Monday, January 5, 2009

I thought I knew dogs - until we went to Thailand

Hubby and I love our dogs.
And like most owners we think they're pretty smart and rather special.
I think Jack is pretty smart and Ralph is rather "special".

Yes, Jack is in this photo.
Just look closely under Ralph's chin.

You can see Jack's little grey nose

As our Niece put it, as only a 5 year old can, "So, Jack and Ralph are your kids?". I had to nod and agree. Points to the kid. Jack and Ralph go everywhere with me in the car, they have their Gran's house they go to when we are away and generally they live a pretty carefree life and don't ever grow up.

This had always been my impression of dogs; an IQ of a two year old and were just always bouncy balls of fun who did whatever we asked them to. Perfect kids.

Then we went to Thailand.
There are so many reasons that we love Thailand, and their dog culture is just another reason.

The towns in Thailand have two different inhabitants; the humans and the dogs.
These dogs are not like the kiddy dogs we know and love in a country such as Australia where they are dependant on humans for their survival, but they are independent and adult-like in their actions, you can see thought in their eyes and can I say probably behave in a more mature fashion than many of the humans.

What I loved was that the humans did not control the dogs.
There were no Rangers, dog catchers, signs up about leashing your dog, fines if you didn't clean up your dog's poop, and why? Because the humans don't own the dogs. The dogs are their own society. Good luck in fining the dog!

They are completely aware of the humans but they co-exist. Not once did we feel threatened by any dog. They hang out on the beach in the morning enjoying the shade and cool off in the water happy to get a tummy rub off a passing stranger, then they move into the main streets at night and hang out at "their home". It seemed they each had a shop they called home and every night the same dog/s would be there. Sometimes there would be a sleep over where the usual dog would have a couple of ring ins for the night.

On a few nights you would have a dog follow you for a few hundred metres. You look behind and they would stop. Give you a tilted head look of, "I know I act all independant and all, but I can chase my tail and eat my foot if it means you'll take me home". And yes, I wanted to take them all home. After a while they would realise you weren't going anywhere they wanted to go and would head back to where they were laying.

We nicknamed her "7/11 dog". Imaginative I know.
Each night we would wrap up our leftovers and take them to her.

Have you ever watched a dog cross a busy road by looking left, then right and then left again? I was forever amazed at their level of intelligence. But I am blonde so maybe it is all about expectations.

Every now and then you would see a dog with a limp. He either forgot to look left again or he got bowled over by the scooter in his blind spot. All the dogs were very similar in shape and size so it would seem that natural selection had a part in which dogs have formed their society.

Credit also to the Thai's who treat these animals with such respect. I know there are issues with dogs being in poor health and no one to take them to a vet or provide assistance so there's always a down side. I'll buy that Tatts ticket next week and if I win, I'll quite happily move over to Thailand and open a free Vet clinic that can treat these dogs.

I can see the negotiations now for the dog in the photo above.
Dog: "So, here's the deal. Let me hang out in your air-conditioned shop and I'll keep and eye on the place for you. Fair?"

Here are some Big Buddha dogs on Koh Samui. Just trying to stay cool in the shade during the hottest part of the day.

In Phuket we found the dogs had beach territory. An invisible line that would mark their patch of sand. We sat and watched as a dog wandered into another dog's territory. Our automatic reaction was that it could get nasty.

The wandering dog saw the dog who's territory it had passed in to.
He lowered his head and walked slowly up to ruling dog.
They sniffed.
And sniffed.
And sniffed.
And sniffed.
We got distracted by the huge wooden crate that came in on wave - closer inspection showed it was from Indonesia.
We remembered what we were watching again and checked back on the dogs.
By this point they had started to run around together and about 10 minutes later both flopped onto the sand thoroughly puffed.
It was worthy of the comment, "Now if only we could learn to share our territory like that".

So to the Thai's and their impressive dog society, Love Your Work!
And I mean it about opening the clinic if I win the Lotto.
Donations anyone?