I live in Thailand, a country famed for it’s sunshine, beaches and laid back lifestyle. It is also one of the street animal capitals of the world. When we moved into our new house, within a few days we noticed a dirty, oil-stained cat living under a car on the street outside our house. It didn’t take him long to notice us either, and soon he was coming into our front yard, demanding strokes and love that I simply couldn’t give him in his current condition.
What followed was a trip to the vets to have him checked over. The vet put him at around 8 years old – pretty good going for a street animal. A few quick tests confirmed that my new friend had feline leukemia that was already quite progressive. He also had an infection in his face from mites in his ears. He was generally in a bad way, and of course being the soft-hearted girl that I am, when we went home that day he no longer stayed outside but was welcomed into my home. Knowing that I live in a country that doesn’t allow animals to be put down, I vowed to take care of him until the end.
I decided to call him Brian; it suited him. He had the attitude of a grumpy old man (wouldn’t you after 8 years living on the streets?) but he loved a snuggle. As time went on, Brian’s leukemia progressed more and more. He began to lose weight and lost the sight in one eye. But he kept on giving those snuggles until the very end. Our time together may have been brief but I am happy to have made his final year a happy, comfortable love-filled one.
Ask anyone who has been to Thailand and they will tell you that the streets are inhabited by endless packs of dogs and cats (and goats, monkeys, cows… I’ve even spotted a rogue pig or two chilling on the roadside).
These animals live in a variety of levels of comfort, cleanliness and happiness but luckily the majority of animals that I see living on the streets are relatively well fed, clean and have a seemingly happy existence.
As there are countless animals on every street corner, the Thai people are very used to them being around. Elderly people going on their evening after-dinner walks are usually armed with a stick in case they come across any dangerous dogs but usually they are placid and barely cast a sideways glance at you before returning to their snooze.
Despite living on the streets, these animals (the dogs especially) seem to be un-bothered by the motorbikes, cars and pickup trucks that drive along the roads and usually like to snooze smack bang in the middle of the street.
Most drivers casually drive around them or toot their horn to get them to move.
But this doesn’t always happen.
Yesterday was the second time that I’ve seen a dog being hit by a car (not including the countless times I’ve seen the aftermath of such a thing laying in the road) and what made it worse this time was that it was our dog.
That’s the thing about street dogs; they may not have a home but they will have a section of the street that is theirs, and any homes that fall into that section automatically become part owner of said dog, providing food with leftovers.
Khao is a dog old before his years. Life on the streets has given him a tired appearance and his once white fur (hence the name Khao – Thai for white) is now dirty. Over the past few months we have been feeding him regularly (he’s now on a comparatively gourmet diet of actual canned dog food) and he is looking and acting so much better. Tom even went to the vets and they gave him sedatives so that he could give him a proper wash (Khao is really scared of water). When we brought Patches home as a puppy he finally had a dog that he could call a member of his pack.
Yesterday lunch time Khao was sleeping in the middle of the street, as three or four dogs usually do. A pick up truck full of builders was driving along and slowed down when they saw him. But this time, instead of driving around him or beeping their horn, they carried on approaching him and just didn’t stop. So instead of realising that this dog couldn’t hear them coming and stopping or changing course along the road, they drove right over him and carried on as if nothing had happened. Obviously Khao woke up with a start and yelped, and we realised what they had done. By the time we were outside Khao had limped off to hide in the bushes and the truck was gone.
After an hour or so Khao made his way back to our house and came right into our front yard. His back feet and ankles were bloody and he couldn’t put much weight on either one. His groin was all swollen and bruised too, and he just kept looking down at his injuries and trying to lick them. When we saw his injuries it became apparent that a mysterious groin and leg injury that Patches had a few weeks ago was probably from a run in with a vehicle too.
This morning when we woke up he was gone from the garden and to be honest I thought he may have gone off somewhere to die. But we found him around the corner sheltering, probably because his injuries mean he won’t be able to fight off any other dogs that he might run into in the night.
