The natural tendency of Bali Street Dogs is to be out and about at dawn and dusk. In between those zones they generally take rest and laze around, staying as much as possible clear of the energy sapping heat and humidity. In rain season the torrential precipitation usually drives them and everything else without gills under any available overhang.
But when the conditions are right no matter what the season, they really do appear to have a need to mingle with each other and on occasion create a modicum of mayhem. Many a person has been on a pleasant stroll, when quite all of a sudden they are literally faced with a mob of feral looking furry beasts, a collection of snarling curled lippers and a heap of hackled horror.
A pack of Bali Street Dogs has decided to take back the middle ground and put on a show. They all know each other of course because they live in the area and usually have homes from whence they have staggered out from. It’s their street and after a few hours of slumber it’s their time, which of course gives them the right, in their rightful opinion, to perform and pirouette. Of course in the main the mind numbing and literally limb numbing noise and fang gnashing is nothing more than that. The serious stuff, bloodletting, is usually reserved for interlopers, really unacceptable behaviour from a miscreant neighbour or the dreaded wrath of a rabies attack.
Bali Street Dogs live to be free, but it is easy to understand why they are becoming more and more curtailed due to the demands from more and more fearful tourists. But if you really stop and just watch what they do on their streets, it becomes so plain and so simple to see that it really is an amazing show between a pack of patriots out on the patch.
To consign anything to live behind a barrier or wall is bad enough, but to forcefully remove and imprison a proud and ancient pack to an existence of constrained boredom is just damn sad.
It’s not every day that five people are bitten by one dog, thankfully.
Made waved enthusiastically, but as he gingerly alighted from his new van, a Nissan APV people mover, it was evident that his smile was hiding a degree of pain. As his paying customers rushed ahead to enter the latest and newest shopping centre in town, Made approached limping ever so slightly.
As a small and innocent brindle Bali Street Dog wobbled into the canine friendly Banjar on the outskirts of town, nobody thought anything out of the ordinary was about to happen. Dogs wandering in from outside were not uncommon, although most travellers were either passing through of their own accord or being chased through and out by vigilant alpha dogs from within the area.
The objective beauty of Rabies is in its ability to elicit a justified flight response from anything that comes across its manifestation. And in this small weak and dying brindle Bali Street Dog the pack leaders sensed a clear and present threat, an event of such explosive and furious magnitude that a justified hide and retreat was unarguable. But nature is a durable, determined and ongoing force and in this small dog the Rabies nature was to seek out a mammal, any type of mammal to bite and to survive, at any cost.
On that ordinary morning in a small village Rabies came to visit and in a sliver of time a small brindle Bali Street Dog had no choice but to unleash its host on an unknown number of its own kind and on five known humans.
The effect of a Rabies transmission on a community is akin to a tsunami of justified fear and paranoia and on that given day the virus was supremely successful in how it affected the people of a small Balinese Banjar. Given that it appeared to be a battle waged and seemingly won over numerous years, the reality of a new and full blown frontal attack was nearly too much to bear. Rabies has an incubation period, a time lag of months in which to endure a waiting game of worrisome stalemate, a physiological quicksand of sorts.
Made was one of five innocent human victims of rabies, a being who had been bitten by an innocent canine victim of rabies on that morning, and as we greeted him in a crowded parking lot the physical wound to his foot explained the pain reflected in his walk. An unknown stranger had hurt a known neighbour and as Made limped back to his van it was the look in his eyes that told half the truth, that his physical pain would subside and his wound would heal and scar. But as much as Rabies is impersonal, as he turned to wave one more time it was impossible to ignore the psychological trauma and personal fear that is inflicted by the Rabies virus. An organism that is hell bent on one thing and one thing only, survival for itself at the ultimate death of its host.