Anjing Bali dikenal dengan keberanian dan kemandiriannya; maka mereka biasa dikenal sebagai anjing pekerja; menjaga rumah atau berburu.
Namun dengan kebiasaan mereka menjaga dan membantu berburu, beberapa dari mereka ternyata juga bisa menjadi baby sitter yang manis.
Saya baru saja melahirkan seorang bayi, dan saya merasakan kesiagaan 10 anjing saya terhadap si bayi. Saat kami akhirnya pulang dari klinik ke Ubud, Sate(anjing yang kami ambil saat akan dimakan dagingnya di seputaran Ubud) kami biarkan mencium kakinya. Dia tampaknya tidak terlalu tertarik pada awalnya, karena dia lebih suka bermain dengan mainannya.
Lalu si bayi mulai membuat suara.
Sate, tiba-tiba berubah jadi siaga, menghampiri asal suara dan mencium-cium udara di sekitarnya. Saya bisa melihat matanya jadi semakin besar, dan memperlihatkan ketertarikan pada ‘benda’ yang berbunyi ini. Setelah itu dia selalu ingin ada di sekitar si bayi. Meski, kadang dia masih harus diperingati saat berinteraksi. Maklum, dia masih anjing Bali muda yang berenergi tinggi.
Beberapa hari kemudian, kami kembali pulang ke Tabanan. Kami membawa Sate juga. Perkenalan berjalan lancar antar anjing di Tabanan. Beberapa anjing saya langsung terlihat awas saat saya membawa sesuatu terbungkus selimut. Hidung mereka naik tinggi-tinggi untuk mencari tahu bau aneh yang baru mereka kenal itu. Mereka tidak langsung menghampiri saya seperti biasa. Biasanya mereka meloncat dan menggoyangkan ekornya gila-gilaan kalau melihat saya pulang.
Mereka tahu ada sesuatu yang berbeda. Dari bau saya, dari gerak gerik saya. Mereka sadar bahwa itu saya, tetapi sesuatu hal lain membuat mereka agak ragu.
Banyak yang takut anjing-anjing ini akan meloncat dan melakukan hal-hal yang biasa mereka lakukan pada saya, tapi ternyata hal itu tidak terjadi. Suami dan saya seperti memproyeksikan tameng, untuk membuat bayi aman, tapi juga cukup dekat agar para anjing mudah berkenalan.
Di kebanyakan rumah tangga di Bali, memiliki bayi baru lahir berarti kita terkurung dari dunia luar, apalagi bersosialisasi dengan binatang Hal ini sering membuat hewan peliharaan ditinggalkan dan dijauhi. Keluarga dan kerabat takut kalau mereka menggigit, membuat anak sakit dan membuat rumah kotor.
Tapi untuk saya, anjing-anjing saya tetaplah keluarga. Ya mereka kadang membuat rumah kotor, tapi dengan sedikit usaha, hal itu bukan masalah. Saya tetap membiarkan mereka tidur di kamar, bergantian
berkenalan dan mencium-cium si bayi. Rasa percaya yang saya miliki kepada anjing-anjing saya cukup untuk membuat saya merasa aman. Dan saya tahu mereka menghormati itu.
Dan indahnya, setiap hari setelah perkenalan itu, mereka bergantian tidur di lantai dekat si bayi. Setiap bayi mengeluarkan suara, mereka langsung mendongak, melihatnya lalu berbalik melihat saya, seperti bilang, “Bu, ‘makhluk’ itu sepertinya perlu sesuatu.”
Saya percaya, anak-anak yang tumbuh bersama hewan akan menjadi orang baik. Mereka belajar untuk merawat satu sama lain, berlatih kasih sayang. Mereka tumbuh jadi teman baik. Dalam perihal anak saya, dia akan tumbuh bersama 10 teman baik. Jadi saat saya melihat perilaku 10 anjing saya, saya tahu sesuatu yang indah akan terjadi nantinya.
Sekarang saya sadar, selain keberanian dan kemandiriannya, anjing Bali punya kepekaan tinggi akan milik orang-orangnya. Bayi hanya sebagai contoh bagaimana mereka juga bisa berlaku lembut. Mereka bisa merasakan kerapuhan, perlunya perlindungan, dan perasaan menjadi orangtua baru. Dan mereka melengkapi lingkaran itu dengan rasa hormat dan penerimaan. Yang kamu butuhkan hanya membiarkan semua mengalir, dan menyalurkan semua kepercayaan yang telah dibangun selama ini dengan anjing Balimu.
Bali Dogs have been known for their bravery and independence. Therefore, they are more likely used as working dogs; house guarding or hunting.
But with their bravery and independence, some of them can make good nanny dogs too.
With a baby that I just recently had (a human baby, of course), I have noticed 3 of my 10 dogs are so alert to this little bundle of joy. When we finally headed back to our Ubud house from the Clinic, we let Sate, the dog we rescued that was going to be a dog meat delicacy up in Ubud, to sniff the baby. She didn’t seem to care at first, as she focused more on her toy.
And then the baby started to make sound.
Sate, as alert as she could be, approached the bed and sniffed. I could see her eyes were getting bigger, she was showing interest in this ‘thing’ that squealed. After that, she kept trying to be with him at all times, although she needed to tone down her ways of interaction. She is still a young Bali dog anyway.
