Human existence had increasingly been predicated on surface reality. This is not the reality of life.
Having disconnected, checked out from the inescapable reality of interconnectedness we had ‘unknowingly’ imprisoned our whole species way before a novel Coronavirus slammed the door and locked us down and in.
Two years is a very light sentence for the unfathomable crimes we all inflicted upon life. Life outside our arrogant stance was/is bigger greater and much more powerful than our insatiable consumer driven emotions could ever begin to conceive. Our rational perceptions were subjected to a tsunami of pleasure. Swimming, luxuriating yet ultimately drowning in a whirlpool of decedent, hedonistic never satisfied urges. Constantly reaching for that first hit our addiction to stuff was on a train wreck, doomsday, awful and tragic crunching stop. Covid-19 wasn’t/isn’t personal, it hasn’t gone away, its still here to remind us, nudge, poke, alert and when the human made conditions are ‘right’ it and/or other messages will be delivered, and they are likely to be carrying and spreading much stronger consequences than SARS-CoV-2.
Bali is very quiet; many businesses are closed temporarily/permanently, and sale/lease signs are very common. Yet there are many establishments open and ‘thriving,’ such has been the brutal swath the pandemic has cut and levelled on this Island. This scene has been reflected around the planet, yet each nation, region, city, town, suburb, village, family, couple, and individual has felt completely and terrifyingly alone and isolated. The rallying anthem of ‘we are all in this together’ was Humanities greatest moment and ultimate chance to recognize what this ‘event’ was all about. It was our collective opportunity to evolve, to leap to that next level, to take our place at the real-world level table and consume only what we need and not gorge on our never ever ending wants, urges. To deal with our destructive greed. We failed, not because we are stupid. Its just very simply. It's our nature.
Tourists are returning to Bali and that promise and commitment to come back will give Bali people hope and faith that they are not alone, that they and their Island matters. If all stays on track the Island will be back to pre-2019 pumping levels within 12 months if not before. Whether that is good or bad is not an argument worth having at all. Bali people have/are struggling and suffering terribly. Everything and nothing has/is changed, it feels like we left the room and immediately stepped back in. Bali as an Island is as it’s always been, smells the same, looks the same, vibrates the same. Except all the stuff is not there and again its open to opinion whether its good bad or whatever. The reception on returning was beautifully warm gracious and humble. And the weather is also great. Its not the Bali of old, it’s the Bali of real and it and the people of Bali fully deserve our full attendance, respect, understanding, empathy, and love for what we have all been through together.
Its good to be back.
Every moment every day
‘For now, I will sit in my village by my lake under my volcano. For
now, I will be what I am. A simple Bali dog, doing no harm.’
Japano died today.
In a village, by a lake, under a volcano she ended her amazing life. She found safety, stability, surety, security, peace, happiness, love, and contentment. She found home.
Thank you so much Nyoman and family for the love and care you gave Japano. She didn’t trust many humans, but she completely trusted you with her life and her death. She found her best friend.
Thank you so much Agra and your team for all your kind assistance and for giving Japano a peaceful exit. Our appreciation is unlimited.
Briedhe. We are eternally indebted to you for bringing Japano into our lives. She will always be your twisted sister. She will be your air. We share your sorrow and joy for what she constantly gave and for what we will forever miss. We have and will always be truly blessed to have known her.
Japano. With unconditional love. Thank you so much for it all. You were a true professional Bali Street Dog. May you live on as your journey continues and may you run eternally free.
This latest pandemic has exposed human truths. Not my truth, your truth, just an absolute verifiable truth. Truth about discrimination, inequality, ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, and short term vested interests from individuals, societies, and nations. In 18 months, a blinding microscopic light has unveiled it all.
The destruction to relationships on every level is not really that surprising. Neither is the embarrassing truth that a golden opportunity for humans to get over our collective ego has been squandered, trampled, and ultimately wasted.
Connections that survived have faced a period of inner outer examination and reflection.
Bali has not escaped the avalanche of agony that this pandemic has inflicted, even though there was a period in 2020 when many believed the Island had some magical immunity. Their self-assured hubris was severely shaken when the Delta strain literally spiked that mystical bubble. What resulted was an explosive terrifying reality.
Relationships have and continue to be infected with the same pain that is being observed worldwide. The marketed myth that Balinese are, within their unique cultural context, somehow special or free from the reality of this global disease is insulting. They hurt the same as the rest.
There will be much to reflect on when we collectively attempt to put some semblance of order into our future lives. There will be reunions and remembrances and grief will shadow our tentative steps as we rejoin our broken bits.
For many the pandemic cycle has already turned, and they have moved on. For many more the circle has closed, they are statistics, numbered victims of this crushing event. And there are those who against all odds have maintained and strengthened distant relationships while awaiting their reconnection.