It made me so angry to think that these people would just knowingly run over an animal and carry on as if nothing had happened. The first time I saw it happen was a dog that lives a few houses down, who was run over by his ‘owners’ at a fair speed – they actually stopped and got out of the car and I stupidly thought they were going to take him to the vets, but they just laughed and shouted at the poor thing. He had a dislocated and broken leg, but like many dogs, he fixed up and now just has a war wound and a limp.
I’m sure that Khao will heal up just like all the other animals that fall foul to the trucks and cars of the streets of Thailand. But I just wish that someone would learn – either the dogs, who could have a snooze at the side of the road, or the drivers, who could be more aware of what they are doing with their vehicles.
You might remember when we found a little pup on the side of the road all alone in the rain. Well, he’s not so little anymore! He’s been living outside our house with the other dog that was left behind when the neighbours moved (despite them telling us they would take him next week… next week… next week…). Patches is a bit of a naughty boy, but he’s not really ours to train so we’ve got as far as gettin him to sit and he will come to us when we call him – which is pretty impressive for a street dog!
Anyway, thought I would give you a little update on the not-so-small puppy that we call Patches. He is a bit of a looker if I say so myself!
I’ve had a little break from updating the blog this weekend but I think I have a pretty valid reason…
Project Puppy anyone…?
Found this little one and couldn’t find any trace of a mummy dog, or any other dogs for that matter. With no houses around and no shelter, we bundled him up and brought him to what is quickly becoming the local animal shelter (AKA my home).
Unlike Cat, we are looking to re-home this little fella, but in the meantime I get to have lots of fun puppy love!
Well, this is certainly long overdue! You may recall that back in April I made this post about a tiny kitten we had found in school on the last day of term that we decided to take home with us. That post ended with my prediction that she would run away while we were in Chiang Mai, with different neighbours and friends popping in to feed her and check her.
I’m happy to say that didn’t happen, and Cat the kitten (the non-commital name that I first gave her has stuck) is now a permenant fixture of our temporary home. Obviously I am well aware that she will live a lot longer than the time I am going to be living in Thailand, but if we hadn’t taken her in that day she would have starved to death or been mauled by one of the dogs that live on campus. So, as bad as I feel allowing her to become attached to me, without us she wouldn’t be alive. When the time comes for us to leave we have already spoken to a few people who could potentially take her on.
Here’s the inspiration for her non-name:
We are doing everything properly too; she has been spayed and is getting all the necessary shots. You know, it only cost 500THB which is a little over a tenner – if more people could spay or neuter a stray it would have a massive impact on the amount of street animals that there are in Thailand. Every few weeks we see the body of a dead animal (often a little pupppy) that has run into the road and been hit by a car, or has been abandoned and died. It’s horrible. I know in my last post about street animals in Thailand I was talking about how cute these little pups are, but what kind of life are they going to have living on the roadside, only going on to either have an early death or to create more litters of puppies with no homes, who will go on to.create more litters of puppies…
The issue doesn’t seem to be as prevalent with cats, but in our school alone there must be around 20 cats. At the rate that they can reproduce, that could easily become 200 cats in a year. I’m not saying that everyone should take in a stray as a pet but surely some sort of spaying programme could be set up? We are heading to Koh Lipe this weekend and they had a big problem with stray dogs and had to set up a programme. Now when you see dogs on the beaches they have all for different tags and marks on them to show if they have been spayed or have had rabies injections. Eventually the number of dogs will go down, reducing the dog problem overall.
Koh Lipe Vet Care Project video:
Speaking of dogs, Khao – the neighbour’s dog that got left behind – is still living outside our house. We have been feeding him oily fish and complete dry food and he is looking so much better already. The neighbours only used to feed him their left overs which were minimal and usually only consisted of a bit of rice and some fish bones. All the fur has grown back on his tail and he is no longer horrible to touch. He’s got less sores and generally seems more comfortable. I think it’s a mix of having a better and more stable diet and simply being happier – he looks like he has stopped waiting for the neighbours to return so maybe he is getting over that.
Anyway, enough doom and gloom. Here are some cute kitten pictures! Yay!
(Look away now if repetitive photos of cute animals are not your thing. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)