February 10, 2012

Soi Dog

I moved into a new apartment last month and to get home I have to drive my motorbike through a long and windy road with green palm trees, fancy houses and food stalls to get to my small apartment that I am totally in love with. It is a nice drive (except at dusk when the bugs fly into your eyes and mouth) and when I get home I greeted warmly by 20 beat up, dirty and stinky soi dogs that I am also quiet fond of. One in particular, we named Lil' Pup (cause you know she is a puppy but she is pretty hard from living on the streets) wiggles her whole body and jumps up to check if my bags have any food as she licks my hands and waits to get a little rub down. She does really love and trust us now and it has worked out, I feed her and love her (I should clean her) and then I can go up to my clean apartment with no dog hair and still feel the puppy love! Look at this face, who could not love it!

At night though, the whole neighborhood changes. I have become quite obsessed with looking out my window at the dogs or standing on the patio and observing their behavior, I have decided there could be a good Discovery show about their lives. Every night, the sun goes down and the howling begins. Recently the pack that lives near our place has grown exponentially and all the alpha males are competing for their place in the pecking/fucking order. For hours on and off, the dogs hang out in the field behind our apartment and howl, bark, fight, play and do all the fun things that happen after dark in the dog world. It is quite annoying and we have to shut the window sometimes as they get so loud we can't hear anything. They wander around the streets, some limping from a earlier fight, some sleeping in the middle of the road, others black from being pushed into the nasty water in the swamp next door by another dog, and a few stuck together after a public romp in the parking lot (did you know that happens? Butt to butt, two dogs can get stuck together for several minutes, I have seen it a few times with my own eyes!) and Lil' Pup running around innocently flirting with all the dogs on the block. My little girl is gonna grow up to be the town whore since the girl dogs are outnumbered by the male and I wish I could protect her but I know there is nothing I can do (must be what it is like to have a daughter). You can take the dog out of the streets but well, you know.

Much of my time these days is consumed by watching the bizarre behavior of these dogs. They are like a pack of domesticated wolves, survival of the fittest is the most important rule in their world. The violence that their lives revolve around is starting to get to me though, this morning I watched them gang up on a female howl for a few minutes and then all stand around and watch as the dominant male went at her from behind. It was like a gang rape style event at 7 in the morning, and totally normal to everyone driving by. It does not sit well with me though, even though I know they are dogs, it still seems cruel.

I know the mega-saga drama that is a soi dogs life will never end, it is a reoccurring situation playing out in undeveloped nations all over the world. As sad as their lives may seem, it is what they were born to do (before humans domesticated them) and most of them are well fed (yet still unhealthy from lack of medical care.) Showing Lil' Pup some compassion has changed that puppies life and she will most likely be friendly to humans now (many are not because the Thai people are not usually nice to them) and she has attached herself to my heartstrings as well. It's not a bad lot to make friends with the local farangs, I will totally take her to the vet when she needs it and she will always get love as long as I am around. Sometimes I wish there were more I could do but sometimes change comes with kindness and goes from there.

"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement."
- Snoopy 

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