Travel Memories: Dogs in Asia

This little guy came rushing outside when two dudes with pit bulls on leashes came up the road to exercise their clearly valuable animals. The neighborhood dogs got up in arms and began running up the street to circle the dogs and see if there was any challenge to be taken. Clearly there was not. Both of these pitties had their balls in tact and were beautiful specimens of muscle and attitude. The street dogs kept a very safe distance but barked their taunts and jests. This little blackie barked from his perch and watched as the crowd moved up the hill. When the cacophony died down, he just sat calmly, but with an alertness that I envied. I thought, this is what it’s like to be in that intense meditative state where you are simply present and connected to everything. No thoughts. Just holding the great Void in your mind and heart. It’s not stupidity. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s the awareness of being exactly where you are without thought of time or space. Can you see it?
I have a thing about dogs in Asia. It’s a big heart thing that requires pages and pages of self analysis. I am working on it because of the pain it causes me. It’s irrational and something I’m working on, like I said. But suffice it to say for now that I love the dogs here. I am sure that I love the dogs everywhere, but there’s a different relationship between the community and the dogs in Asia that is different than that in the States. Number one, the dogs have a presence on the streets here. They are unleashed and unrestrained. Wild is not the right word, because they are not hunters stalking prey and living off the land. But they are as much citizens of society as any man. They go where they want, when they want. They have their routines and their adventures.
This funny little beast seems to be saying, “blech” to her rice. The diet for Balinese dogs is pretty lean– left-over chicken parts (of which there are few) and lots of rice. Most of the dogs here are slim, but this pug looks well fed. 😊
I have seen dogs behave like little boys– shy and demure on their own and boisterous and aggressive in their packs. I have witnessed the most violent dog fight that made me bow my head with helplessness and sorrow. I have witnessed bitches take on two or three males for the sake of her heat. Newborn puppies at the temple with eyes still blue from their newness. A puppy pummeled in the street by a truck. I know of a beautiful mutt who will not to save his life, leave the tiled floor of their open plan home. (I asked where he poops and pees and his mistress pointed to the tile and the then waved a towel and giggled, implying that she just cleans it up when it occurs. In my prissy American mind, I thought yuck. And then I remembered that as Light Beings, children of God, we are the ones who give meaning to every action. Her meaning for cleaning up the tile of her home is different than my meaning. To me, it is unsanitary and an ill-mannered dog and inconvenient. To her, it is nothing. She is happy. Her little dog is safe and happy. And hell, by the time I had processed that, I was happy.)
I took a three hour walk the other day along the rural roads of Ubud and I encountered no fewer than fifty dogs. Skinny black ones that look like jakals, short beige ones with spots that look like hyenas, the long-nosed ones with the black faces and the white bodies, the tall red ones that look like they are some kind of gorgeous pure breed, but are in fact, just another mutt. Only 10 of them barked at me which tells me that I am turning Balinese. There are a few organizations that advocate for the dog population in Bali.  Here’s one you can contact and follow and of course, send donations:

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Here I am! Eccomi qui!

Florence, Italy


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