From Death’s Door to the Sweetest Thing

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Was the dog dead or near dead? Would it need to be euthanized? Janice Girardi’s mind was racing ahead as she stopped her car at the sight of the dog lying in the gutter. It had dried blood on both front legs and the left hind leg was facing backwards and upwards. You didn’t need to be a vet to know the horrible pain this dog was suffering.

Janice, who is the founder of the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA), feeds any number of dogs every morning, every week, all year round on her way to work at her jewellery headquarters and the head office of BAWA on Jl. Monkey Forest. She leaves home with enough dishes and dog food for the regular dogs that she feeds plus more for those that happen to be around, such as this one, still lying in the gutter but whose low, guttural growl warned Janice it was still very much alive and not excited about visitors.

Janice placed a dish of food near to the dog and then drove off, about 10 metres – just far enough away so the dog would not feel threatened. She watched through her side mirror as the dog slowly moved towards the food.

Now that Janice knew the dog could eat and was able to move, albeit slowly and with considerable difficulty, she decided to hold off getting the vets to euthanize it and she would check on it again that afternoon.

This dog became another of the dogs Janice feeds and over the next four months she slowly gained the trust of this badly injured dog, feeding it twice a day, rain hail or shine. Little by little she showed this dog that not all humans are insensitive to the lot of “dumb” animals. She would spend a moment with the dog, talking quietly while it ate.

When Elaine from Vets Without Borders visited, Janice asked her to come and check on this dog. Elaine offered two options: amputate the leg or euthanize the dog. Janice had been giving the dog pain relief tablets but this could not continue without it affecting its health, Elaine advised. She offered to donate the costs and to do the procedure herself.

The BAWA team, with Janice’s help, caught the dog and bought him back to the clinic. He was a mess.

This seemingly old dog, however, turned out to be not so old. In Elaine’s estimation he was only 3, perhaps 4, years old and not the 10 or 12 years that Janice had thought.

Elaine removed his back leg in a long and complicated operation. He became Kaki Tiga – Three Legs. He was also not so vicious once the painful leg had been removed and he became the darling of BAWA. Every single BAWA employee helped to nurse Kaki Tiga back to good health. It was a slow process as infection was always lurking, but as Janice explained, he turned out to be the gentlest of patients and even though his suffering was not over, he never complained.

Today Kaki Tiga has beautiful white fur and the sweetest brown eyes. He loves to nuzzle you when you are close and has never used that guttural growl that Janice heard so often in the first few weeks when she was feeding him.

He lives on site at BAWA and is possibly one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met. He doesn’t ask for much and he’s good with the other dogs. He watches many of them come and go and doesn’t complain that he isn’t adopted out. I’m not sure that he’s up for adoption, actually.

But what he loves more than anything in the world is a walk in the ricefields behind the BAWA Clinic. He loves company, too. He’s got his favourites as there are a couple of other older dogs that are long-term residents at BAWA and they are all so grateful for a walk each day; but Sundays are different.

You see, the problem is that every Sunday there is a smaller number of staff, and BAWA relies on volunteers. I wish I could tell you how much joy it gives these dogs to be walked in the fresh Ubud air, free from the confines of the clinic.

It gives me as much joy to walk these beautiful Bali dogs in the ricefields. Sundays, though, are difficult. Without volunteers, and depending on the number of puppies and kittens, Kaki Tiga and his friends may only get a short walk on Sundays.

Please consider helping out at BAWA and join me in celebrating Bali’s own dogs and cats. Have a look at www.bawabali.com or ring the clinic on 0361 981490. There are so many ways you can help: donate much-needed funds and cleaning products or you could walk Kaki Tiga and his friends through the ricefields behind BAWA and have a Sunday to remember!

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