To Win Animals’ Hearts and Minds, a Little TLC

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

CALOUNDRA, Australia ~ Somewhere in between “I only like Spaniels” – they were my choice of pedigree dog when I was single – and “Will you care for this puppy, please? It’s been abused” would have been an easier entrée into the world of “rescues.”

At the time we had Bentu, a gentle Rhodesian Ridgeback – my former husband’s choice of pedigree pooch. He was a delight – Bentu, that is. The liveliest Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy who grew 10 centimeters every minute on fresh air and anything else he could chew to become a giant of a dog.

Bentu was our security guard when my husband and I divorced. I got the house, the children and Bentu, and Bentu was all the security we needed. He wasn’t vicious but he had a bark that would send Rambo running and he looked the part. The real truth being he was a real softie and loved cuddles.

But one afternoon, many years later, when Bentu was close to 7 years old, our lives were turned around and we learned that love doesn’t need to be packaged in a pedigree breed but can be any Heinz variety. Bach was such a variety – a mix of Bull Mastiff, Rhodesian Ridgeback, plus-plus.

Bach had been found in bushland by a good friend of mine. Possibly only 4 or 5 weeks old, he had copped a whack on his head that caused a massive lump; plus he had a wound on his back covered with maggots.

A neurosurgeon vet friend felt this beaten puppy should be euthanized but my niece, also a vet, said: “No. I can save it,” and save it she did. Then she rang me and said I could pick him up. Me! What part in any of this was my doing? But, of course, my children were over the moon – a new puppy.

We named him Bach – not sure why – maybe a version of “bark” as his bark did save him from dying alone in the bushland where he’d been dumped.

Bach became our joy. He would run through Bentu’s legs, nipping his back leg and sending gentle Bentu into a frenzy of frustration. As onlookers, we would laugh at his antics and sigh when the little fellow would curl up with Bentu and sleep.

Bach was happy being used as a cushion by any of my children and even the international students who came to stay with us. Most of them were wary of big dogs but it seemed our beloved Bach put even the most insecure students at ease.

However, Bach did have problems due to the abuse. This perfectly happy dog whilst awake had to be approached with care when he was asleep. If you woke him suddenly, his reaction was unpredictable and on two occasions he connected with faces and both people required stitches.

After the second incident, even though they were two years apart, and the realization that if it had been any of the children visiting our home who had been bitten, I knew I had to make a decision to have Bach euthanized.

My children were so angry with me and my pain was only slightly eased in the knowledge that Bach had had four happy years with us – four longer than if my niece had agreed with the neurosurgeon and euthanized him when he was first found.

So when I meet Sweety (her new name) at the BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – clinic at Lodtunduh a month ago, I was reminded of Bach all over again.

Dr. Yogi said be careful with that one: she’s galak – vicious.

Vicious? I was looking at the tiniest white puppy in a cage and would not be deterred. Armed with my trusty sarong I reached in to get her out. Grrr – she bared her teeth and snapped. She was not happy.

But all a total front! Because this little puppy was plain scared. No one in her short life had picked her up to cuddle her or call her Sweety. Her previous name actually meant vicious.

Sweety snuggled into my shoulder and I swear she was purring more like a cat than any vicious dog after the first few strokes of her little white ears. Little by little the BAWA staff showed Sweety that she need not be scared and all it took was a daily dose of cuddles.

Sweety also needed socializing with the other puppies and once this step was completed she was put up for adoption.

It really doesn’t take much to help Bali dogs and cats. Just a few easy steps – rescue those in need and bring them to the BAWA clinic and you could then consider being a volunteer. You would be surprised just how much you will enjoy yourself.

So please join me in celebrating these beautiful Bali dogs and cats and come to BAWA and volunteer or make a donation. And have a look at the website for all the information you need about this wonderful foundation,

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