Someone for Everyone

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Wayan Adi is a tiny 8-year-old boy whose mother works for the Janet De Neefe-Suardana household here in Ubud where I live. He has the face of an angel and eyes that watch you shyly under the longest eyelashes and he has an auntie who is my good friend.

Plato wrote that “Friends have all things in common” and since I read this quote I have thought about it often. Ketut Korme is the younger sister of Wayan’s mother, Mantung, and whilst I’m not sure if Ketut and I have “all” things in common, I know we do have one.

My first meeting with Ketut came about when her name was offered as a possible assistant for a rather difficult task. Janet and the family were complaining that the very sweet Felix, one of their compound dogs, and one of my favourite personalities in Jl. Bisma, was smelly, and as he is inclined to hang around the entrance of the Honeymoon Guesthouse bar, it would be nice if I bathed him!

“If I bathed him” – I’d love my critical-reasoning lecturer to have a go at this one: “I love dogs. Therefore I enjoy washing them,” because I had never volunteered to bathe the very sweet Felix and in fact his body odour didn’t offend me. I had learned long ago to breathe OUT when I was near him.

However, washing Felix was not going to be easy; I knew this from experience. Once before, about five years ago, he really did pong, as he had taken to playing in the ricefield and coming home caked in smelly mud.

At that time it was suggested that Krishna, the second-eldest child of Janet and her husband, Ketut, would be my assistant. Krishna, who is now a strapping six foot in his bare feet, was only 11 years old and a little reed of a boy. We managed to get the lead on Felix and then turned on the tap. Our one mistake: we were outside. I have never seen a dog rear up like a prize stallion but this scene stays firmly stamped in my memory, along with Felix’s paw prints on my chest, as he knocked me flat to the ground, jumped clear of Krishna and ran, for all his life, up Honeymoon Lane, the lead flying behind him with the lane dogs aiding and cheering on his escape.

So here we were, Ketut – Wayan’s auntie – and I, meeting for the first time to bathe Felix. We did have a couple of assistants, though: Wayan, who stands knee-high to a puddle duck, was offering his muscle power and Arjuna, Janet and Ketut’s youngest son, who was, I suspect, there to cheer on Felix and not help us at all.

Four of us and one dog in the downstairs bathroom of the family home with water and dog shampoo. Within three minutes both Ketut and I were drenched, Felix was covered in shampoo and our tiny assistants had fled the scene, taking refuge in the comforts of dryer areas. After 30 minutes we emerged the victors and Felix was much admired for his handsome new coat. Ketut and I have remained good friends, bonded by our Felix-bathing experience.

Life growing up with a dog-loving auntie like Ketut is any child’s dream and a couple of weeks ago when I was playing with the three little kittens that we had caught on the roof at Honeymoon Guesthouse, I noticed Wayan was staying on longer than usual. There was something on his mind and I sensed that it was up to me to find out. He wasn’t about to ask directly.

Preliminary niceties over, I went straight to the important questions. “Would you like to have one the kittens?” “Ndak (no)” was Wayan’s thoughtful response. Poor little kittens – I am not having any luck finding homes for them. “But you do like dogs, ya?” “Ya, I want one,” he replied in Indonesian. These words are the most joyful I can image but being a responsible person, I said I would seek his mother’s permission before whisking him to the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) to choose a puppy.

Mantung’s exuberant personality gives her the appearance of someone 10-foot tall. She told me that Wayan could definitely have a puppy once his tests for tuberculosis were clear. We had a week to wait and I couldn’t help thinking that this was the clever ploy of loving parents to take the fear out of the waiting by giving Wayan something else to think about.

It also just so happened that the Sunday after my conversation with Wayan, I was at the clinic when a family returned their little adopted puppy. In one respect it was sad that they didn’t bond with the puppy but, on the other, we were grateful they that chose to bring the puppy back to BAWA. Well, what can I say? “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” and Tiki, the returned puppy, was just perfect for Wayan.

Wayan received the news that his tests were negative and came quickly over to my office to arrange to come to BAWA and, of course, who else to bring him but his gorgeous auntie Ketut. I desperately wanted them to choose Tiki, so what better way than to say she looked like Felix. Wayan was convinced and this darling little puppy left for a life with one of the most loving families in Bali.

There are so many puppies needing homes at BAWA. Please consider a beautiful Bali puppy or kitten and if it’s not possible to have one – or two – then please donate to this really worthy foundation.

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