Losing a Loved One

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Amanda, Garth and Georgia were here in Bali, against all odds – the travel warnings, the recession – to spend a wonderful, restful Christmas break.

“I can’t wait to show you Blati,” I told Amanda when she and the gorgeous Georgia agreed to accompany me and my two little students, Putu and Putu, to the BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – clinic the Sunday before Christmas.

Amanda is one of those delightful people who lights up the room with her exuberant personality and Georgia is just gorgeous, tall and blond, and a load of fun. Smart, too. We had a wonderful couple of hours, cuddled lots of puppies and kittens, helped clean out some cages and made sure the water dishes were full.

And, yes, Blati was centre of attention, with his little tail wagging for all it was worth in appreciation. Georgia gave him the cuddles that had him feeling like a prince. I could see his little heart soaring.

We had our photos taken with three little puppies I had rescued recently, and Blati. I was so proud of their recovery, these funny-looking little puppies with their wrinkly, furless little bodies. Well, the three of them but not Blati, who now had a full coat of black, with a patch of brindled black and white, fur.

Not long now and he would be adopted; I just knew it.

If you read my story about Dr. Ani, Blati was the male puppy whose skinny his ribs poked through his hairless body on arrival at BAWA but within three weeks Dr. Ani and her team had him looking so handsome that I didn’t recognize him on arrival one Sunday after a week away. He was just so proud of his new fur coat. Like all puppies with his skin condition at BAWA, he is bathed, brushed and cuddled daily and he could wag his tail with such vigor there was no doubting this little man was in seventh heaven.

The funny little anecdotes that I usually spin about the happy endings that come out of the BAWA clinic are not happening today. Today my story is about a failure. A failure not on the part of any of the vets at BAWA or most of the vets in Bali for that matter, but a failure on the part of the people in a position to change the laws that do not protect the animals here in Bali. The laws that allow people to bring in foreign breeds of dogs and cats when there are hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats in need of veterinary care and in need of loving families to care for them on this island.

“But I don’t like the look of Bali dogs or cats,” was an explanation given when I questioned some people who had foreign breeds in Bali. I recalled my mother telling me “never to judge a book by its cover” and also never try to impress others with money. I had a feeling this fitted with the imported-breed scenario!

“But you would grow to love your Bali dog,” was my answer. Good golly, I thought, have you noticed the overshot lower jaw of a Pekingese? I mean, kids with teeth like that end up costing their parents a bomb at the orthodontist, and their parents still love them.

The first time I saw my son is a perfect case in point. My son, I swear, looked like ET on arrival, his little hand out stretched like “ET phone home.” Oops, definitely from his father’s side of the family. However, that funny-looking baby is now 6-foot 3 and gorgeous. But it’s not that of which I am most proud. No, it’s all the other attributes that make up my son’s beauty. He is smart (degree in applied science), athletic (cyclist and snowboarder), plays the piano and has a good heart. Who would have known all of this from my initial sighting? But it’s what his father and I put in. We nurtured him, saw that he had a good education and gave him lots of love. We are rightfully proud of who he is today.

Pets – dogs, cats and others – are the same. You nurture them, give them food and water and lots of cuddles and no matter what kind, that animal will give you back tenfold – loyalty, companionship, loads of fun and so much more.

But Blati won’t have that chance. You see, Blati contracted distemper and was euthanized last Friday. My heart is broken. I am so sad I didn’t say goodbye. I didn’t have the chance to tell this little Bali dog just one more time that he was so handsome and that I loved him. I know he would have been a wonderful pet.

Distemper is an insidious disease that cares less about who it kills. All the good work that the vets at BAWA do can be knocked out in just two short days. The four-legged citizens of Bali need your support. Please consider what you can do to make life easier for the Bali dogs and cats and be astounded just how much joy you will receive in return.

RIP, Blati.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatama Gandhi

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