A Tail within a Tale

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Many years ago, my sister, a school teacher, told me that in order to motivate children to write, never correct their spelling. She believed it inhibited the flow of their thoughts. “The correction of spelling comes later,” she said.
Whether you agree or not, I am sure any parent loves to see their child writing. The discipline of writing down your thoughts each day is one that, even if you don’t become a John Berendt or Vikram Seth, still gives personal pleasure. It is a form of therapy. And when your story or novel is finished and in print, I can only imagine the satisfaction.
Writing workshops for children are such fun and highly stimulating. I witnessed this joy at the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA)-sponsored Ubud Writers & Readers Festival writing workshop for children last Saturday.
It was attended by approximately 45 children. The BAWA staff and vets told them about the joys of being a dog owner but also about the responsibility that goes with it. Being sure that their dog has shelter from the elements, food and water, and, of course, lots of love and attention.
Then Reda Gaudiamo, a published short story writer from Jakarta, led the group in writing their own stories about the marginalized Bali dogs.
There was no doubt in any of the adults’ minds who watched and then listened to the children’s stories that there were a number of children who definitely had a future in writing ahead of them.
And so for your reading pleasure, here is just one of the many wonderful stories – from a 12-year-old – that were handed in last Saturday.

The Story of a Bali Dog

By Isabelle Segadelli

This is a story I wrote much later in my life. Today I live in a wonderful home with humans that love me. Before that my life was on the streets.
I am a Bali dog, as people call my breed. I was born in a shed along with my two sisters and a brother. We grew up happily for the first six months of my life. I owe so much to my mother. She taught me to respect elders, have manners and when to run away from a fight and when to stand ground.
About two weeks after a heavy rain I caught a cold and was ordered to stay inside. Everything was still and dark; all you could hear was my haggard breath and in between came a sneeze or two.
Out of nowhere I felt hands close around my neck and lift me up by my scarf. I yelped in terror as I came face to face with a human. He swung me around, laughed and then dropped me into the suffocating darkness of a cloth bag. I don’t know how long I had whined, cried and struggled to get out, but in the end I collapsed out of exhaustion and fell sound asleep.
I awoke to find myself in a wired cage along with some other puppies. I spotted one that was totally white expect for a black patch that covered her right eye. I stumbled over, smelled her tush, which is our way of saying hello, and asked if she knew where we were. She replied that she had no idea and recounted her capture story, which was almost the same as mine.
As we were just finishing up a conversation, I felt the hand again on my neck and my body being pulled up. The face I saw this time was that of a young woman. I saw money being handed over and next thing I knew I was sold and brought to a home that already had one older male dog. His name was Riper and I was mortally afraid of him.
One day Ripper attacked me just for tripping over his fat tail. He chased me out of the house and told me never to come back. I had the street life again for the next five years, eating out of rubbish cans for every meal and drinking sewer water just to quench my thirst. I picked up a skin disease that ate a lot of my fur up.
By the time BAWA found me, I was on the verge of death. There was a gash in my shoulder from a fierce dog fight and I had not had anything to eat for two whole weeks. The people lifted me into the van and my life changed from there.
My coat grew back and I was adopted into a loving family that I am still with today.

The staff of BAWA would like to congratulate and thank Isabelle for this touching story.
So join me once again in celebrating Bali’s own dogs, those treasures right here in our own backyard. And immunize and sterilize and let them have a wonderfully long and healthy life along side you.

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