Lessons in (Puppy) Love

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Inspiration for this column usually comes from the wonderful people in and around Ubud I have met through their dogs and cats. If you’ve read any of my columns you would have read about the beautiful Ibu Arini and Putu who live along the same street I live and who have cared for dear old Broni and are the proud owners of the smart Mr Doggi.

And the farming family, Pak Nyoman Danu, Ibu Ketut Wali and their son Made, I met and recounted the story of their amazing little dog Nonong, and tiny kitten, Panther and their other dogs and cats that all live in harmony on their little plot of land in Payogan.

However, every so often I met people who don’t believe there is value in caring for, not just owning, dogs or cats.

How could I agree with anyone who thinks animals, in this case dogs, aren’t worth taking to the vet? Rhetorical question since my niece is a vet. Veterinary science is a long slog at university, requiring a lot of compassion for animals. You don’t become a doctor without wanting to relieve the pain of sickness in humans.

The incident that has caused me the angst to write this story happened not long after I had arrived back from Canifeli Veterinary Clinic in Denpasar. We were not a happy carload. My good friends Made, his wife, Luh, and their boys, Gede and Kadek, and I had gone to visit their puppies in the clinic. They had been horribly sick.

The worst of it was we thought we were going to come home with one of the puppies. Rosi was possibly well enough to come home. Rosi, no, not named after Valentino Rosi but the entire male population in our street are convinced so and there is no changing their opinion. So dear, handsome little Rosi now gets called Valentino.

These puppies are very special. They are the genuine article: beautiful Bali puppies, born of beautiful Bali dog parents. We have watched them grow from the first day Ibu Ketut from the Payogan farm said, “Look at what I have here!”

From week-old puppies we have watched them grow. We watched their first tentative steps outside the storeroom at the farm. We watched when they were so covered with fleas that Ibu Ketut made up a special mixture of some green herb and water and rubbed it into their little furry bodies, under very vocal protest, of course, to rid them naturally of the fleas. And we watched them interact with the kittens and the other farm dogs. Then, at the age of six weeks, Pak Made and Ibu Luh took them home to their little boys, after a short stay at the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), because Rosi had a cough.

All things considered, we didn’t think there would be much that could go wrong with these precious little Bali farm puppies and certainly not anything caused by a misunderstanding between people of different cultures.

A friend of mine was over from Australia and being a generous, animal-loving person decided to make life easier for Luh and organize the food for the puppies. She bought one week’s worth of special puppy tin food and gave instructions to Ibu Luh.

But after only a week these perfectly healthy little puppies from the farm had started to loose weight. They’d stopped eating and were vomiting yellow bile and had diarrhea. The vets at BAWA were worried. The thought of these puppies having Parvo virus consumed me with fear. Dr. Annie said they needed pathology tests and this would need to be done in Denpasar.

Dr. Soeharsono at the Canifeli Veterinary Clinic in Denpasar was initially concerned with infection but after microbiology tests showed evidence of toxins, a salmonella bacterium, he asked about food poisoning. But how?

Did you know that the majority of families in Bali don’t have refrigeration? The one thing my friend didn’t think to mention to Ibu Luh when feeding puppies out of a tin was that what was not eaten immediately needed to be refrigerated. According to Dr. Son, as he is conveniently called, tin food goes off in this weather in less than a day and the bacterium that grows can cause horrible problems – problems in this case that saw Rosi and Rosa spend five days in the vet surgery and clock up a bill that made me pale.

Rosa and Rosi have come home. They are the darlings of our street. Of course great things are expected of Rosi! But most of all they are the most loved puppies of two little boys, Gede and Kadek, and the boys will teach Rosa and Rosi lots, but mostly the boys will learn so many invaluable lessons. Here are 10.

1.Always let those you love know it.
2.Show your joy! When you are happy, wiggle and wag.
3.Approach each day with enthusiasm.
4.Never underestimate the power of praise.
5.Play every chance you get.
6.Take lots of naps.
7.Never turn down a car ride.
8.Always be loyal.
9.Don’t hold a grudge.
10.Enjoy each meal.

The comment that caused this column? Siapa peduli! But join me in celebrating Bali’s own dogs and cats, those treasures right here in our own backyard! And think about how you can make a difference to these marginalized animals.

Filed under: Instinct

One Response to “Lessons in (Puppy) Love”

  1. Daphne Says:

    I think it’s not a priority to take a dog or cat (and I love them both) to the vet, when most families can’t even pay to get their kids to the doctor?