Bangkok Street Dogs

A place to learn about the lives of street dogs in Bangkok, Thailand, with emphasis on the individual characters of the Bangkok street dog community and their stories of hardship and humor.

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Introducing Krazy Kal

Every community has its freaks and weirdoes, and the Bangkok street dog community is no exception. This paranoid looking fellow is Krazy Kal, a 6 year old brown and white mutt who has long been known as the resident conspiracy theorist of our group. Even though we've known each other for a couple of years, Krazy Kal didn't feel comfortable with me taking his photo, and was convinced that I was some sort of Bangkok municipal government operative plotting to make his life miserable!

Krazy Kal believes that every new city project or initiative is somehow rooted in conspiracy and the government's desire to control the minds of people and cause them to lose their love for dogs. He's convinced that the government is working behind the scenes to install secret equipment to bring about this change in popular opinion towards canines. For years, Krazy Kal's response to any challenge to his conspiracy theories has been: "Hey, the government thinks that if people are mean to us street dogs, then we'll just leave town. And that's what they want us to do!"

Take for example, his response to the opening of the Bangkok Mass Transit System Skytrain in 2000. Although he was just a young pup, Krazy Kal used to rant and rave for hours to anyone who'd listen that the Skytrain was set up with invisible laser beams designed to remove passengers' innate caring and kindness towards animals and replace it with a hostile attitude -- particularly towards members of the Bangkok street dog community. As proof, Kal cited an incident in which someone stepped on his tail as he was sleeping on the sidewalk near a Skytrain station.

The 2004 opening of the Bangkok Subway provided Krazy Kal with more opportunities to concoct similar government-sponsored conspiracy theories. A serious subway accident in early 2005 and several subsequent computer glitches were evidence, at least in Kal's warped point of view, that the government mind control equipment hadn't been properly tested before installation. "Once they fix the glitches, people will be coming out of those subway stations ready to wreak havoc upon any Bangkok street dogs they see," he told me recently.

"Hey wait, you're not taping this conversation, are you?"

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Introducing Dusty

You might say that Dusty, a 4 year old white female who seems to be perpetually in need of a bath, is the Poet Laureate of the Bangkok street dog community. Unlike most dogs -- whose primary aims are limited to eating and procreation -- Dusty spends the majority of her time thinking, about life and her place in the cosmos.

As a result of her navel-gazing, Dusty has achieved significant personal growth and is one of the more well-adjusted dogs you'll ever meet. Dusty’s just as happy lounging around on the dirt floor of a marketplace as she is on the sidewalk – in fact, she prefers a life of austerity, as she feels this lifestyle enables her to produce her best work.

You may be asking yourself: How does a canine Poet Laureate express herself? It's not like she can fire up the laptop and start typing out literary masterpieces, or sit down with a notebook and scribble furiously for hours. Well, as it turns out, Dusty is quite a resourceful dog, and she has mastered the technique of finding areas of freshly laid cement all over the capital, and then using it as a canvas for her works of canine literature.

Dusty ‘writes’ her poetry by leaving patterns of footprints in the wet cement that only other dogs can read and understand. Her works -- most of them brimming with humor and optimism -- explore simple themes of Bangkok street dog life such as hope, hunger, unrequited love, and the desire to chase cats.

In the following excerpt from her most famous work, "Ruminations on a Chicken Breast", Dusty examines the pathology of desire and offers a roadmap for how to avoid its destructive effects:

"In the shop window, a roasted bird
if I could take you, without being heard.
Happiness would be mine!
But alas, I am just a wretched hound
But it could be worse - I could be in the pound."

Writing poetry in wet cement is risky work – Dusty told me she has had a few close calls with road workers who have seen her at work and not been able to appreciate the subtle nuances of her craft. But Dusty is determined to continue to express herself on Bangkok’s sidewalks, as there are few other artistic outlets for canine artists in the capital.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Introducing Spike

Spike, a well-built, tough black and white male who calls Bangkok's Thonburi district home, is what is known on the street as an "Enforcer". To his friends in the Bangkok street dog community, Spike is like a guardian angel, providing much-needed protection from bullies for the smaller members of the canine population. Many have said that there is nothing quite as thrilling as the sight of Spike charging into the scene of a battle like a one-man canine cavalry to save the day.

Spike's the kind of dog who doesn't hang out with any one particular group of dogs, preferring instead to befriend a small and diverse group of hounds. Spike also has a low tolerance for fake friends or dogs that seek to use his strength to fight their battles for them. Believe me, there are plenty of wimpy dogs that would love to have Spike as their secret weapon, but Spike has no problem telling these types of losers to take a hike. And if they don't, usually all it takes is for Spike to give a growl and they're history!

Spike's ongoing battle against injustice in the Bangkok street dog community takes him all over the city. This means he has to get creative sometimes in order to cover large distances in a short period of time. Luckily, Spike knows a #43 bus driver who allows him to ride on his bus. Turns out Spike saved the guy once from a pack of overly territorial street dogs that had cornered him in an alley.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Introducing Einstein

I'll be honest... Einstein, a 4 year old black and brown male, is not the smartest dog in Bangkok. In fact, most of us Bangkok street dogs think he's pretty naive and boneheaded. Not that we don't like him - in fact, he's quite a funny and personable dog. Einstein lives near Bangkok's World Trade Center, at the intersection of Ploen Chit and Ratchadamri roads.

We gave this hapless hound the name Einstein as a sarcastic way of teasing him, but he actually has grown to embrace the nickname. Over the years, Einstein has done some pretty dim-witted things, such as licking wet paint (right next to a 'Wet Paint' sign), stepping in fresh cement, and attempting to initiate amorous relations with a fire hydrant. He also used to chase fire trucks, until that one day when the firemen on board turned the high-pressure water hose on him, sending the poor fella careening into a nearby street sign. Like I said, Einstein is no genius!

Einstein also has a soft spot for female dogs, and he'll often try to impress them. He's a sweet dog, and his heart is in the right place, but unfortunately, more often than not, he just ends up making himself look kind of foolish. Case in point: One time, Einstein saw a cute young poodle walking with her owner on the sidewalk near the Sogo Department store. He wanted to do something to impress this pretty poodle, so he came charging over (in his customarily clumsy fashion) and began to sing a romantic song for her. Only problem was, Einstein can't sing: His voice is like claws on a chalkboard.

Horrified by the infernal racket, the dog owner and poodle quickly ran off, but Einstein -- by this time really getting into it -- simply kept singing, until his love ballad was unceremoniously brought to an end by a streetside food seller dumping a bucket of dirty dishwater all over him.