LOVE IS A DISEASE – By Agra Utari
Because love is contagious. It beams warmly, reaching through the cold souls.
Much evidence shows that compassion is contagious to your nearest ones. It infects each of the individuals. Here I will tell you a story of my own father, a middle-aged man who was in his elder years, who surprised me with his story.
As a Balinese and growing up in family of farmers, my Dad always had a dog or two, either to stay in the field or to guard the house. These Bali Dogs with their loyalty would do their job without hesitation or training. Fed daily with a simple meal from family. As a Balinese, of course my Dad strongly believed about universe calculation from our ancestors, that there is always a good day for everything (includes the perfect day to take a new dog home), dog characterization based on their length or physical appearance. I too, have been used to it.
Growing up with dogs made me really close to them. Until one day when I was still a little girl, I found a puppy fallen into the gutter, cold, alone and dirty. I took him home and cleaned him. I took one of my clothes from the drawer and wrapped him up. My Dad knew it, and he was furious. Though he had lived with dogs all his life, all dogs that enter the house should be under his permission.
I persistently stood my ground, and so did my stubborn Dad. I ended up finding that puppy a new home, but day by day I kept coming back with new ones that I found everywhere. And that always ended up with a scene.
Years gone by I worked in an animal welfare organization. Without me realizing, Dad whom I told about these rescue stories, sad news, happy endings during my work time, started to pay attention to the street animals he saw.
One day, one adult dog in that organization needed a home. No one wanted to adopt her because she was half blind. Adult white female dog, a bit unfriendly, named Nyunyu. I told her story to my Dad and surprisingly, he said, “You can give her to me.”
And so it went. Nyunyu stayed in My Dad’s school, with a guarantee of extra large fenced yard, friendly school citizens and unlimited supply of food. I took her to my Dad and they just bonded. They were so close together, that when my father needed to move to another school due to his finished position there, he still kept feeding her whenever he could.
Unfortunately, on New Year’s Eve 2017, Nyunyu went missing. My Dad tried to look for her and asked around, but no one seemed to know where she was. Some people though, said that she was seen in the next village, which is also my Dad’s hometown. Still, My Dad couldn’t find her.
A month passed, it seemed like my Dad had given up. He just hoped that Nyunyu was okay, that she had food and a place to stay. He was just worried that no one would like Nyunyu as she is half blind. Dad’s activities were back to normal, and he went to his hometown sometimes for ceremony.
Also on a very normal day, my Dad rushed back to his car after some ceremonies in his village. And at that very moment, he saw a white dog, sleeping next to his car. It was Nyunyu! Nyunyu looked up and jumped at my Dad. He still couldn’t believe his eyes but then immediately looked for food to feed her. Other street dogs around the area growled at Nyunyu, meaning that she needed to leave. My Dad tried to take Nyunyu into the car but she refused and was too scared. No leash, no rope, nothing.
My Dad tried another way. He got in the car and drove as slowly as possible while he kept calling Nyunyu from inside. Without hesitation, Nyunyu followed his car. He drove less than 20km per hour, headed to the school where Nyunyu belonged. It was almost smooth if not too many street dogs blocked her and shooed her away. Nyunyu turned back and ran away from Dad’s car.
Dad stopped his car, turned back chasing Nyunyu, and started all over again.
But with too many dogs in the street, she was too scared to pass. Village street dogs are godfathers. They are the best street fighters, so Nyunyu chose to be submissive. Seeing her panic and shivering, Dad got out of his car and approached Nyunyu. She waited.
Then, my Dad decided to walk with Nyunyu to school, from his hometown.
He tried to protect Nyunyu from the street dogs as she stepped into their territory. It kind of reminded me when he protected me from the mean frogs in our backyard when I was a kid. Nyunyu believed in him with her whole heart, and followed him. He walked for three kilometers straight, (just) for a dog, leaving my Mum and his car for a while.
Arriving at the school, Nyunyu seemed happy. She ran back and forth to school and my Dad. The school janitor was happy to see her, and promised to look after her better. He then drove my Dad back to his car, and Dad stopped by the school once again to make sure that Nyunyu was okay.
It was a happy ending, but what is happier is how a small gesture that was seen and heard persistently could make a big impact in other living being’s life. I picked up dogs on the street, told their stories to my Dad, and eventually he did the same thing. Even more dedicated than I am. Now he would stop the whole traffic to let a puppy cross, something that he wouldn’t do before.
While I only affected one person, he affected the whole school. Seeing him gathering bones and rice leftovers from the school canteen for Nyunyu, now the students did not finish their lunch on purpose – so they can feed Nyunyu and other dogs too. Seeing him regularly buying nasi campur (mixed rice with eggs and meat) in the market, the seller prepared food for the market dogs too. Seeing Nyunyu’s love to my Dad, they went back home and did the same with their dogs.
Now in his new school, my Dad also adopted one street dog that hangs around there. And he already infected the virus to the school by his amazing animal-human bond. This dog brings a present to him every day (flower, leaves, offerings, etc), follows him around like a personal assistant, jumping and howling when he arrives. And that is just because My Dad feeds him once a day. Now, everyone in that school treats the dogs around them the same. Giving their leftovers, just like what we have done to these Bali Dogs years ago.
Educating is not always about talking what is right and what is not in front of people. We basically have the ability to separate right from wrong, but it is blurred by society and environment. Educating by giving examples, learning by doing, without saying anything, will be more meaningful. They see, they understand, and they follow. They see facts, and want to feel it too.
It is safe to say, educating love is definitely the ultimate vessel for a better life of all beings. Agent of change is here, and it is coming from any type of person who is willing.
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