When a future restoration of our lives happens, it can only be hoped that what was old strong and stable in our past relationships will move new easily and peacefully into our together futures.
As a global pandemic ravages the lives of billions and with no quick end in sight there is growing rage about the unfathomable instability it has brought.
Bali has been slammed back to a time that few remember. When life was ‘simpler slower less unpredictable.’ Given where the island was headed pre pandemic, gridlocked traffic, hedonistic tourist hordes and general degradation of life sustaining resources, there are many who would say that such a disruption is a good thing. But this time is most definitely not that time. For sure there are subsistence areas on Bali where supporting oneself and community at a minimal level is and has always been a reality. But for millions right here and right now that ‘lifestyle’ is not a choice, it’s the intolerable and only reality.
What does this brutal retraction mean for Bali dogs? The indigenous island canine is semi feral. Their connection to humans has always been symbiotic, a mutually beneficial relationship. This union isn’t even thought about, it just simply is and has always simply been. But like any simple relationship, complexity and harmonious balance is the daily background hard work that is the world of unseen. Bali and her people are most certainly not simple and their balance on the forces of unseen and unknown complexities are most painfully tested at this time.
What affects Bali people will undoubtedly influence Bali dogs. No matter how resourceful Bali dogs have proven to be, they are still reliant on a food source that accompanies community life. Scraps and ceremonial leftovers have sustained their survival. They are genetically designed to survive on very little. But the breakdown in balanced community existence resulting from the effect(s) this pandemic has and continues to inflict will push the canine/human relationship to places it has never been. The consequences will be unseen to most, they have much more to worry about than a lowly insignificant dog.
Bali dogs are unencumbered from the ‘seen’ burdens that weigh heavily upon their human companions. However, they are sentient beings with feelings emotions and memories and even though superficially it may appear that the quietening on their environment may be to their advantage the reality could be opposite and disturbing.
Everything about this time is unfamiliar and unknown and it can only be hoped that the ancient Bali people Bali dog relationship can endure. Even if they don’t consciously know it, they are reliant on each other.
One without the other is not whole.
There are billions of us dog worshipping humans who connect more with a lowly canine than with our own species. Its not that surprising to us that trusting a dog far outweighs believing that our human compatriots have anything, but their best interests hidden behind a multitude of faces and manufactured guises. That is most certainly not to say that dogs do not have their priorities on full show, that is the ‘beauty’ bestowed in their nature. You really do get what you see. For those of us who have in their professional lives ‘worked’ with humans, a certain cynicism inevitably creeps in and a trained eye in human nature leaves one with no doubt that we cannot be trusted. That is not to say that all of humanity is self-serving but as history has shown and this pandemic has proved we are genetically hard wired to survive and if needs be, screw the rest.
Street dogs are a whole other level of canine. Their ability to be nimble, resourceful, alert, and tenacious in daily survival is unmatched. Bali dogs are not like any other dog, they are dogs that have adapted to Island conditions and the expectations of Bali people. They have exceptionally long memories, and their reading of human behaviour and intentions has been honed over thousands of years of selective breeding.
But they do live for now because that really is all there is. They are most certainly sentient and their advantage over us lowly humans is that they probably do not actually know that. They are just dogs, doing what dogs do, just being.
If they are fortunate, they will bond with a human and/or a family of humans. The actual lucky ones are the humans who have gained a being that will protect their cross-species family to the death. A being that will give comfort, companionship, and affection without even thinking about it.
This pandemic has shone a very bright spotlight on and into the nature of humans. It is highly unlikely that Bali dogs are aware of any change, as it is also beyond expectation that the rest of nature is aware of humanity tearing itself apart. Nature and Bali dogs just do what they do. It is plainly and evidently clear that their actions are vastly purer in collective terms than the selfish gene that is the weakness and flaw in us.
I have no doubt when we reconnect with the Bali dogs that we have journeyed with that they will recognise us. Not from a visual field but from an energetic memory imprint that we humans have little respect or understanding of.
Anthropomorphising anything is an arrogant human perspective. Othering anything else than human and imbuing it/they with human characterisations is the height of human hubris and ownership. Understanding Bali dogs also requires an acceptance of how Bali people see their Bali dogs. And for most foreigners the concept that Bali people and Bali dogs are a whole of Island life is virtually impossible.
In a year that has been like no other we would so much rather be like and with ‘our’ Bali dogs.
They are truly Hindus in furry form.
In the human realm what matters is completely individualistic. What matters more/most is still an individual viewpoint. However, the more and most damaging consequences of our actions can also be confronted and agreed upon from a collective judgment and agreement.
‘Do no harm,’ seems such a naïve and foolish statement to make, especially in these times of torturous upheaval and mind-bending instability. The legacy and history of human destruction is being recorded in real time. We are breaking it up and apart as we are going.
