“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I believe that dogs are angels on earth. The unconditional love and loyalty they possess can never be matched by mankind. Everywhere I’ve been on my journey throughout Southeast Asia, dogs are there. Seeing them and crossing paths with some up close and personal have been my sign of a Higher Power close by. Not everyone feels this way about animals. Some of the dogs I’ve encountered were very afraid of humans. This behavior tells me they have been hurt in the past by a human being.
Dogs are not pampered and treated like actual family members in the places I’ve seen throughout Southeast Asia. Most of the dogs are feral and live outdoors all of their lives. Speaking to many locals throughout Southeast Asia I’ve learned that most dogs are not owned by a person. They sometimes act as guard dogs in certain areas because they are being fed in those certain areas by someone, but never allowed inside that person’s house. Some of the dogs even have collars on. I told a local in Burma I loved dogs and he said they were “free to take”.
Some people look at dogs as a nuisance and do horrific things to get rid of them. In Indonesia the government supports and enforces culling of dogs. It is known as “dog elimination” day. Dogs are shot with strychnine-laced darts and suffer being poisoned shortly before they die. Hundreds of dogs are eliminated that way until the culling ends days later. This is done under the cloak of preventing the rabies virus from spreading to humans. Dog meat is a popular dish among the Manado, Minahasa and Batak ethnic groups in Indonesia. Batak restaurants commonly offer a dish of dog cooked in its own blood known as B1. Jakartans are amongst the highest consumers of dog meat in Indonesia.
There are countless strays in Thailand, the actual number is unknown, I read on the internet it was 300,000 in Bangkok alone. In Thailand people have found many ways to harm and/or eliminate these precious angels. Putting coolant on the street, so the dogs drink it and die and throwing puppies into the woods are common in Thailand. Many people will hit the dog with sticks, stones and machetes, and use knives or kill them with guns. It was very rare to see locals loving them up but I did see tourist giving them special attention on some of the islands of Thailand.
Most of these feral dogs will never know what it is like to be loved and pampered or trust a human. It saddens me to know this. None of them were spayed and/or neutered (which is required in the USA). It was also very common to see them scratching and scratching from either fleas, infections or irritated skin problems. I just wanted to take them all and give them a safe loving home to go to. There were a few organizations that try to “save” them or help better their lives. Recently a animal rescue shelter in Da Nang Vietnam was accused of killing and selling dogs to local restaurants. The owner of that rescue shelter claimed he was under pressure finding money to maintain the non profit center shelter.
Here are photos of the feral dogs (I refer to them as angels) who have been kind, loving and left a lasting impression on my heart, memory of my time in that place and my encounter with each of them. To all the dogs I’ve personally encountered this trip, it’s no doubt they were my little angels.
My favorite dog I spent time with is Hector from Singapore. I wrote an entire blog about him. I was chosen to watch after him for two weeks during Christmas. It was my first time ever dog sitting and it left a lasting impression on my heart and soul. Hector wasn’t anything like the feral dogs I’ve seen, no way. Hector was a full blood German short-haired pincher. He also lived a glamorous life and was showered with love, toys and attention. Just watching after him showed me that truly loving a dog will reap benefits for the human’s spirit and the dog’s spirit. The harmony is beautiful.
There is an old Native American folktale…an Ojibway tale – “The earth trembled and a great rift appeared, separating the first man and woman from the rest of the animal kingdom. As the chasm grew deeper and wider, all the other creatures, afraid for their lives, returned to the forest — except for the dog, who after much consideration leapt the perilous rift to stay with the humans on the other side. His love for humanity was greater than his bond to other creatures, he explained, and he willingly forfeited his place in paradise to prove it”