Holding On in an Age of Throwaway
As the overall number of Indigenous Bali Dogs appears to be decreasing the amount of those reaching old age appears to be increasing. Without any scientific data to analyse or refer to, numbers at either end of the spectrum cannot be verified, so it is through observation only that these conclusions are drawn.
The number of aged Bali Dogs sunning themselves on the steps of compounds does seem to be on the rise, at least in the areas that we frequent. There must be reasons for this increase. Is it the sterilisation programs at work? Sterilised dogs do live longer. Is it because of the parasite control treatments being doled out by welfare agencies? Is it a manifestation of a growing economy giving people more disposable income for veterinary care? Or is it a combination of all of those things. Is it because villages are no longer burdened by unmanaged dog populations and all of the associated nuisance behaviours that go along with ill-mannered packs of unsterilized dogs. When populations are managed people end up with the dogs they want, and people usually care for things that they want, in their own way.
Whatever the reason(s) there is something very heart-warming in seeing the rheumy eyes of an old Bali Dog trying to focus on you as you walk past their compound steps.
It wouldn’t be surprising to conclude that the number of genetically ancient Bali Dogs, on an Island clamouring for new and fashionable, are in fact decreasing rapidly. But what’s more surprising, given the rampant rush to throw out the old and usher in the new, is the sight of ‘many’ aging Bali Dogs, especially in Banjars and villages away from urban areas.
Possible reasons may be as surprising as factual reality.
Indigenous dogs have historically lived short lives. Life for them generally ran parallel with their human companions, tough symbiotic conjoined existence with a lifespan measured in survival mode criteria. Of course there were exceptions. But on average dogs that were simply useful no more, in an era of generational hand to mouth reality, lived on average 5 maybe 6 years.
Nothing has changed, Bali Dogs still on average live short lives. So incredibly strong is their genetic spirit, they will perform whatever function is indicative to their nature, until they draw their final breath. Function for a Bali Dog is, just is. From the range of duties that individually they are blood lined imbued with, their need to fulfill their designated activity(s) is everything. To deny them their life force need is completely cruel and against their natural spirit.
A Bali Dog will never stop working, from exuberant puppy to blind lame old dog; they will do absolutely everything to go on doing just what they do. For thousands of Bali Dogs their functional lives do continue for as long as their short lives last, they are the lucky ones, even though at times on observation it may not look that way. It’s the others who end up caged physically and emotionally, those who may end up living a perpetual useless daily date into old age, who end up suffering the ultimate indignity.
To never run free and at full force at an imaginary date, just being and just doing what they were born to do.