In speaking of isolation we refer to evidence that shows the prize factor behaviour associated with ‘owning’ a canine other than a lokal dog. Bali dogs are not isolation items, they are valueless. Foreign imported and now Island born specialized breed canines have unfortunately become such.
Evidence appears to show that there has been a shift from unaware, unconscious and what many believe to be an uncaring relationship in respect to lokal Bali dog to a fully aware, conscious and caring position when it comes to new and fashionable breeds. When attempting to examine and observe the deeper facets in the ancient Bali dog Bali people relationship this shift creates a dichotomy between what was a stable relationship for so long and what has so recently changed. It makes understanding how decisions are made somewhat more confusing and insightful clarity in respect of how choices are made more difficult and cloudy.
The battle for hearts and minds in the welfare field will always be driven by emotion. Welfare is by its very nature emotive and there really isn’t any other way to kick the ball around other than with feeling, thoughts, and resultant actions.
Beyond the no-win positioning there are realities that continue to throw up many more painful questions than soothing answers. For those in the Rescue and Re-home (R&R) arena the frustration faced on a daily basis inevitably takes a heavy toll and good news or positive outcomes are always outweighed by constant incoming pain. There are most certainly endless things that strike at the heart, tear at the soul and render answers redundant in the face of an avalanche of equally endless questions.
As Bali continues its move to an increasing commodity consumer reality, life for all canines will bend toward isolation, not unlike those countries that demand stricter regulations on all things dog related. More and more dogs, especially non lokal, are already behind gates walls or chained. The reasons are obvious, when seen from a development point of view, yet also complex when viewed from the wealth of historical evidence that points directly to free roaming. There are of course positive and negative outcomes dependent on where you sit on the welfare spectrum.
What and how this shifting has impacted the lokal Bali dog Bali people relationship is really unknown at this early evolution. They and their dog are still cohabiting. A need to continue the union still appears to be evident and their viewpoint of each other appears to be unchanged.
In this consumption fueled driven era where value and greed are one of the many new age Gods, everything is fast becoming about showing off ones wealth and newly elevated status. This show of valued items is of course nothing new and Balinese people are by no means immune when it comes to publicly presenting who has the biggest, best and latest stuff. Unfortunately when it comes to new and different non-animate objects such as sentient beings there can be so much more involved, especially when there are no easy step by step instruction manuals to guide a novice.
Sadly, evidence has already shown that as time goes by many of these valued unfamiliar and foreign items become isolated in a variety of ways. Chained caged and enclosed are physical manifestations employed when something you don’t understand becomes too difficult to handle. Emotional stress and boredom becomes the torturous mind map with no way out.
For thousands of years and endless generations Bali people had nothing to think about when it came to their Indigenous dog. Valueless in monetary terms yet valued for their service, Bali dogs and Bali people in communities simply survived together in the way their forebears had always done.
Bali dogs and Bali people fit together whether they are aware or not. Their need for and reliance upon each other is a mutually binding contract with absolutely no value at all other than one needs the other to feel complete.
Their relationship is a mystery spanning lifetimes. It is a relationship that can never be seen or placed in isolation.
If by normal dogs you are referring to domesticated dogs that people have as pets in Western type societies then Bali Dogs are different and are not ‘normal dogs’.
Genetic testing has determined their DNA makeup is different (research exists to evidence this) and their behaviour is very different, more similar to the Australian Dingo than to any domestic dog. They are not strays, they are free roaming dogs. There is a distinct difference.
Given that there are over 4 million people on the Island of Bali and an indeterminate but very high dog population there is no doubt that people regularly get bitten by Bali Dogs. However contrary to popular belief they do not roam in packs attacking people. If they did they would be killed by local people very quickly. Balinese people have lived parallel with these dogs for thousands of years. Complicated rituals exist that assist an owner to determine the personality of their dog. There are ancient scriptures that provide a Balinese dog pedigree describing the measurements and body posture necessary for particular types of dog. Bali dogs have an important place within culture, providing security in the physical and spiritual realms. They feature in mythology and are essential as a sacrifice in some ceremonies. It is important to note that, to their people, they are first and foremost working dogs.
The change in attitude towards the dogs is multifaceted and complex. Almost simultaneously, a decade ago, the following occurred:-
In the rural areas of Bali the dogs live with and alongside their people as they have for thousands of years. In the urban, tourist areas of the island conflicts occur between expats and locals and the dogs are sometimes subject to cruelty and neglect.
As is the case with all things human, people do not appreciate what they have until it is taken from them. The Balinese do not understand the uniqueness of their Indigenous dog because it has always been there.
The work of Yayasan Seva Bhuana and www.thebalistreetdog.com is designed to remind Balinese people just how exceptional the dog they share their lives with is and to educate non Balinese people about the relationship.