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.
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