Two Puppies in Bali

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baby rice.jpg

(Rice Nurseries near Ubud)

When we arrive on our first day in Ubud we are greeted by two puppies. All ears and puppy fat, they are! Brown bead eyes pooling with the potential for love. Their soft mouths glove and suck at our fingers. So cute! Leaving our cats, Manon, Babu and Oscar for five weeks in a house full of plaster dust, in the (capable, I'm sure) hands of our builder Olivier, has been such a wrench. Though I made several attempts at mouse-massacre-proof bedding (trying to find the perfect balance between plastic protection, goose-down and toweling robes with our smells on them) I was worried that they would feel abandoned and even miss us. Certainly we would miss them. Here, however, almost on our doorstep, are two bundles of joy to take away the pain.

Every day the puppies move closer to us, and begin to anticipate our rising with their little squeals. Mum, a tigery, greasy, rather unattractive dog, lounges on the step, teets at the ready, should they need sustenance.

'Dogs are at the bottom of social strata' reads Julian from an ancient Lonely Planet volume from which most of the Ubud pages have been torn. We are sitting by the small private pool enjoying our lime-drenched breakfast of papaya, mango, mangosteen and banana. Beneath us, beyond the towering cluster of palms, is a river over which men are building a bamboo bridge to link the latest EatPrayLove villa from the main road to the 'rice paddy walk'. On the other side of the river ducks swim and flap in an empty rice paddy and a worker digs in the rain-softened earth. Everything is lush, even luxurious. 'Few dogs have owners and local interest in them is nil.' Julian quotes, adding that when Linda Buller of Bali Adoption Rehab Centre asked the locals what they felt about the dogs, they apparently said 'I'm so wrapped up in my own spirituality I have no time for a dog'.

What do they eat? we wonder. The offerings laid out everywhere, every morning even in the pouring rain, one of which, we had recently noticed, contained a cigarette and a miniature mars bar amidst the petals?

We have been here three days, fairly busy with our own spirituality, when the boy disappears. He is daring, fun-loving, and he runs in to the road in front of four wheel drives, bemos and bikes. Whhheee here comes another one lollop. We are having some nondescript rice and tofu dish in the restaurant next door, watching the mother run after him. She screams as he runs in front of a car, hoping against all hope that this will not be the vehicle to squash his little life. We are hoping the same thing, of course. The restaurant owner takes the girl for the umpteenth time from his steps where she is looking for something - scraps, love, us? - and plops her back on her adopted home, the step next door.

That is Thursday. On Friday we open the door and there is only one puppy.

The girl is clearly distressed at the loss of her playmate. She is quivering in shock. Withdrawn. Cowering. We comfort her and as we do she seems, over the next few days, to come back her sense of fun, greeting us almost fervently now when we return from a trip. We have to admit that affection for this animal has turned to love. Whatever that means. The builders next door obviously think we are completely bonkers.

On Tuesday, as we curve the moped in to the path after a day by the sea, we are excited to come home to her and are looking for in her usual spot in front of our door, but she is not there. Instead we find her on the bottom step of the video shop. Thank God (or Hanuman or whoever/whatever) she is alive, I think we are both thinking. That she has survived one more day. When we close the door to the house behind us, however, we remember something isn't quite right. Was she is sitting funny with one leg at a strange angle? I go back to her and find she is indeed injured. Unable to stand or climb back up on to the top step to feed. I go back to the Lonely Planet looking for Linda Buller. I ring all the numbers but to no avail. During the night it rains hard and my sleep is intermittent. I resolve in the morning to contact Richard. Though we have never met him he is a friend of Shelley, whom we have also never met but who is one of Julian's subscribers. He lives here with his Balinese wife Wayan, and has kindly got in touch. We have got as far as emailing about the possibility of having tea when I ring him at eight o'clock. 'You said you were early birds…' I start. I have checked on the puppy and she is in the same place, in the same awkward position, shivering now, possibly with a fever. Her mother has withdrawn from her, knowing there is nothing she can do. Richard gives me the name of the Balinese Animal Welfare Association. I look them up on the iphone, see the words 'mission is to relieve suffering', ring, and am so relieved to hear an American voice, I almost weep. 'We'll send an l ambulance right over' she says. 'Will you wait there for us?'

'We're just by Jungle Run Video' I say to the Balinese driver who seems to be lost. We are standing at the end of the path with our tea being watered down by heavy rain 'Before Naughty Nuris. After Ananda cottages…'

'In the jungle?' the driver says.

Eventually the little white van with Animal Ambulance written on its side turns in to the path. Three Balinese and one English fellow get out. They explain that the puppy's leg is indeed broken. An operation would be possible but it is expensive there is no owner to pay for it. Amputation is an option but then there are so many dogs with four legs that are adoptable she would not have much of a life. The best thing, probably, to put her out of her pain would be….'

We assent. Not that it is our place. I'm almost sobbing now. I stroke her nose and say goodbye as they take her in to the van. When I get back to the house our maid, a beautiful Balinese woman who floats silently, almost invisibly round the house every morning, is standing watching.

'Me too love poopy' she says. Me too every day give Balinese potato'. We hug.

3 Comments

Oh my ((o))

Ruth, this is so heart-wrenching. I feel your pain.
Oh, the suffering in paradise.

Thank you for sharing. I love your writing.

Jerry.

i am sorry i did not receive your call i was in Australia this year for a time, and phones are sometimes not answered, i hope your puppy is in good hands and recovering, strong, healthy and safe, enjoyed your article.

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