Bali dogs will never be most dominant on this planet and no one in their objective mind would posit that it would be nirvana. With a world full of carnivorous, wilful, cavorting canines rampaging across the globe the probability for destruction would be quite high. But it would come nowhere near to what humans have done. The Dinosaurs were huge, with enormous footprints, were around and dominant for 165 million years, yet achieved nothing close to the damage we have unleashed in our 6 million years. While humans continue to rule over what has become our collective ruin, nothing else has a chance to match our ‘intelligence.’ No other sentience will arise while humans continue to rape, pillage, and plunder a life force we all depend upon.
What matters most because nothing matters more is remarkably simple. The survival of nature and the billions of other inhabitants on this planet.
Many have quite justifiably given up on species human and who could really be blamed for such a viewpoint. When it comes to continued destruction, given our self-serving nature, it is nearly impossible to argue against the reality of what we have done and what we are still very capable of doing.
There are billions of humans attempting to make life ‘better.’ Better for themselves and other beings by behaving in ways that do no harm or as little harm as possible. Unfortunately, the war on each other has spilled over, directly onto and into every other life form.
There is much to learn from the toughness and resilience of dogs. Be they Balinese, Indian, Australian and all other indigenous canines, their connection to a bigger greater meaning and purpose is legendary and proven. They have not lost their way, its instinctual for them to maintain balance for survival. We have systematically squeezed and removed their ability to sustain a way of life that was beneficial to all.
In the reality we are all living through now, what matters most when nothing appears to matter?
In these times of torturous upheaval and mind-bending instability, continuing to do harm is naïve, foolish, and selfish. It is continuing a one-way, narrow minded path to global destruction.
We may not be able to save ourselves, even with our big brains. We are not to be trusted. Our survival, on the trajectory we refuse to change, will accelerate species extinction.
Now more than ever before.
Give me the company of Bali dogs.
Give me the company of humans who live in the company of Bali dogs.
Give me the ability to think like a Bali dog.
For many reasons, this disruptive event with its unfathomable consequences has brought the human species to its quaking knees.
The level of physical and psychological suffering for Bali and her inhabitants will most probably never be fully known. On an Island that lives by strict ancient cultural rituals ceremonies and norms, stigma, shame, fear and loss of face, are non-negotiable realities.
The consequences of this sudden shocking change and eruptive stoppage to what was a full-on frenetic tourist driven economy has been so much worse than any Volcanic burp. No matter what future normal will look like, for those on Bali, life will never be the same.
For those of us who cannot be on Bali for one reason and many others, it is a very painful torn reality. If Bali opens the door and allows you into her house, you will have a home forever. You will become intertwined in her family; she will protect and nurture your soul and feed your spirit. She will never forget your kindness; she will repay you with mutual respect. Watching, waiting, worrying from afar, concerned for those you know and love, while longing for belonging, is quite an ‘exquisite’ pain.
There are absolutely no doubts that Bali dogs are suffering from the fallout and unfortunately their sentience will not provide immunity against the emotional reality. They are innocent in this human made disaster but there is no escape. The pain of not being with those amazing canines who have shelter, food, warmth, care, safety and love, is for now outweighed by the pleasure of one small light in a global period of darkness.
If a Bali dog chomps metaphorically into your heart and Bali bites deep within your soul, there can never be total disconnection.
A semi-feral animal lives predominantly in a feral state but has some contact and experience with humans.
‘I do not have any worries regarding how they will survive because Bali dogs will always find a way to do it. But the ones that cannot be controlled; virus, disease and overpopulation are really impacting the whole system. A major concern is a future resurgence of the terrifying Rabies virus.’ Agra Utari
Bali dogs are semi-feral, their food source comes from human leftovers. Whether they forage for scraps or are directly offered food they have been interconnected with humans since whenever. By collective design and mindset, the relationship with their island humans is well documented and is proven to be symbiotic in nature.
In a COVID reality, Bali dogs who permanently reside in rural areas and village settings appear to be little if any affected. Their daily existence appears to be running to normal Banjar routines, rituals and ceremonies. The main change has been an influx of family members who have lost their jobs in tourism and those returning from docked cruise ships. Of course, this human increase will affect availability of food offered but can also increase scrap availability. Their urban compatriots may not fare so well, especially if the virus continues to shut down the island regarding incoming international tourists.
Over the past 20ish years foreign tourist numbers have exploded exponentially on an island that was ill-equipped to sustain the year by year increase. The Bali Street (Urban) Dog is a true street fighter/survivor but even their genetic tenacity could not withstand the tsunami of tourist footfall. They were driven out, poisoned and retreated to back alleys, family compounds and open space beach areas. Their numbers decreased drastically. The madness of money easily ruled over meaningless mutt.
