There was nothing to announce the death of another Bali Street Dog on the pavement of Jalan Raya Ubud. As morning rush hour pulsated and hummed, an old dog lay in its own shit and whatever remaining strands of receding ethereal energy subsisted, very little was left humming or pulsating in his tired and worn out shell. Only a few days previously he had been seen warming his body in the same spot, lying in the very same position on his side, as clumps of packaged up chaperoned and chauffeured tourists stepped all around. Their reaction to an old crumpled canine blocking the path was sheer individual disgust. Their abrupt and screeching stop, resulting in a near pedestrian pile up, a human spring roll of sorts deep fried in the midday tropical heat, elicited nothing more than a collective look of disdain. Like the majority of Bali Street Dogs he didn’t react to the utterances and ugly energy; he just kept silent and let them all pass on.
It would have been a very different environment when he was a puppy, no monster pollutant belching buses spitting out carcinogens and spilling out cashed up Chinese. No runaway consumerism at all cost to everything within environmental guidelines and sensibility. No sidewalks and pavements to funnel thousands of foreign feet along and no real danger of being seen as nothing more than a filthy nuisance and annoying obstacle. But that was then and there’s certainly no going back to a time that probably wasn’t paradise, just a different place with a slower pace.
It wasn’t that the old dog was dead, that happens. It wasn’t that he didn’t have a chance to shit on the sidewalk and have some absentminded tour guide step in it resulting in a group gag fest. It wasn’t even sad, because it was obviously his time and his place. What was wrong though, what was unacceptable though and what was utterly shameful, was the reality that no one even noticed that the old dog was actually dead. Not sleeping or dozing, not sunning his old bones, not performing some yoga pose, just dead in his own shit, surrounded by flies.
There are always markers that are warning signposts of an unhealthy environment or system. Canaries sent down mines to detect gas leaks, bees disappearing and extreme weather disturbances. Dogs dead in their own shit, isn’t a sign or marker of anything more than an end of life, of a mortal existence. But the marker is the lack of morality, the suicide of the soul, the absence of caring and the obvious disconnect regarding something right under foot. Unfortunately the signpost is a global pointer to where humanity is headed.
But on an increasingly hot and busy Ubud morning, at least one old local street dog didn’t need to suffer sidewalk sneers, disdainful looks and hateful energy, anymore.