The many and multi coloured Bali Street Dog is most comfortable when it has a companion or two to spend its life and time with. Unlike the Kintamani dog that appears to prefer a solitary existence in being the only canine within a human unit, the Bali Street Dog enjoys creating havoc in at least couples.
Each colour of the Street Dog seems to have a corresponding personality that produces behaviour that has an uncanny uniform and generalized action. So when they are mixed and allowed to freely exhibit their inherited ancient nature in their individual way it can be quite an experience.
But no matter their colour or nature, having more than one is a responsibility that should only be contemplated by those with a bent brain and a bit of spare time.
Weather Bali Street Dogs are pack orientated or not will always be open to debate and conjecture; there are certainly enough exceptions to the rule to leave room for individualism, as there are with all species. Be it a single dog though or a pack, the most pressing reality with a street dog is access to the asphalt. Deny them right of passage to the road and a wave of collective and colourful canine vitriol will build to a tsunami of torment in decibel and destruction.
The most rewarding moment when reintroducing Bali Dogs to the streets, is to take them out together and experience the joy as their individual colours meet and mingle with strange new shades.
To be able to simply stop and watch as a clan of collective colour pause on a busy street. To hear them grumble and groan and gripe and sniff and snort and snap. All of this happens as the natural order of street life in a Bali Dogs colourful day.
All of this and so much more.
There are times in life when something magical appears and we are so very thankful for its happening. In fact magic happens all the time, but we are usually way too preoccupied to notice, that is until something out of the ordinary and mundane jumps up and really catches our senses.
If more people were like Pepe, fondly known as Pepper, the world would be a much nicer place. I know that’s a well worn and so over used quote, but there are occasions when it really is an appropriate cliché.
She was adopted as a puppy, dumped on the street as a pregnant adolescent and left to protect and subsequently smother her babies to death while attempting to shelter them from a thunder storm.
Her story is really not that rare, in fact it’s an all too common occurrence on streets that are so very unforgiving to anything that shows weakness and vulnerability. She was just one of the fortunate few who made it through and has lived on to have her story told.
Pepper is an ‘anjing Bali besar’, a ‘Bali big dog’, who is certainly far from perfect, so this is not a tale of the most righteous dog on the planet, she wouldn’t be a Bali Street Dog in that case. Apart from her large frame and big mouth, her voracious appetite and constant attention seeking, her dance of dominance and need to sniff everything, she is quite possibly the gentlest largest white haired, big eared, brown eyed beast around.
In a world of chaos and cruelty, she proves that healing can happen. Even after suffering the loss of her offspring and the resulting insults and physical attacks upon her, she has gone on to be most at peace when surrounded by humans.
She has given back so much even after what was taken and if more people were like her, then a little bit of Pepper would certainly go a very long way in making the world a much nicer place.
When something flinches at the sound of a Frangipani flower hitting the ground, it is not too difficult to conclude that if a beautiful collection of soft cream coloured petals can elicit such an obvious and immediate fear reaction in such a small beating heart, then the reality for its mind must hold more than a few issues to say the least.
When any being with a nervous system has existed in nothing more than a small confined space of steel and wire, it is not too unreasonable to expect a resultant rage against everything. What ensues is an internal defence mechanism of sorts from such damage. Salt was not fear aggressive in his dealings with humans, he wanted and still wants very little to do with them, he was defensive in his reactions to being pushed and prodded into a no escape corner of his sad reality.
It would take twelve months and a fellow furry friend for him to begin to trust again. It would take patience and routine and would need a push and pull strategy to tease and tweak a truly latent and proud Bali Street Dog to come out and show what was always there. What was hidden and buried deep, but certainly not completely lost and destroyed.
His notebook of worry was a full list of anxiety, a bulging record and litany of trauma that resulted in a small male dog that had lived his short life in torment. Completely unbalanced and unsure as to who and what he really is, it would take nearly two years for him to become true to his nature.
Salt has now emerged as fully as he can and even though his notebook of nerves is by no means empty he has certainly faced many of his demons. To roam free and unencumbered of any and all fear should be the right of every being. Being fear free of a falling Frangipani flower was what helped Salt to shake a little less.
He still has a long way to go but it is a road that this Bali Street Dog can now roam without his book of fears.
He didn’t stick around for very long but the damage had obviously been lengthy in the making. We called him, ‘Spotty’.
Bali Street Dogs have historically been unfamiliar with human touch, a reality that had been the norm for hundreds of years as they existed with our species in a parallel fashion and balanced way.
