Posts Tagged ‘dog’

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More Than A Pat On The Head

April 20, 2013

I saw a heart-warming sight on Double-Six beach in Bali a few weeks ago. Amongst the dogs joyfully frolicking on the sand was one that seemed not to be participating. From quite a distance, it looked happy enough, but there seemed to be something different about the way it was standing. It was not until I drew much closer that I realised what that was.

I discovered that a French couple had found themselves ‘adopted’ by a dog lying on their doorstep. It didn’t seem particularly distressed, but its hindquarters were completely paralysed. Not even its tail could manage a single twitch, much less a wag. No-one knew how it got there, or what had happened to it. Some dogs, of course, have a hard life in Bali. I have seen them hit, kicked, and run over by motorbikes and cars. Whatever the cause in this dog’s case, it was obviously serious. A traumatic injury such as this to a dog in Bali generally means that it has no chance of survival. It would be left to die slowly, or be put down.

But this couple, showing compassion above and beyond the call of mere duty, took the dog in. They fed it, gave it medical attention, and tried to make its life as comfortable as possible. The dog, immobilised, was understandably depressed, and showed little sign of recovering from its debilitating paralysis. They tried massage, pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine – all with minimal effect.

Then they went that one step further, getting a custom made trailer/wheelchair made overseas to support the dog’s hindquarters. It was delivered and fitted, and a wonderful transformation began.

There on Double Six beach, I saw the results of that kindness – a dog happily romping on the sand with his canine mates, towing his hind legs behind him, and wagging his previously inactive tail with the sheer joy of mobility.

Custom Dog Wheelchair

Custom Dog Wheelchair

Even his back legs show signs of movement now, and his new owners say that they are even making jerky running movements when he dreams. You could, of course, attribute the improvement to medicine, to regular meals, and to the contraption supporting his back end.

But I think this dog is recovering mainly because of the genuine care and love shown by two strangers who could have abandoned him – and chose not to. They made him part of their pack instead, and for a dog, this is the most important thing in the world.

Aren’t some people wonderful?

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Round The Island – Getting Away From It All

September 12, 2010

The wanderlust has struck again, the driver has been duly booked and here we are – off on another trip to see more of the Bali beyond Greater Kuta. My friend, her teen-aged son, a small senile dog and yours truly are bumping over an endless series of roadworks just outside of Sanur, trying to work out why a divided ‘highway’ would be carrying two-way traffic in both eastbound and westbound lanes. And why every few kilometres, the traffic flowing in both directions in the two northern lanes is being diverted across to the southern roadway – as is the traffic in the adjacent parallel roadway. The regular cross-over points as we switch roadways are a nightmare of slow motion near-misses, merges and Bali-style ‘give way to the might’ manoeuvres.

No-one seems think this is unusual. I ask our driver: “Why we don’t just stay in the Padang Bai-bound left carriageway? The Sanur-bound traffic could use the other one.” I also wonder why there are alternating stretches of recently poured concrete and bare, bumpy earth. Don’t you normally build roads as a continuous ribbon? But my questions are met with shrugs that would be Gallic if they weren’t so Balinese. The Teenager remains oblivious to the chaos, nose deep in his laptop. I think he is Googling Bali road systems.

A rest stop in the port town of Padang Bai is illuminating. Our warung of choice, overlooking the bay, has what looks like a mid-day party in progress. Six locals are sitting around a table, and from the volume of their conversation, they have been there for some time. Anything that is said, even a grunt, seems uproariously funny to all the others. This may be because they are engaged in some sort of complex drinking ritual which leaves us watchers spellbound. First, the waiter brings six small Bintangs and places one in front of each participant. Then a cut-down two-litre soft drink bottle is produced and ceremoniously filled with beer from all the small bottles. When this improvised plastic jug is full, a shot glass magically appears, and receives a splash of a mysterious dark-brown liquid from another bottle kept under the table. Then the shot glass is topped up with beer from the ‘jug’ and one of the party downs it in one gulp to deafening cheers from his mates.

The process is repeated until the jug is empty, which is the signal for the waiter to bring six more Bintangs. We watch mesmerised as each party-goer rapidly gets through three bottles of beer and the group signals for another round. But just then, a mournful hooting sound drifts across the harbour – apparently the signal that the ferry to Lombok is ready to depart. The revellers leap up, clutching a fresh bottle each, and lumber somewhat unsteadily towards the ferry. I notice for the first time that they all have company T-shirts proclaiming them to be ship’s crew. I resolve that any future visit to Lombok will be by air.

We drive on through picturesque Candi Dasa and cut inland. We are staying at sleepy Amed. I hear the diving is excellent, but as none of us have the time, inclination, or training we content ourselves with relaxing, eating and talking to the locals, who are wonderfully hospitable and friendly. They are fascinated by our little Jack Russell, who is so different to Bali dogs that they are not convinced that it is even a dog. There are times where I have my doubts as well, because she behaves like an elderly aunt.

Another scenic drive brings us to Lovina for the next overnight stay, followed by a meander along spectacular mountain roads past the prosperous-looking village of Kayu Putih and the magnificent Lakes Tamblingan and Buyan. We pass amazing rice terraces suspended high on sheer hillsides. The Teenager is too busy to see them, because he is Googling for images of  rice paddies for his homework. At least he is impressed with the temple ceremonies at Lake Beratan, although the wonderfully syncopated complexities of the massed gamelan orchestra don’t seem to move him as much as the sight of nearby food stalls. But that’s understandable – he is a teenager, he hasn’t eaten for nearly 40 minutes, and is probably starving.

