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The trip to Tabanan to see how Lana and Messy, two BAWA – Bali Animal Welfare Association – puppies, were enjoying their new home had been planned for the previous weekend. For one reason or another I couldn’t make it and moped around all week feeling less than on top of the world until I was well and truly struck down with the dreaded “funny tummy” that every second tamu I meet seemed to be suffering from as well.

It is always amusing when I hear people say they had eaten here or there or that they had eaten this or that and that, therefore, was definitely the cause of their miserable night bathroom visits – Bali Belly.

In my case, it was categorically because I’d swallowed half a glass of tap water! A bout of amoebic dysentery was on the cards. Or was it that I’d enjoyed just one too many “Naked Range Wines” at the wine-tasting the evening before? However, by the wee hours of Friday morning, when even water wasn’t going to stay with me, I realised that yet again I had contracted the same virus as the others I’d spoken with who were ill. Viruses spread like wildfire in hot, humid climates, I’m told.

And why after a year of not having anything remotely like a sick day, well except for one day after someone’s 50th, was I susceptible to this virus? It was, in my humble opinion, because I was already low, physically and pathetically mentally low, and that will knock the socks off you every time.

So here I was enjoying the trip to Tabanan, still slightly seedy, even though I’d spent the entire Friday swanning around on my four-poster bed incapable of even reading a book with my head thudding from a dehydration headache. Another insightful piece of information – when you are not keeping anything down, keep sipping water or green coconut juice. I know that! But do you think I follow my own instructions? No! So I suffered the consequences.

The trip to Tabanan was gorgeous. The countryside is beautiful and the townships that we passed through are the typically busy Indonesian towns. I love it. Tabanan is a part of Bali that, as my good friend Janet De Neefe says, is inhabited by the delightful Tabanan people who have a reputation for being cheerful and full of vitality.

Ibu Made is the absolute embodiment of a Tabanan person with her ready smile and effervescent personality. She, with her equally sweet husband, Made (how confusing is that! My driver, Made, drove me there and when I called “Made” at one stage during the morning, all of them answered and I was reminded of the days when I was one of a hundred women in a supermarket who answered all at once to one plaintive “mummy!”), are now the proud parents of their adopted BAWA puppies.

Lana, surely you already know her story but a quick refresh – my daughters and I found her in Singaraja on July 4 and I immediately named her Lana Turner after the American beauty who, like our little Lana, knew hardship due to her family being so very poor but went on to be a star. Our little bundle of hairless bones, with the worst case of scabies I’d ever seen, didn’t even have a family; so we bought her to BAWA, where orphaned puppies are mended and found homes.

Messy was bought into BAWA with a horrible skin disease on her feet. She looks part Border Collie – at a stretch – but whatever; she is beautiful with a personality to match. The skin disease on her feet has now healed but at its worst attracted flies and to this day she is frightened of them. She loves sitting close to Ibu Made, who keeps up an unconscious constant flick to keep any fly away.

Lana’s barking heralded our arrival. She still recognised my voice after a month and it was exactly the medicine the doctor would have ordered if he’d known the truth about my misery. It is true: There is no better medicine than the love and loyalty of our four-legged family members.

But there was a serious side to this visit. Tabanan now has the highest number of deaths attributed to rabies and these puppies definitely needed to be vaccinated against the rabies virus. I would offer to pay for this because the cost of vaccinating is out of the price range for the average Balinese family.

Ibu Made looked at me quizzically when I told her the importance of vaccinating the “girls.” “Of course, she says – sudah.” Janet is right! Tabanan people are delightful but I’ll add another superlative – they are caring and they are smart. I love this family and have been invited back as often as I wish. Ibu Made has a little cottage industry making krupuk and Made and I left with a bundle for my friends back in Ubud.

Please help BAWA in their efforts to get all the dogs of Bali vaccinated against rabies. Vaccination needs to be done free of charge and only with the help of those who can pay will those who can’t be able to have their Bali dogs vaccinated.

Please contact BAWA – 0361-977217 or visit their website at www.bawabali.com. Only with your help will they be able to vaccinate the dogs of Bali and eradicate rabies.

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