Culture is man-made and remains constant until one generation says to the other – why?
The young generation of Bali is the generation to focus upon in changing the existing cultures attitude towards the Bali Street Dog. Influenced by external factors the young Balinese are already adopting behaviours of a pet owning culture previously not demonstrated. Veterinary visits, leashes, collars, grooming and pet beds are symbols of a changing awareness as to the value of pets as part of the overall family.
The challenge is to ensure that the Bali Street Dog is a recipient of these changing behaviours. This will only be achieved by young Balinese themselves advocating to their peers and elders for the value of the Bali Dog within their culture and society.
For this reason thebalistreetdog.com continues to support local initiatives such as those facilitated by Yayasan Seva Bhuana.
Change will not come about because outsiders demand it. Change will only be created by internal influencers. It needs to start somewhere, and it starts with the young.
Our recent presentation at the Animals for Asia Conference held in Kathmandu highlighted opportunities presented through Balinese cultural norms and how they can be leveraged to influence positive animal / human health outcomes.
During the presentation Agra Utari spoke about a well-known cultural symbol that is present at all village ceremonies. The Pecalang are the Balinese Community Police and consist of men from the village who volunteer to secure the local area and control traffic and events during ceremonial activities.
The model of Pecalang can be used to illustrate herd immunity to a village. The Bali Street Dogs of a village will form a pack and naturally guard their home compounds and village area. By vaccinating and sterilising these dogs you have a pack Pecalang protecting the community from outside animals who are not vaccinated and that maybe carrying the rabies virus.
This Pecalang Pack could wear a collar of the same colouring as worn by the men of the Pecalang. A collar of red, white and black symbolising the protective role of the dogs within the community.
It was an honour and privilege to attend and present at the 10th Animals for Asia conference held in Kathmandu, Nepal, this week. The theme of the conference was 'Changing Human Behaviour.’ Our presentation focused on the ancient connection between Balinese people and their Indigenous Dog. Sharing the stage with Agra Utari from Yayasan Seva Bhuana gave an authentic voice to our presentation and shone the international spotlight on a unique and ancient human/animal relationship. Our presentation abstract is below:-
Culture makes strategy a dog’s breakfast.
The island of Bali is world famous for its stunning scenery, beautiful ceremonies and astoundingly unique culture. Over recent years it has become infamous in some circles for its treatment of the islands Indigenous canine, the Bali Street Dog. A rabies incursion, an under prepared government, spiraling human deaths and a massive growth in tourism has resulted in a plethora of formal and informal animal welfare groups and organization’s all vying to save the Bali Street Dog from a supposed annihilation.
Bali dogs have lived alongside Balinese people for thousands of years. Theirs is a unique reciprocal relationship entwined in scripture, ceremony and mutual obligation. A relationship that does not align with the Western cultural context of pet ownership. Within this non alignment is where the greatest threat to the Bali Dog lies. Foreign initiated sterilization programs, rescue activities and adoption appeals abound throughout the tourist areas. The vast majority of these are underpinned by the Western context of responsible pet ownership and openly demand human behavioural change for Balinese people to emulate the Western model of pet ownership.
Unsurprisingly, these ethnocentric attempts are limited in their impact, even when implemented by local people. Repeated calls for laws, tourism boycotts and attempts to increase the value of the Bali dog within its own culture seem to make little difference aside from alienating local Balinese against any form of attitudinal change towards their companion animals.
Culture really does make a dog’s breakfast out of ethnocentric strategies.
This presentation unpacks the role of the Bali Dog within Balinese culture and demonstrates that when you forget that you know it all and listen loudly to what already is you can influence positive change. Illustrated with examples of optimizing local culture to influence positive change this paper outlines the story of a father dedicating his life to the health of his local village dogs in order to repay his karmic debt for the life of his child; the use of cultural symbols within the fight against rabies by using existing norms and structures to reinforce the need for herd immunity; and the use of Balinese youth culture to make animal welfare cool and an activity worthy of extensive social media sharing.