International, local and individual dedicated street feeders have consistently topped up food that was unavailable to those dogs left roaming an ever-encroaching urban concrete jungle. Their efforts in most cases kept the population stable and prevented an inevitable total collapse and in effect an eradication of the Island dog in those areas.
With the shuttering of a tropical island hot spot and the drying up of donation funding to organizations and individuals it is inevitable that Bali dog numbers will increase. Their breeding cycle is biannually, and each bitch can deliver 4-6 pups. With sterilization programmes curtailed or cancelled the explosion of canine population could be impressive, to say the least. If COVID world continues as is for another 12 months the increase in Bali dog numbers could go a long way to replenishing what was killed off before during and after the Rabies virus incursion.
With an unimaginable reduction in all manner of traffic on usually year-round teeming roads and byways it is inevitable that Bali dogs will begin to wander out and test before feeling free to use the space and do what street dogs do. Roam and forage. Reports worldwide show animals taking up the space left by mass human social distancing.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may end up being a gift for the re-population and natural free roaming instinctive/lifestyle for the Bali Indigenous Street/Urban Dog. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) if extended by months or years thereby horrifically exacerbating the already economic and emotional torment could very well herald not only the collapse of a unique ancient human way of life but put the already endangered Bali street dog firmly in the cross hairs. Add the planets most ancient and long-lasting virus (Rabies) to the mix and you have an unthinkable disaster that would make the Rabies fear on Bali 2010 look like a picnic.
There are endless amounts of questions in this fast changing COVID world reality that is throwing any sense of human normality out of control. In a very real sense, we are all semi-feral. Contact with and dependency on each and all others is unavoidable for survival.
History will tell the latest story of the Bali dog journey in a COVID world. Bali Street Dog and Bali Rural Dog are genetically one and the same. For now, both are at the fate of a virus that is using human to human vectoring to spread its disease.
It is hoped that the ancient bond between human and canine can withstand its greatest test. A global pandemic that is driving connection between all beings further and further apart.
Harboured in a microscopic message, with an accompanying blunt abrupt blunderbuss method of delivery, COVID-19 really is the 21st century gift that just keeps on giving. No matter the position you take, it has undeniably brought us all to a shock inducing crunching reality. The normal life we all had, is finished. We are all in natures waiting room.
Liminal. 1. Relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. 2. Occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
For those of the canine comfort persuasion, now more than ever having a furry around can be of immense satisfaction. At a point in our evolutionary filthy lives, when we are encouraged to stay away from our disdainful mucus swapping fellow species, having a dog around is a soothing balm, a prescribed poultice of pooch.
For the shitload of us humans who have found ourselves separated, by circumstance or choice, from our best friends, our discombobulated psyche is left splattering around like a hot Coronavirus in all manner of protective mask wear.
The Bali dogs that we have shared our lives with are fine fed and beautifully cared for. They are fortunate in the environment they are currently in. Their canine reality is akin to the innocence naivety and illusion afforded human children before awareness kicks in and the reality of life begins its inexorable march. It is that other bestowed gift before real befalls their bipedal elders.
When we will be with our canine compatriots is literally a very liquid question, its like nailing water to a wall. The answer now firmly sits within the human realm and we all now most certainly know how unpredictable that reality is.
Living in the moment is the gift that Bali dogs and children attempt to teach. Being in the moment in the age of COVID is not something that comes easy to a race that threw off natures rules and slammed repeatedly through one unlawful wall after another.
So, until the moment we are reunited with our Bali dogs, we will remember and relive the moments already gone and wait in the space between, looking forward to what will be.
We wish the same for all who are in Liminal.
Before her feet touched earth, she was reaching, connecting with fur.
Her time with three Bali dogs began as an inquisitive baby. A period where she learned limits boundaries and those especially important canine/ human rules, Bali style. Their connection has endured and as the dogs have aged, she has moved into a childhood that is being shaped and influenced by an interdependent relationship. Their symbiotic union has been naturally fostered by the environment she lives in and gently guided by older humans.
Bali dogs are genetically designed to be community members, to fit in with the rhythm and flow of Balinese life. Fine tuning has been going on for thousands of years, an unconscious coupling of human and canine, their conjoined survival was/is dependent on collective safety. Bali dogs free roaming instinct/tendency has always been predicated upon a no aggression, swift punishment rule.
Their designated duties became a bloodline intelligence. Alert on any incoming threats, guard against any intruder type, clean up/control waste, companion/protector for family, play source for children.
The relationship of dogs and children is not unique, it is an incredibly important stage in childhood development. It is universally accepted that in most child/dog unions, a more empathetic human adult has emerged.
It is hoped that what three dogs and one child will gain from their ongoing relationship will simply be nothing more than what it is.
An opportunity to positively grow from their experience, in their ongoing ancient and historically unique Balinese way.