When you forget that you know it all and listen loudly to what already is you can influence positive change.
We are proud and excited to announce that www.thebalistreetdog.com in partnership with Yayasan Seva Bhuana, will be presenting at Asia for Animals Conference 2017 in Kathmandu, Nepal!
In line with the conference theme (Changing Human Behaviour) our presentation ‘Culture makes a dog’s breakfast out of Strategy’ focuses on the need to work within cultural context when trying to influence human behavioural change in a way that improves the lives of animals.
It will be a pleasure and honour to co-present with Agra Utari, who with Ina Karina and Yogi Antari created and founded Yayasan Seva Bhuana.
Together we will be proud to represent the magnificent Bali Dog, and to celebrate its unique place within a unique culture.
For the past three years I have had the privilege of leading and working for Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities (AMRRIC). A unique not for profit organisation that works with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities supporting and empowering self-determined animal management programs. As I wound up my last week, packed up my office and said my farewells I reflected on my learnings, my actions and how true I had been to my internal values during my tenure as the organisations CEO.
The organisations method for working with communities is how AMRRIC speaks its truth. There is no lip service paid in the use of words such as ‘enabling’, ‘empowering’ or capacity building. Words and statements that frequently appear on Facebook pages and within the fundraising asks of many other similarly visioned organisations.
AMRRIC does not use images of damaged or sick animals as these are seen to be visual missives of shame towards the people within the communities the animals come from. AMRRIC’s focus is on the positive, the positive work, those times when people do the ‘right’ thing – their right thing, not the right thing as determined by white Australian cultural norms. The culture of the communities is honoured, not questioned, not judged, but listened to and respected. The communities teach the visiting veterinarians and educators how to work effectively in their space. AMRRIC staff and volunteers are not the experts and do not know best.
Because of the way that AMRRIC approaches its work the communities return the respect. They know that their cultural norms will not be questioned, judged and deemed to be wrong. They will, instead, be embroidered into the design of any animal management program. This then determines the success of an individual program and the sustainability of programs in the long term.
This approach also influences positive behavioural change as people gain more knowledge and skills about options that are open and available to them in managing their companion animal populations. AMRRIC does not work with one or two animals, AMRRIC works with the entire community, the people and their animals. The interconnectedness of the animal-human relationship is such that you cannot hope to achieve change by isolating your work and focus on only one part of the equation.
What AMRRIC does is recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities have their own relationship and cultural connections with their companion animals and seeks to recognise, explore and understand that connection and then work to build upon what already exists to enable people to care for their animals, their way.
Other organisations all over the world would do well to listen and learn from an organisation like AMRRIC. The model it uses works, albeit slowly, but it works. If you are serious about influencing long term, positive change for the wellbeing of people and animals then there is simply no room for white knights, no room for shaming people for not caring for their animals, or for using poverty porn pictures of hairless puppies to guilt funds from arm chair warriors, and there is absolutely no room for provocative imagery and language dripping with ethnocentrism.
I look back on my time with AMRRIC with pride and a sense of great accomplishment and leave knowing that I have remained true to my values and I have learned more than I imparted and for that I am grateful.
It’s very easy to get caught up in negativity, there’s certainly enough of it going on globally to grind down even those with the most positive of outlooks. Like a Bali dog caught in a net, submission to the negative aspects of local canine life on Bali is also inevitable. Dogs are still being eaten, still being dumped, poisonings still occur, a very good friend had five die by deliberate poisoning recently and foreign breed dogs are still swamping the Island.
To make matters even more precarious, Gunung Agung decided to throttle up activity. The very real and very present threat has forced thousands of Bali people who reside in danger zones around the largest most sacred active volcano on Bali to flee their homes and leave their primarily local dogs behind. They did not abandon their homes and animals and it can only be hoped that Bali people and their Island dogs can be reunited soon and continue their lives under on and around Agung.
Yet as is the way on Bali, each dark has a corresponding light and a looming volcanic eruption has certainly brought out positive aspects of the Bali people Bali dog ancient and enduring relationship. There are certainly enough reported numbers of dogs who live with families on the slopes of Agung to conclude that their symbiosis is certainly very well and intact.
Bali has a reputation involving flow and balance. All things happen for reasons seen and unseen. Dogs and people make up part of a whole energy that pervades what is considered to be one of the most spiritual Island locations on planet Earth.
Bali people present a calm outward persona, even when faced with crises that would flatten most other Nationalities. Foreigners are referred to as emotional, given their propensity to exhibit openly loud physical outbursts in times of similar stress. Bali dogs, for those who have lived with them, also project a canine version of calmness. How could they not, they are of Bali, it’s in their DNA. Foreign dogs also exhibit unfamiliar behaviours, making them very unpredictable. There will of course be a great many who say that Bali dogs are aggressive unsocialized ill-mannered beasts.
One of the reasons the Rabies virus was so terrifying for Bali people, apart from the very real threat of a very horrific death, was the obvious change in their dog’s behaviour, behaviour changes that were never seen in a thousand year relationship that relied on stability reliability security and surety.
So, with reflection and mindfulness, this website was originally created to simply celebrate the unique Bali Dog and their equally unique relationship with Bali People. Many things have changed, more than most people could have ever imagined. But the relationship between dog and people has endured even in the face of all the unimaginable stuff.
Good things are still happening and against all odds Bali dogs are still there, still doing what they have always done. They really do rock in the canine world.
P.S. Breathe like a Bali Dog.
There’s always an ongoing war being waged when it comes to anything welfare. So it’s not surprising at all that when it comes to animal welfare, battles within battles collide for space in what is a very messy and emotionally charged and littered theatre of action. The Bali dog environment is a concertinaed version. A very overcrowded and cramped physical space, inhabited by a lot of suffering dogs and a growing number of fanatical humans fighting for recognition and rights.
Animals Australia recently went full scale, full bore and full frontal at and about the dog meat trade, representing primarily Bali dogs as their rationale for opening up a very nasty scab and letting the pus flow. Since the exposure went public there has been continued debate and chatter in regard to how successful the campaign would be, could be and actually has been. No one could argue that the action of Animals Australia in exposing and subsequently bringing such a horrific practice to worldwide attention was certainly justified.
However it’s been observed lately, that there is a simmering movement, a murmur of sorts, a building disquiet rapidly approaching a screeching scowl. Questions are being asked, accusations are being lobbed and explanations are being demanded, as to the true intent behind Animals Australia and its strategy.
Transparency is always, unfortunately always, a very fluid medium. In reality it’s always in the eye of the individual beholder and unfortunately it all depends on how the holder is placing his or her eye.
Animals Australia will of course answer the questions asked at a time and place of their choosing, it’s their ball and their game, at this point.
All organizations should freely and widely open up their books for total unadulterated uncontaminated and transparent viewing, especially those who purport to be for not profit. Those who don’t or refuse to do so should be strongly encouraged to do so by their followers.
Unfortunately as in all welfare schemes there are many scams, many fronting as legitimate well-meaning organizations, with slick presentations and even slicker founders and followers. Many of these get away with the charade, plainly because their followers are so far and deeply duped down the line, that the real truth would be way too confronting and embarrassing.
Only time will tell if Animals Australia has joined the long conga line of conning and fooling the masses or in proving that their intent was genuine. Even if it turns out that not one single RW restaurant is shut down, if Animals Australia can show through their honest and transparent responses and actions that they had and have and will continue to fight for Bali dogs and Bali people, then transparency has not been shredded.
As for all those other organizations involved in the Bali dog war of tug and shove. Let the rightful questions being asked and targeted at Animals Australia be a very sobering and salient warning.