Recently due to the outbreak of rabies on the island the dogs have been forced into contact with more and more humans but that bringing together has certainly not been in the way they or anyone would have really expected or wanted.
It is impossible to expect Bali Street Dogs to be like other dogs in regard to human touch, they do not seek it or come willingly for affection. That doesn’t make them better or worse than any other breed of dog; it’s just simply who they are and what they have been for a very long time. It’s not that they don’t like people if you look at it anthropomorphically; it’s just that they don’t really trust humans and who can seriously blame them for that.
So when a Bali Street Dog is forcibly collared and the necklace is tightened, especially when it is a young dog, the chance of removal as they grow is miniscule in the extreme. For a breed that had trust issues in the past, a whole new genetic line of present avoidance has now been created, complete with a mindset that will continue enacting itself into the future.
The adolescent black and white spotted Bali Street Dog had obviously had his yellow rabies collar placed upon him as a young puppy and as close as he would come unfortunately he couldn’t come close enough. Not close enough for contact, not near enough to grab his collar. Not within reach to cut the necklace that was eating through his fur, chewing into his neck.
Spotty disappeared before he could be cornered and netted once again. His fear was understandable; his fate undeniable.
A collar so tight has only one conclusion, infection and slow strangulation.
As one beautiful dog lay dying and as her devoted and loving handlers and companions worked tirelessly to resuscitate her, it became painfully and brutally apparent that even these incredibly skilled and compassionate vets and vet nurses could not bring back flesh and blood that had been broken and beaten by metal and machine.
Lucky died doing what she and all dogs love to do, run free.
In a world where death is a constant, life also battles to survive and unbeknown to everyone there was another existence only a short distance away that was desperately struggling to climb out of deaths clutches.
He became known as Forest and his life that day was saved in a drama that was dramatically played out in complete contrast to Lucky, but in spirit there was no difference.
He was spotted attempting to climb out of a drain with whatever small amount of energy he could muster. Dehydrated, emaciated and in obvious pain and distress, his suffering only became apparent when an animal welfare volunteer who had glimpsed him while speeding past on a motorcycle, stopped to investigate.
As the team went into action and gathered at the scene, Forests life that day was saved and no matter what outcome may await him, today was indeed his, “Lucky Day”.
As I watch the deep red blood, mix in with the green liquid I refer to as the "green dream", I cannot help but think of a lava lamp and how peaceful they were to watch, when I fell asleep at night as a child, I realize now that this is actually happening.
Her beautiful golden soft coat covers the needle in her vain, her head resting ever so gently on my leg and the sound of the heartbroken vet apologizing under his breath as the green substance enters her blood stream I find myself lost in a world where it is just us.
I stroke the kissable spot in between her eyes and try to swallow the big golf ball that has been sitting in my throat all day.
I watch as the intense twitch in her back leg that has caused her all this suffering begins to slow down and the thoughts of her leaving this world to explore another where pain and suffering does not exist, where no one can hurt her again and where she can finally run free, run rapidly through my head.
I feel her take a big breath, which is something I will forever remember, it was like a sigh of relief and just like that she was gone.
I hear the vet softly choke out the words, "I’m sorry Ivey" and I try once more to swallow that lump in my throat, but this time I had no strength left to do so.
I continue to stroke her warm peaceful body as I look over the beautiful rice paddies where the dragon flies gather to play, the refreshing fresh air that dries my tear stained checks blows so gently and I know now that it is time for me to leave.
I stand up and look down at the beautiful Golden Retriever who looks so peaceful, like she has finally relaxed and fallen into a forever sleep. I bend down and kiss the spot in between her eyes once more and feel the weight of the world being lifted off my shoulders knowing that she is now free, knowing that she had a fantastic last day laying under the cool stream of water as the other volunteers and I giggle and cool her down, being spoiled and fed all the treats we could possibly find in the clinic and getting all the love in the world.
Knowing that Goldy had left happy relaxed and content, made this hard time just that bit easier.
It really wasn’t that long ago that Bali Street Dogs were unencumbered by any tether, entrapment or necklace. The actual thought of restricting a free roaming anything is quite probably an obvious oxymoron, the intended action is a focused and deliberate mechanism to curtail movement. The result and consequence is not only a high degree of visual physical discomfort, it’s also a massive and generally unseen psychological torture that is much more difficult to fix. There is no justified reason for subjecting any species to such stress.