These stories all reinforce the importance of working within cultural context. The need to explain, inform and empower locally driven choice by giving people skills and resources, not charity, is the path to sustainable human behaviour change.
Change that is positive for people and their animals.
As we prepare to present the ancient relationship and deep bond between Bali people and their Island dogs at Animals for Asia Conference Kathmandu, our overwhelming concerns are directed toward the actions of Gunung Agung. The power of Agung is unmistakable and the sacred ancient relationship and deep bond the majestic volcano has with its people and animals is equally unshakeable.
Everything on Bali is interconnected, its energy and atmosphere exudes that reality on a daily basis, exemplified and reflected through ritual and faith. As Agung continues to power up, Bali people and their dogs will continue to have faith in knowing that everything happens for reasons, seen and unseen.
May the Karmic wheel of cause effect consequence turn quickly and may the ongoing relationship of Bali people their animals and Gunung Agung be strengthened even more by this latest explosive cycle.
You are most certainly foremost in our thoughts and held very deeply within our hearts.
It was great to catch up with Ina from Animal Friends Jogja recently. It’s been five years since we last saw each other so there was plenty to talk about!
We first met Ina and the rest of the AFJ Team in Bali when we were associated with Bali Animal Welfare (BAWA). At that time we worked closely together on several projects so got to know their work and values base really well.
Animal Friends Jogja is a non-profit organisation. As the name suggests the organisation is a group of friends who share similar views on treating non-human animals with respect and compassion. Their core belief is that animals have the right to live free from unnecessary suffering and exploitation.
They work to improve the welfare of animals by engaging in proactive education, advocacy, and campaigning through grassroots activism.
Their model is to work on challenging and changing the root causes of suffering rather than alleviating the symptoms. They are activists and educators, not rescuers. However Ina does share her living space with a number of cats and dogs that have taken shelter with her!
In Jogjakarta like everywhere in the world there is no shortage of animal welfare issues. At present AFJ are working on the problems and suffering associated with intensive animal farming and the dog meat trade as well as focusing on their business as usual activities of monthly sterilisation programs, education and assisting the government with rabies vaccination distribution.
They are a group of young Indonesians who are passionate, focussed and brave. If you would like to be part of their crusade for a kinder Indonesia you can make a donation using the links below. If you can commit to a regular monthly donation it will go towards paying a salary for a veterinarian. At present they rely on the generosity of a local volunteer vet which is not sustainable in the long term. Having their own vet on staff will accelerate their sterilisation efforts so is certainly worthy of a regular contribution.
This website is first and foremost a celebration and tribute to the Bali Street Dog. They are not to be found anywhere else but on Bali, they are unique and are certainly special. They are like no other dog, but are a combination of all dogs.
This website has evolved and now serves a dual function, advocacy and education. It attempts to educate non-Balinese by building understanding and respect about the substance and depth of the human dog relationship within the Islands cultural context. It advocates for the long standing and deep relationship shared between Bali people and their Indigenous dog. It strives to show a relationship that does not look or feel like a pet/owner relationship in the western context and yet is strong, has deep substance and ancient structure. Ignorance of this relationship will guarantee the failure of any animal management intervention as well as being disrespectful of the dominant culture on the Island.
There is certainly no doubt that there are issues for the Indigenous dog of Bali. Overpopulation, lack of access to veterinary care, and disease creates suffering for hundreds of Bali Dogs each day.
The key to improving the wellbeing of Bali Dogs lies in influencing behavioural change within the humans on the island as well as improving access to veterinary care and resources. Changing the behaviour of humans is a long term undertaking. New and desired behaviours must be presented in a way that is aligned with cultural norms and values and the promised outcome must resonate within these norms and values. People must be allowed to own their change and be active participants in any animal wellbeing intervention.
This website provides the basis for understanding the cultural relationship between Balinese people and their dogs. A relationship that was in existence before the first foreigner set foot on the Island, a relationship deserving of respect and understanding.
The problem with dogma when it comes to Bali dogs is that it can remove open discussion open questioning and quell open enquiry. Thinking or believing that one knows everything about this unique canine or that one’s opinion is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth leaves a very open case closed tightly shut indeed.
