The first time I went in to that house, with all these dogs barking around me, I feel warm. The house is unfinished, small, and very simple. Humbly standing in between rice field and banana trees. Small toilet, small kitchen, and 3 small bedrooms all built separately. Mosquitoes everywhere. Dirt on your feet. Noisy with all these barking. But everyone seemed happy.
The family who lived there, who successfully built this tender vibe of love that smother me right away when I entered their house, is as simple as the house. A father, a mother, a big brother and little sister. They live peacefully in the small compound. And amazingly. They take care of 35 dogs.
It began with a magical story of life saving, where an abandoned black puppy was taken while shivering on the street, into a hospital room where the little girl was treated for food poisoning. She had been unconscious for days, doctors said only miracle; miracle will save her. And this black puppy that broke hospital hygiene rules in his very early age, is in fact the little girl’s miracle. The little girl woke up right after the puppy was placed next to her arm, licking her all over with his tiny baby tongue. She came home with the puppy that later was called Selem (means Black in Balinese). Selem is her savior. The little girl - Gung Dewi - is forever thankful. And the family dedicated their life to save more abandoned dogs since.
More and more dogs were taken to the house. Small, big, abandoned, abused, mange, aggressive, with babies, you name it. They scooped them off the street, treat them with anyway the family can; looking for free rabies shot from the government, pulling out all the ticks off the skin, rub coconut oil on the mange, feed them with simple yet nutritious food, and of course shower them with a final formula that can heal everything; love. So when I visit the house, I cannot help but to feel amazed. The family does it with instinct. Just like what has been done to Bali Dogs by the ancestors. They know what to do with the dogs, how to approach the dogs, understand their behavior and body language. It is in the blood.
The second time I visited, I brought donation from thebalistreetdogs; rice, dogfood and some eggs. I still grasped the same feeling. Only with a lot more dogs to welcome me.
That day, February 15th was the day where Gung Dewi met Selem for the first time, in that hospital room. They celebrate it every year, never get enough of thanking Selem that literally saved her life. How awesome is that? The mother prepared tumpeng, a traditional cone of turmeric rice with some eggs, chicken and peanuts put around it. It is used as the ‘cake’ of a special event in Indonesia, and I just witnessed it is used to honor a dog. Once we prayed together, Gung Dewi took the top of the tumpeng and hand fed it to Selem. He ate it gracefully, and soon after, the other dogs came to ask for some too.
Gung Dewi was drowned in the celebration and tens of dogs’ feet and mouths, asking for the tumpeng too. She was laughing and hand fed each of them one by one. She didn’t even miss the tiny ones in between the bigger dogs’ legs. And to be able to see that was a beautiful feeling. My heart was full.
The commitment they have to take care of the dogs is insane. While many of us still stressed out by taking care of 1 or 2 dogs when they became too ‘handful’ for us, or when we think it is just too much, this family did it with 35-ish dogs, in a very little things they have. Even before help came to them, they have done it with no fuss. When we are too worried if the dogs have enough peas in their food or if the dogs allergic to cotton in their bed, this family kept it simple. And the dogs are happy nevertheless.
Because a dog saved their life, and they saved many dogs back in return. As simple as that. They do not have much, but they care. They do not know much, but they do it with love.
Indeed everyone needs a savior at least once in their life time, but little that we know, that savior could be in the form of a dog.