Away from major tourist areas Bali dogs still number in the tens of thousands. They survive and thrive in rural and outlying ‘real’ Bali, where households sustain an average of 3-6 mainly lokal dogs.
As ‘progress’ continues its inexorable march, more foreign breed dogs are joining in and adapting to the new and changing landscape. For now, survival for old historic Bali dogs and new fashionable foreign canines appears to be assured.
There are many things that will kill when it comes to what befalls dogs on Bali. From accident to intentional, the outcome for what is still a free roaming canine is based on luck, charm, instinct and opportunity. In the main their ability to survive on very little, escape intentional directed harm and utilization of their genetically infused hunter gather instincts enables them to live to adulthood. Free roaming adult Bali dogs are living completely according to their historic nature and even though their lifespan is relatively short, 4-6 years, their quality of existence is nonetheless ‘better’. As we have discussed in other blogs confining a Bali dog is the ultimate torture.
Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (TVT) is a very efficient killer and is found worldwide but most commonly occurs as a contagious tumour in dogs in tropical and subtropical countries. It is transmitted from dog to dog through normal social behaviour, usually mating. TVT has been creeping slowly across the island of Bali for many years. The tumours it causes are large, bloody and very painful. They will eventually kill the dog, but not before ravaging its body and destroying its relationship with its human companions.
The only form of defence against TVT is to sterilise the dog populations. Sterilisation is the most humane form of animal management available to free roaming dog populations and their human companions.
Bali dogs and their Island human companions faced down the horrific Rabies virus, dealt with and survived the shock associated with that very efficient killer and maintained the unbroken bond they have had for thousands of years.
Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumour (TVT) will continue to test the relationship.
It can only be hoped that the virulence of this virus does not result in shining unwanted attention on a union that ironically survives on a relationship of inattention.