A few days later, we moved back to Tabanan. We brought Sate to meet the Tabanan pack. It went quite well. Some of my dogs were alert once they saw me with something wrapped in blanket. They put their nose up in the air and their eyes locked on the baby in my arms. They didn’t approach me like they used to. They used to jump and wag their tails like crazy once they see me coming home.
They knew something was different, from my scent, from my behaviour. They kept their distance. They knew it was me, but something about me was making them hesitant.
It was the baby.
Everyone was so scared at first that they will jump and do their thing on me, and will harm the baby. And it didn’t happen. My husband and I were projecting a shield, to keep the baby safe, but close enough for the dogs to have a chance to meet.
In Bali, in most households, having a newborn baby means you are closed to the outside world, let alone having a chance to be with animals. That means pets often become victims of neglect. They are used to being loved or taken care of and once a baby is born, they are even less than the dog they have ever been. Family and relatives are afraid they will bite, they will make the baby sick, or they will make the house dirty.
But for me, my dogs are my family. Yes, they will make the house dirty. But I know they won’t bite, and they won’t make my baby sick. They will make my baby stronger. I still let them sleep in the room; take turns in looking and sniffing the baby. The trust I have on them is enough.
And I know they respect it.
And amazingly, each day after that, they take turns in sleeping on the floor next to our bed. Every time the baby squeals, their ears are up, and their eyes turn from the baby to me. As if they were saying, “Ma, that ‘thing’ needs something”
I believe that a kid who grows up with an animal will most likely become a good person. They learn to nurture each other and having unconditional love. They grow up with a best friend. In my son’s case, he grows up with 10. So when these 10 dogs take turns in taking care of my kid in their own way, I know something good, will come out of it. My son has already gained best friends from doing nothing else than being adorable.
Now I know, beside their bravery and independence, Bali Dogs have a high sensitivity towards the belonging of their people. A new born baby is an example of how they can be gentle. They can sense the fragility, the need of protection, and new feeling of parenthood instinct. And they complete the circle by surrounding us with respect and acceptance. All you need is to give in, and empower the trust that you have in bonding with your Bali Dogs.
On a step in Pengosakan outside an Alpha Mart, another Bali Dog named Blackie lives on. We first met him back in 2010. His impressive size and young adult aura was both intimidating and unnerving. But Blackie was one of those very gentle big Bali Dogs, a true passive giant. Seeing Blackie again in 2017 has been a privilege, insofar as he has survived when many have not. It’s also been a continued blessing, relief in the knowledge that he is cared for in his advancing years.
There are many ‘old Ubudians’ who lovingly remember another very famous Blackie of the night. A serial seducer of the ladies. A very free roaming Bali Dog about town. Those old timers who know that Blackie is a badge of honour name, not cheaply handed on. Those who know when the name Blackie, in Bali Street Dog folklore is spoken, establishments such as CP lounge, Mingle, Shisha Lounge, Boom Boom and Laughing Buddha come to mind. That most famous of all Blackies. He who roamed far and famously long, along Monkey Forest road and its numerous side gangs. His memory will never be forgotten, his name etched in history.
Pengosakan Blackie certainly lives up to the lofty Blackie title, in our humble opinion. He has never roamed far and long, has never charmed the ladies over a swig of Bintang or waft of Hookah vapour. And he will never wake up on the lap of some Swedish maiden. But, like King Blackie he has survived. Survived knife wounds, scalding hot water burns and the vagaries of daily life on an increasingly chaotic road in an unrepentant competitive environment.
And for all of that, we salute Blackie the Pengosakan Bali Dog. And as we joyfully met him again today, we also dedicated a few moments in memory to that other most famous of all Ubud Blackie Bali Dogs. May he continue to roam free in canine nirvana.
That hard to describe ingredient. It’s always been here, a fascinating piece in the jigsaw. The mysterious fifth taste that rounds everything off.
Many foreigners who visit or arrive to stay for any length of time on Island Bali report a myriad of feelings when it comes to what they observe in regard to the Bali Street Dog. Dogs free roaming on the streets from where these visitors have come from are in the main non-existent. So, as is the case about so many things on Bali, the newness of such difference can be overwhelming, stupefying, addictive and shocking. Interesting ingredients indeed. The Bali Street Dog has been, always been, just there. As visible as the dog is, to most foreigners, it’s not what Bali represents culturally wise, when they decide to visit.
For so many visitors the Bali Dog is the last thing they think about and quite frankly expect to see, when it comes to culture. Its unique version of Hinduism, elaborate ceremonies, arts and crafts, and strong community spirit. These are the mainstays that come to mind, when visitors come to see and feel and taste and explore. Google Bali Culture and the Bali Dog will rarely be listed.
Asking why in regard to ceremonies, community spirit, dance and music, is easily answered. They just are, just is, and always has. The same applies to the Bali Dog. Many foreigners ask why local Balinese people don’t appreciate their local Island dog. They do, just not in the way expected from a foreign viewpoint. Their dog is not seen as anything more special than their ceremonies. They are there, have always been there, and just are.
There are other mysterious flavours, unseen ingredients, when it comes to the energy of Balinese culture. The Bali Street Dog is a seen element. Yet it’s mostly unseen and unrecognizable animal position, could very well be the Umami factor. Hinduism, elaborate ceremonies, arts and crafts, strong community spirit and dogs.