It’s a very foreign thing to walk Bali Street Dogs on the street, on a leash. Anyone who has spent any time on Bali will attest to the obvious traffic dangers and challenges that await the uninitiated, the initiated and even the born and bred. The variables are numerous, in fact they are endless, however given enough time observation and patience, a somewhat gradual parting of the clouds and an approaching slight clear picture emerges of a rather amazing system of flow. From a pedestrian point of view, stepping off and stepping back on seems to be the general tactic of choice, a movement that eventually becomes second nature when the sound, sight and smell of anything approaches from front and back or around and surround. Crossing a street or busy road appears to give favourable results when actioned on the diagonal, trying to cross a road straight across can result in a longish wait and a rather painful case of sideway whiplash. It also becomes apparent that no one wants to hit anything or anybody and great respect is given in order to avoid what would not only result in massive personal inconvenience, but also an equally unwanted and unneeded interruption to traffic flow in an already congested environment. Road rage is a rare and very foreign concept; no one appears to have the time for it.
Bali Street Dogs who have survived the traffic dangers are also the born and bred, those who as newly uninitiated puppies learnt very quickly to step on and step off and those who were genetically enhanced in street wisdom, making them more endowed than the rest. The rest just didn’t make it, usually ending up as another stain on the streets, but what they lost and left on the asphalt gave the survivors a continued strong genetic line of learning and adaptation. It also bestowed upon them the justified title of “Professional Bali Street Dog”, justified because being street smart was only one step on the right rung. No chicken eating, human biting, vehicle chasing and unnecessary barking were also required attributes to climb the ladder for full membership with stamped certification and entry to such an elite level.
More and more Bali Street Dogs are now surviving to adulthood without ever walking the streets, those who were taken up as puppies by non Balinese people and nurtured away from the dangers that their brethren had no choice but to face and live or die on. These dogs have not been subjected to the simple Darwinian survival of the fittest rule, a reality that was the final rung in the making of a true Professional Bali Street Dog.
Rehabilitating an adult Bali Street Dog to Street Walk is not impossible. But it does require a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of time, a lot of repetition and a huge sense of humour, with a twist of insanity. To walk the streets with a Bali Dog is a true pleasure and privilege. To lead one on a leash is a challenge and a test. To let them remember a part of who they are is the reward.