Castaways, on a New Life Journey

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us. – Ashley Montagu (1905-1999)

Sometimes in the worst of times something really beautiful happens that you will take into your heart and hold it there and it is yours and no one can take it away.

Just the other day I was reminded about a morning late last year when I had to ring the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). It wasn’t long after I had left for my morning walk and cutting through from Jl. Kajeng to Jl. Suweta in the centre of Ubud I meet up with an elderly lady sweeping the leaves off the footpath. A skinny, hairless little puppy was nearby, so I asked if it belonged to her. She indicated a very firm NO!

So the ever-present sarong was utilised and the puppy was quickly gathered up, albeit yelping its head off, to be calmed and snuggled until the arrival of the BAWA emergency van. Dr. Eko was on night duty and took my call, saying he would be straight out. I told him that I would start walking towards Jl. Raya and would reach the Ubud Palace corner and wait there for his arrival.

About another 50 metres ahead I could see what appeared to be a cat sitting on the footpath. My first reaction was what an amazing cat to be sitting there with people walking past. Unlike your average Bali cat that would have scuttle away immediately, this one appeared calm. However, as I neared closer, I realised that the cat wasn’t calm but unable to move. To my horror I could see that it had been injured. It was my guess that it had been hit during the night. It appeared to have suffered a broken back. Its upper body was still functioning but the lower part of the body was immobile. I rang BAWA again. “Hurry, please.”

With the puppy now settled, wrapped in the sarong, I stood quietly near the cat trying to direct people from walking too close to it. Dr. Eko arrived and we put the puppy in the dog crate in the back of the van and bought my sarong back to the cat.

Dr. Eko needed to euthanize it immediately, to put it out of this hell it had lived for the past number of hours. Gently, but taking care not to get scratched, Dr. Eko put the sarong over the cat, which was frightened beyond belief. How do you tell a cat that what you are about to do will release it from its pain? He administered the sedative that calms an animal before the euthanizing injection. I knelt beside him, quietly stroking the cat through the sarong and hoping that it helped in some small way.

As soon as the lethal injection had been given I excused myself, feeling very self-conscious that I was crying. Dr. Eko indicated towards the sarong? “No, please, keep the cat in the sarong.” I got up and walked away.

About a minute on it occurred to me that leaving then was self-indulgent. How was Dr. Eko feeling? I turned to walk back and saw the van coming towards me, and as I started to mouth the words “thank you” I saw Dr. Eko put his hands together in that very Balinese way to thank ME. I was so touched by his gesture.

The BAWA staff work tirelessly for Bali’s dogs & cats, but they are often the first to thank others for the little they do. I am constantly thanked for my Sunday work, which is rarely more than feeding kittens and puppies, walking the long-time resident dogs and the most wonderful job of all: cuddling them.

Last Sunday was joyful. A tiny puppy suffering horrible scabies and malnutrition that I had brought in from a trip to Singaraja some six weeks before was now nearly ready for adoption.

I had been watching her progress but this Sunday she had blossomed. In the article I wrote about the trip to Singaraja I mentioned, I wanted to call her Lana Turner, after the legendary screen actress of the 40s. I knew that after the BAWA team had taken care of her she would be equally as beautiful! Well, certainly in my eyes, she is now a beauty of the dog kind.

There were three other little puppies I was looking to see last Sunday also. Ellia, Eliza and Ellio were sighted last Wednesday morning while on my way to the Ubud Fitness Centre. They were scavenging food on Jl. Raya and in danger of being killed by the morning traffic. How on earth did they end up outside the BPT Bank on the corner of Jl. Hanuman? According to the bank staff arriving to work, these puppies had been dumped there the day before. Why? The BAWA clinic is little more than 15 minutes on from the main street of Ubud.

Once again I called BAWA and once again Dr. Eko was on duty. He found me within 20 minutes and with the help of the BPT bank staff, we caught these beautiful little Bali puppies.

By Sunday, Ellio had already been adopted, but his beautiful little sisters remained. Why, I always ask, when female puppies, like their male counterparts, will be sterilised for free at BAWA, do they not get adopted as quickly? These puppies need you but more than that, these Bali “street” dogs are capable of giving you more joy than you can imagine.

Please give them a chance and adopt a Bali dog today. Come to BAWA and meet the staff. See for yourself and make a difference. Ring Christine at 0361 981490 or have a look at www.bawabali.com and donate.

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