A (Roman) Candle for Bali’s Animals

By Elizabeth Henzell

I read something funny on tripadvisor.com the other day. I was described as the American boss of the Casa Luna restaurant in Ubud. It said I “issued a demand” that I “sit in the private dining area” in Casa Luna.

On all counts incorrect, but the accusations still stand as tripadvisor has not given me the right of reply when I wrote to them to explain that a) I am not an American; b) I do not own Casa Luna in Ubud. (The Australian owner was in Australia at the time); c) I wasn’t demanding anything and why would I need to if I was the owner – there is an explanation for this assumption; and d) there is no private room at Casa Luna – the room in question is the Luna Lounge, which is the TV room available to guests who would like the comfort of a large table to read the dailies or to watch CNN on a big TV screen provided by the real owners of Casa Luna.

This totally incorrect piece of vitriolic diatribe got me thinking how it must feel for the real and voiceless beings of this world.

The Doorman, my favourite Bali street dog, is a perfect case in point. He did the strangest thing the other evening, something which he had never attempted to do before and something that had me worrying myself stupid as to what could have caused this behaviour. The answer was, in fact, quite simple, but I had the poor dog infected with rabies and spent a sleepless night wondering where he had gone.

You see The Doorman remains the one dog of the five friends – Mr Doggi; darling little Berri, who recently survived a poisoning – her story later; sweet Miss Moggi; and the new kid on the block, Poggi (yes, I know – who gives them these names? But hark back a decade or so when Blackie and Socks were all the rage) – that still has not been vaccinated against rabies.

This little group of dogs who congregate around Ibu Arini’s warung and shop on Jl Bisma all lined up – I was handing out liver treats, of course – and each of them was vaccinated without fuss. All, that is, except The Doorman, who bolted, and as hard as we tried we were unable to catch him. It has been number one on my list of things to do for ages. But herein lies the problem: The Doorman knows the sound of the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA) van and he disappears in a blink when he hears it arrive in Jl Bisma. He can also recognise the BAWA vets from a standing position of 50 metres. OK, maybe 20 – but the minute he see them he’s off like a shot and doesn’t look back, making it very difficult to vaccinate him.

So back to the evening of Monday 28 December: It was approximately 6.30pm and I was getting ready to join my daughter, Isobella and her boyfriend, Felix, at Casa Luna when I heard an urgent knock on my door. Edo, my very favourite of the Honeymoon guesthouse staff and the one I rely on to help with my cats and the feeding of the other strays around the place, stood at my door. This rarely ruffled person said: “The Doorman is under the bed in Indra room 28 and I can’t get him out.”

I quickly threw on clothes and raced over to help. The Doorman was indeed under the bed but no amount of coaxing, even with the famous liver treats, could get the slightest response from him. Thank heavens the guests were understanding! I needed to shimmy under their bed and grab him by his paws and pull him out. He didn’t resist and I picked him up bodily and carried him out. No sooner had I put him down than he bolted again, but this time he went into the reception office and under the large lounge there. He was there for a full five minutes when, according to Edo, he scurried out the door and up the road. We were all completely perplexed.

So after all this mêlée I finally got myself dressed and, with my basket of 50 neatly rolled sarongs with a little logo in the corner in a love heart that says “Bali dogs & cats,” I left to meet up with Isobella and Felix. The sarongs were a gift for all the staff at Casa Luna to say thank you for their friendship during 2009. Oh dear, but this did cause a fracas, around 7.30pm, which was interpreted by the tripadvisor member as me “demanding attention.” However, within five minutes the staff were back in order and ensuring that the Casa Luna guests were getting all their orders, with cutlery and salt and pepper.

Isobella, Felix and I were joined by Dewi, the Australian owner’s eldest daughter, and we adjourned to the Luna Lounge to watch a DVD. The Doorman’s behaviour was worrying me – so, unable to concentrate on yet another movie of the world’s demise, I left early.

The next morning the guests in room 28 called out to me. They told me that The Doorman had tried again to get into their room and this time they realised the cause of his unusual behaviour. At the very moment he went scurrying past their room, they had heard a loud bang and it was exactly the noise that invoked the same fearful response from their dogs back in Australia around this time of year. Fireworks!

If only The Doorman had a voice. Miss Moggi spends a lot of time with The Doorman these days. He may look tough but he is a pussy at heart.

Please consider the dogs and cats of Bali this time of year and be careful where you set off fireworks. For information about BAWA, please ring or visit their website at www.bawabali.com.

Filed under: Instinct

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