Like any engaging story, elements and combinations of myth magic and reality must be present. Myth/folklore factor large in the Bali dog tale. As with all historical stories that pass through the conditioning of many generations and as the passage of time widens, reality is invariably diluted, and a rewriting of history is offered up.
Before the latest foreign economic mass tourism invasion, the Bali dog was a virtual unknown. Seen as a shadowy passthrough on old grainy film footage or captured as an element on black and white scenic/village/marketplace photographs the dog was just another expected part of preindustrial SE Asian life.
The reality that the dog was nothing more than a functional part of a larger existence was inescapably accepted and obvious back then, its survival wasn’t considered a priority. Nowadays that reality is still there, but it has become uncomfortable to many people who justifiably cite welfare as a right that should be afforded such an ancient canine.
An awareness movement began approximately 40 years ago. It arose from a few foreign/outsider individuals who began rescuing Bali dogs. Whatever their intent and based on their viewpoint, it began a campaign mentality that has grown exponentially. To date there are close to 100 groups and individuals who rescue/rehome dogs that are abandoned/abused. The abused and discarded dogs appear to keep pace with the opening of yet another group or an announcement that another individual rescuer has joined the club.
The Island is seen as magic and mysterious and a place imbued with supernatural energy. So, it comes as a jolting shock when the marketed myth that Balinese are such a beautiful welcoming kind lot collides head on with the reality that they are in fact just people with all the vagaries, niceties and nasties that are globally generalized in us all.
The reality is that Balinese people do not see their dog, or anything else, the way mainly Caucasian welfare/rescue mentalities view the issues facing the Bali dog. The reality is that generally none of us appreciate what we have and are always on the lookout for new and sparkly. Myth and reality rarely meet and live happily ever after in the middle of anywhere.
So, we are left with magic.
The magic is the reality that one of the very last ancient indigenous dogs is still actually alive and thriving. The magic is that whatever their relationship with people of all cultures is, they are still doing it, in built up urbane areas, step back in time villages and forest/jungle isolation. The magic is that for now they are still here and that there are many organizations/people including Balinese who are doing everything to protect promote and preserve them.
The reality is simply that from myth and storytelling a relationship with the Balinese dog has endured and flourished.
That is magic.