not living true to its scientifically measurable quantifiable natural temperament, it will most likely be unhappy, in sentience terms.
So maybe next time, you see a not so perfect looking one. Don’t discount, that it actually may be, just fine.
Happy doing what it was born to do, with people who know it, on an Island where it belongs.