By all the Gods there’s so much unknown about the Bali dog. Scientifically highly intelligent pinheads are still trying to map how when and where their historical DNA lineage really originated from, why they fit into the scheme of ancient regional canine movements relative to land mass breakup and who their canine relatives may be or not be. Science is renowned for breaking down dogma by way of objective and sceptical methodology, arriving at a given surety only after mathematical proof, weight of evidence or logical argument is proven to be irrefutable. However, where humans are in control of all actioned components there is always the risk of ‘unintentional’ ego based dogma arising. Questions about the Bali dog from a science point of view must continue to be encouraged.
However what cannot be argued is that they are in fact Canis lupus familiaris, literal meaning is "friendly wolf dog." For the hordes of lay individuals who are just bent toward this type of canine, questioning anything and everything about the Bali dog is imperative. They and the Bali dog don’t fit the stereotype at all, apart from the fact that they are collectively indeed dogs and Bali dog addicts conjoined. So it really is up to all those crazy Bali dog people to religiously and dogmatically keep a very open mind about the Bali dog.
Forgetting that you know it all and listening loudly to what already is really can influence positive change.
Some recent reporting about the treatment of Bali Dogs by representatives of welfare organizations is to say the very least, sickening. If such reports are in fact true, should we be really at all very surprised. As downright shocking as the reported actions are, it’s quite frankly naive to believe that human contact with nature is a blessed union.
More and more organizational structures are being exposed for their cruel selfish behaviour. Their underbelly of inhumanity directed at their own and any other kind, is being uncovered as individuals use social media as a whistle blowing mechanism.
Unfortunately and all too historically common, those who have attempted to expose such organizational abusive human structures are promptly ganged up on, painted as insanely disgruntled and threatened with all manner of legal verbal and physical retribution. Thankfully now in this interconnected global community, those who risk shining a light on such deep dark and downright dirty behaviour have a worldwide mass of like-minded people to at least offer a degree of digital support.
Bali Dogs certainly do not deserve abuse from those who purport to actually be saving them from abuse, it’s the ultimate oxymoron. For too long, welfare organizations have been able to use their targeted furry demographic to build power and esteem, free from serious questioning and legislatively legalized demands upon full and open disclosure.
Nothing on Bali is simply black and white. Bali dogs present a full energised colour spectrum. They never ever forget human kindness or cruelty and in their very own unique furry Buddhist fashion they have a way of enacting Karma, in ways that we will never fully understand.
Bali Dogs do not need saving. They deserve to be offered genuine protection, sensitive promotion and their historical connection with Bali people preserved. But most of all and most certainly they deserve respect.
Especially from those who have gained fame and fortune for themselves on the back of each and every single one of them.
‘Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association typically to the advantage of both.’
It has been so heartening to see and hear of individuals and groups, who in lieu of their own safety and wellbeing dropped everything in their normal day to day routine in an attempt to ensure the wellbeing of Agung’s people and animals.
If most reports from Gunung Agung can be believed, apart from a few days of no food, those outsiders who ventured to the Volcano’s lofty regions, fed back information that the Bali dogs they came across were very healthy and obviously living.
If these reports are accurate and there certainly appears to be more than enough photographic and video evidence to back them up, then as always, there is now an opportunity to learn from this experience.
If it’s not broken don’t fix it.
When you forget that you know it all and listen loudly to what already is you can influence positive change.
We are proud and excited to announce that www.thebalistreetdog.com in partnership with Yayasan Seva Bhuana, will be presenting at Asia for Animals Conference 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal!
In line with the conference theme (Changing Human Behaviour) our presentation ‘Culture makes a dog’s breakfast out of Strategy’ focuses on the need to work within cultural context when trying to influence human behavioural change in a way that improves the lives of animals.
It will be a pleasure and honour to co-present with Agra Utari, who with Ina Karina and Yogi Antari created and founded Yayasan Seva Bhuana.
Together we will be proud to represent the magnificent Bali Dog, and to celebrate its unique place within a unique culture.