Good Ubud Samaritans

By Elizabeth Henzell
For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ The Doorman looks at me with bemusement, then asks: “How about a coffee, old son?”

The voice of the dog in Markus Zusak’s latest novel, The Messenger, is a real treat. Zusak, the author of the international bestseller The Book Thief has this stinky, coffee-drinking dog, lumbering alongside the book’s anti-hero, Ed Kennedy, as he sets about discovering the important things in life and above all, learning to care.

The Doorman has a dry wit, enjoys his coffee with milk and sugar and loves his chips with salt and vinegar. A dog after my own heart!

Last Friday evening at Indus in Ubud, I was settled in for a night of salsa to the fabulous sounds of Buena Terra. However, a newly acquainted friend had other ideas. Brigitte wanted to tell me about a tiny puppy she had seen that morning at the start of her walk along the Tjampuhan ridge. Could we go back there now?

Brigitte was shocked to see the state of this puppy. She had left it with some food and water but it was in need of some serious vet attention. Please go and check on it, she pleaded. I promised, tomorrow morning.

As fate would have it, I left an hour later than usual for my walk next morning and when I asked about the puppy at the warung near the Tjampuhan school, some students over heard. No, it wasn’t this warung, they said, but the little shop further down. And what quirk of fate had us arrive just as the owner was closing up, leaving the tiny puppy locked inside?

The owner unlocked the door and pointed into the dark. I couldn’t see a thing. Please turn on a light. No, that wasn’t necessary, she said, as she indicated again – “There.” So having no idea what I was about to grab, I put my sarong over the darkish lump under a chair and picked it up. Not a whimper, not a sound. When I got outside into the light, I could see blood on the sarong.

This Bali puppy was just as Brigitte had described – tiny, without fur and covered in scabies. The blood was coming from wounds on both sides of its back. What on earth caused them? Its sad eyes looked out from a face with more wrinkles than that Chinese breed with a zillion-dollar price tag. It was pathetic. The story this puppy could tell if only she had a voice.

Tutu, Brigitte named her, is now at the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). One slight wag of her tail when I arrived on Sunday and I was sure she remembered me. With food, clean water and warmth, her tragic beginnings are taking a turn for the better; but she has a long way to go before she will be able to be adopted. Watch this space!

Unlike Tutu’s unknown beginnings, the story of a mother dog and her litter of six tiny puppies saved by my friend Shauna from a ditch about to be filled with water can be recorded for posterity.

Through good deeds come good deeds.

Shauna sent me a text message last Thursday evening. A very pregnant dog had delivered six tiny puppies in a ditch. Realising this was no place for the puppies, Shauna enticed the mother dog away with a chicken frame and then quickly gathered up the puppies and brought them to a safe place, under the stairwell of her accommodation building. The mother dog, trusting Shauna, was grateful of the warmth and safety that had been provided for her litter.

But times are tough for many of us in this time of global economic recession and feeding a hungry mother with six pups and her three older puppies was going to take some finances. Shauna is the first to admit hers aren’t flash! But this didn’t stop her from taking on this helpless mother dog where others just crossed the road.

Out and about in her neighbourhood, Shauna asked at a number of eateries and ended up generous offers of food scraps and even a donation from her friend Desma. Another donation of a rice cooker, a quantity of rice and she is now able to feed these dogs until they can be adopted.

Shauna’s efforts and Brigitte’s concern had me thinking about the theme of this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival. Suka Duka – Compassion & Solidarity – is exactly what it took to see the safety of these Bali dogs; but wouldn’t you love to hear their voices? A Balinese Doorman, no less.

“Wayan, a kopi bali with susu to go!” A Bali dog’s day is never done.

BAWA is sponsoring a writing workshop for children during the festival, which runs from October 7–11. Clara Ng, author of 21 children’s books and novels, will be running the workshop. Perhaps Bali’s talented writing children will be the change that is so needed for these animals.

Please join me in celebrating Bali’s own treasures and donate or volunteer at BAWA. For more information ring Christine at 0361 981 490.

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