But then rabies officially arrived and a world of relativity for the Bali Street Dog changed into the new reality of fear and panic and paranoia. The looks of poison and pain pointed directly at them made them the pariah of paradise, the ugly untouchables. Being the host of a killer virus with the capacity to successfully infect one in three bitten victims and consign them to a demented death, is certainly not something that’s about to ramp up your canine popularity, especially when you’re image is already a growing issue in tourist popular locations.
So, a government introduced law brought a way of existence to the brink and with it the Bali Street Dog was about to learn a little of how many of its distant cousins in faraway lands had been living. The law clearly stipulated that if a dog was not chained, caged or at the very least collared, it would be deemed unowned and therefore would be subject to elimination. For the very first time in history, the Bali Street Dog found itself wearing collars, being placed on chains, but rarely caged – the cage is a prison saved for dogs that have value, the foreign breed dogs.
The rabies virus is probably as under control now as it’s ever going to be, it’s a debateable point to ponder if anything ever completely disappears or if it just waits until conditions are right to reappear in one form or another. But its reduction does not appear to have heralded the Bali Street Dogs return to their streets; in actuality it seems that they are becoming more and more constrained in their natural movements.
The introduction of foreign dogs certainly hasn’t been kind to the indigenous dogs on Bali, with an increasing number of Bali people being attracted by and turning to the imports in lieu of their own local brand. But as it turns out even these newbie’s are suffering similar consequences originating from being collared chained and caged, however the motivation is more about value and vanity than rabies and rights.
Are collars cages and chains the new paradigm for the Street Dogs on Bali, or will a new and informed view of this ancient breed, whose lineage is traced way back to the proto dog, raise them to an admired and protected position. Should they be elevated to such a level that could give them the rights they deserve and honourably enable and support them in making the adaptation involved to the obvious and rapid change under way?
Such a reality, that might just allow them the freedom to roam and the right to run.
The natural tendency of Bali Street Dogs is to be out and about at dawn and dusk. In between those zones they generally take rest and laze around, staying as much as possible clear of the energy sapping heat and humidity. In rain season the torrential precipitation usually drives them and everything else without gills under any available overhang.
But when the conditions are right no matter what the season, they really do appear to have a need to mingle with each other and on occasion create a modicum of mayhem. Many a person has been on a pleasant stroll, when quite all of a sudden they are literally faced with a mob of feral looking furry beasts, a collection of snarling curled lippers and a heap of hackled horror.
A pack of Bali Street Dogs has decided to take back the middle ground and put on a show. They all know each other of course because they live in the area and usually have homes from whence they have staggered out from. It’s their street and after a few hours of slumber it’s their time, which of course gives them the right, in their rightful opinion, to perform and pirouette. Of course in the main the mind numbing and literally limb numbing noise and fang gnashing is nothing more than that. The serious stuff, bloodletting, is usually reserved for interlopers, really unacceptable behaviour from a miscreant neighbour or the dreaded wrath of a rabies attack.
Bali Street Dogs live to be free, but it is easy to understand why they are becoming more and more curtailed due to the demands from more and more fearful tourists. But if you really stop and just watch what they do on their streets, it becomes so plain and so simple to see that it really is an amazing show between a pack of patriots out on the patch.
To consign anything to live behind a barrier or wall is bad enough, but to forcefully remove and imprison a proud and ancient pack to an existence of constrained boredom is just damn sad.
“Bali Jalan Anjing”.
Old dogs are like old people, they have lived long and seen a lot.
His retracted upper lip exposing a few remaining teeth, guttural snarl, cataract covered and glazed eyes and his general grumpiness are all displays that certainly don’t endear him to those who attempt to closely pass by.
This is probably why everything including mechanical beasts, give him a slow and wide circle. He has guarded his patch with a fervent and feisty determination, all the while fighting hard to protect his tenuous position and retain and remain in his resting place and sunny spot.
His is a level that commands respect from those made up of blood and bone, for his bodily scars show the telltale signs of battles fought, blood spilled and bone lost. He has certainly earned his badge of bombastic bravado and to date nothing has defeated him. But with a constant supply of contenders vying for his crown, it is an endless daily effort and struggle to stay in power against an ever changing line of lower command.
What he has seen through his young eyes over a lifetime of changing street development is impossible to know. What he must sense now through his aging nose is an invasion of strange and overwhelming stimuli.
Old dogs like old people don’t really ever die; they just pass on the experiences collected through life. This one old Bali Street Dog has recently fathered a progeny, a young and very lively puppy.
What an opportunity to pass on his skills. To mould and shape and groom, in his likeness.