A Brave Little Soldier

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

I was sitting comfortably in the back of Dewi’s Honda Jazz heading toward the Maya Resort for pizza with Dewi, Laksmi and their mother, my good friend Janet, to have pizza at the Riverside Café before the girls left to spend Christmas with their grandparents in Melbourne.

At the corner before the Maya, Laksmi let out a shriek, as only Laksmi, and possibly every other soon-to-be-13-year-old, can do. Dewi, understanding code for “stop,” slammed on the brakes as Laksmi finished her sentence. “There’s a tiny puppy on the road. It’s so tiny.”

These girls have started caring. Actually I believe they always cared but like so many others on the island of Bali, they just didn’t know what to do. Now they do, and so they quickly made a call to the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) as I went to catch the puppy.

“Good grief, Dewi, don’t you have anything in the car?” I asked when I realized I didn’t have my usual sarong for emergencies such as this. “Umm, how about newspaper?” she replied.

You have to be quick when catching these little bundles of furless skin and bones. It never ceases to amaze me that such pathetic, starving little creatures can move so fast. I am getting much better at it, though, and this time I avoided the obligatory nipping. Always carry Betadine and one of those hand sanitizers that require no water and you are on your way to saving puppies in Bali. A sarong, too, but don’t expect to get it back.

Once caught and sitting comfortably in my arms, albeit nervously, I told Dewi and company to go to the Maya and order the pizza before it closed. I would wait for the BAWA, ambulance which was on its way.

No sooner had they moved off when I realized this little puppy had family – in the gutter behind me were two more puppies, in a worse state than this little one, with no energy to move.

“You are so brave,” I told the one in my arms. Was it instinct that had him standing on the side of the road in full view of the passing traffic instead of lying in the gutter out of sight? I guess he was hungry and had just enough energy to know that being in the gutter wasn’t going to get him any food. Standing on the road had just saved the lives of his siblings. So I kept stroking him gently and telling him, “You are a hero. You were so brave.”

But was it worth it? The puppies were quickly named Pepet, the little champion of the family; Pipit; and Puput. Pepet is the only puppy alive today. Pipit and Puput struggled to gain their health and didn’t survive longer than two and three weeks. But I am grateful in the knowledge that the last few weeks were comfortable and that they knew what it was like to be cuddled, to feel warm and safe, and they had good food and clean water.

Pepet is still in an isolation area for puppies with coughs but he is looking so much better – his fur is starting to return and he is amongst friends. His little tail isn’t quite what it could be but I know that will come with time. However, he can wag that tail and as my students, Putu and Putu, tell me, in their best English: “Look, Pepet is happy,” we know that that is a sure sign he is enjoying life.

So should they have just been euthanized on arrival? Well, not according to the Albert Schweitzer of BAWA, Dr Ani.

“Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace” was a famous quote of Schweitzer’s.

The BAWA staff could hardly call their daily activities peaceful; but they create peace of mind for people like me. They make it possible for me to live here, as I would find it impossible if I were not able to ring them and know that they are there for the dogs and cats of Bali. A friend of mine and I make small donations. It is not enough.

BAWA is not a money tree. They need funds. Here is a wish-list from a visiting Australian vet nurse in an email to me.

I guess if we could reach for the stars, we would want a large plot of land that we could build a purpose-built facility. This would allow us to accommodate dogs and cats separately, build a series of isolation areas, have a designated area for adoption animals, etc, etc, AND we would need ongoing funding to cover the overheads and allow us to increase our capacity on the island. This would mean hiring more qualified staff and paying competitive salaries to attract and keep good staff, purchasing another ambulance to access more areas of Bali, increasing the desexing (sterilization) team to increase our sterilization capabilities, etc, etc, etc.

The list doesn’t end. We lack the resources to do all that we want to do as an animal welfare organization. We need money and we need dedicated local volunteers to help not only with the animals but with fundraising and BAWA community awareness

Thanks for always caring about BAWA and its animals.

Please join me in celebrating Bali’s own dogs and cats and in 2009 help make a difference to their lives, as short as they may be.

RIP: Pipit and Puput.

Filed under: Instinct

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