Then, as we approach Mengwi on the way home to the chaotic south, something happens that stops our hearts momentarily. While gridlocked in traffic, we see a little girl, maybe five years old, squatting on her haunches on the side of the road overlooking a deep river valley. She looks like she is poised on the edge of space, toes hanging over the precipice, staring out over the drop. We are frozen. Our driver calls out to her: “Hati hati! Be careful!” Her startled response to his warning is to jump up, overbalance – and disappear into the void. We scream; the driver fumbles with his belt, ready to leap out of the car and run to the edge.

But she suddenly reappears, facing us, arms wide, laughing with glee. She has jumped down to a hidden ledge just below road level, then, after an exquisitely-timed delay, popped back up to see our reaction. Balinese humour. I debate whether to make an appointment for a new pacemaker or hurl her into the valley myself.

But it sort of feels like home. You know – sitting in a traffic jam, breathing exhaust, watching the crowds, and being the victim of yet another practical joke. At least I know I’m back in South Bali, where the chaos and the quirkiness is a way of life.

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Babysitting the Dog – Masuk Anjing?

June 30, 2010

I have felt like a single parent for the last week. My friend Sandy ‘volunteered’ me to look after her dog Bindi while she nipped back for a quick visit to The Great Southern Land.  I know this dog well; we go back a long way. The problem is, I haven’t had much contact with Bindi for a few years. And during that time, she has become older, developed a few medical problems, and has even become a bit senile. But she has been a great dog for fourteen years, and Sandy has spoiled her rotten during this time.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the beast. In fact, her elderly status, deafness, semi-blindness, incipient Alzheimer’s, stubborn independence and total self-absorption makes me feel quite an affinity for her. We could almost be from the same litter. And so I agreed to minister to the little Jack Russell’s needs for a week. I mean, how hard could it be?

Sandy then delightedly gave me detailed instructions for Bindi’s care, feeding, medication, exercise, companionship requirements and sleeping arrangements. “Wait”, I said – “are we talking about your dog or an elderly relative that you are palming off on me?”.  “No, she’s my baby”, was the response. “But she needs looking after”.  I subsequently found out  what ‘looking after’ really meant. The unspoken message was that if anything happened to that dog, my life as I knew it was basically over.

So on the morning of the first day, Bindi greets me as I open my bedroom door. Contrary to specific instructions, I did not let her sleep in the bed with me. She’s a dog, a nice dog, but belongs on the fancy dog mat her owner insisted I bring here, not in my bedroom. I mean, I don’t even do the relationship thing with people. So she walks in, miffed at spending the night alone, investigates the bedroom and promptly exits via the large sliding doors at the other end. Unfortunately, her cataract problem causes her to walk straight into the swimming pool, which must have looked to her like an inviting aqua carpet. The filter isn’t on yet, so there are no ripples on the surface to indicate that it is, in fact, water. She looks astonished, but pretends that she meant to go in, then swims a length, executes a tumble turn and swims back. She’s too small to get out unassisted, so yours truly gets drenched in the rescue. Then she runs round the villa shaking vigorously. Dogs soak up a lot of water.

The next day, it’s time to give her the bi-weekly tablet which keeps her Cushing’s Syndrome at bay. The instructions say “Do NOT touch tablet with hands. Use gloves”. If the tablet is going to kill me, what will it do to her? Nevertheless, I wrap the tablet in some ham and give it to her. She spits it out. I put it between two pieces of Schmakos, which she adores, but she spits it out. I make an incision in a piece of chicken, insert the tablet and give it to her. She spits it out. By this stage, I don’t care if I die; I pick the tablet up with my fingers, put it down the back of her throat and hold her muzzle until she swallows. She gives me a hint of a senile snarl, but at least she is dosed.

I also have explicit instructions to exercise Bindi at the beach. Being a softie at heart, I make a dog carrier for the motorbike out of a foam and fabric doggie bed. Ensconced in this cocoon, Bindi rides to the beach with me, but we get caught in a mammoth traffic jam in a narrow street. The belching exhaust of the huge Jeep ahead, which is actually causing the jam, fill Bindi’s nostrils with diesel fumes. By the time we arrive at the beach, she is so gassed that she can’t walk. Further, my dog-carrying contraption is too snug, so she now has heat-stroke. I give her water, but she lies on the beach panting while I throw a tennis ball, which she completely ignores. People stare. I give up and take her home.

I desperately need some dogless time, so go out for coffee. When I return, Bindi hears the gate open, but because of her hearing problem, she can’t tell where the sound is coming from. I walk through the gate and see her looking intently, not at me, but at my naked lady statue which happens to be on the other side of the pool. Bindi decides that the stone figure is her beloved mistress, and bounds towards it, yapping joyfully. Naturally, she falls straight into the pool. I get drenched getting her out, she shakes water all over the villa again. When I dry her off, she goes to the pool edge again,  staring at the statue. As her muscles tense for another leap, I grab her. I spend the next hour building a rope fence for the pool.

This dog is so spoiled that it is impossible to feed her normal dog food.  I don’t believe in any of this pampering rubbish, so there was no way I’m going to let her sit at my table in a restaurant, or whatever her owner does to get her to eat. But after a day of food refusal, I weakened. I almost never cook for myself, but over the last week I have prepared so many cooked dishes for this animal that I could work at a restaurant. I hope she appreciates it.

Bindi has been amusing, albeit demanding, company. But she has made it abundantly clear that I am merely a temporary replacement for her real owner, who looks after her in pampered splendour, far better than I ever could. At least I now know where I want to go in the afterlife. I am definitely coming back as one of Sandy’s dogs.