Balinese culture is alive and on the surface it appears to be well. The myriad of ceremonies and daily offerings continue unabated even under the immense pressure of rapidly increasing modernity. In all corners of this tiny Island a unique Balinese Hinduism is being taught and embraced by the next generation, they are the torch light for a belief system that has remained true and has adapted, moved with the change of time and endured all it has faced.
However, there is one component of Balinese culture and life that is under direct threat. The Bali Street Dog has been an integral part of community life on Bali for as long as humans have inhabited the Island. Connected and interconnected in isolation, both canine and people have cohabited in a symbiotic relationship for millennium. The Bali Street Dog is as strong and proud, resilient and adaptable and as enduring as the culture itself.
With increasing pressure due to tourism, population growth and resource depletion, the Bali Street Dog is now being severely affected, especially in modern urban areas. A rabies outbreak nearly heralded their rapid extinction and their free roaming street activities were severely curtailed. They have survived the worst of rabies but their numbers have been greatly reduced and continue to decline.
Their intelligence, tenacity and dogged will to survive and live on would undoubtedly see them defeat just about anything nature could launch at them. Genetically they have evolved to be survivors; they are designed to go on.
What the Bali Street Dog cannot survive is the ever increasing human footprint that is treading a path on the streets where once they lived, a place where they knew their place, a place in balance with a society that needed them. Where to now?
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.
To all past present and future Bali Street Dogs, we wish you well, may you live on and run free.