Introducing Gramps: Street Dog Patriarch
Nowhere is the intense grind of a life spent scrounging out a living on the streets of Bangkok more apparent than on a stray dog's face, many of which bear scrapes and scars from past brawls and wrinkles from the tropical heat and sunlight. Street dogs aren't known for their longevity either -- in fact, you may have noticed that none of the dogs I've profiled previously are older that four or five years of age. Even if they don't fall victim to the fast-moving traffic on Bangkok's notoriously crowded roadways, stray dogs oftentimes succumb to disease, other predatory dogs, or worse, to malevolent humans.
That's what makes Gramps, a ten year old skinny brown mutt who hangs out near Wat Po, such an unusual study. Gramps has seen Bangkok change dramatically during his decade on the streets, and although he's not getting around so well these days, and his eyesight is failing, he's always eager to tell a story or two about the old days.
One of Gramps' favorite horror stories is about the chaos that gripped the street dog community in early 1997, when the city began construction on the BTS Skytrain system. "One minute, I was snoozing peacefully on the sidewalk, and the next, my reverie was smashed apart by the appearance of the gigantic, noisy construction machines," he laments. "My afternoon naps were never the same after that."
But not all his memories are bad ones. Gramps told me his favorite memory is of the year 1995, when he was just a puppy. He's a huge rock music fan, and that year an unprecedented number of high profile bands came to Bangkok to perform. Gramps used to be quite the athlete in his youth, and he was able to use his quickness and elusiveness to slip past security and gain access to several concerts all over the city that year. "I got to see the Beastie Boys, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Phil Collins, and even Michael Jackson," explains Gramps, with obvious excitement.
But then, his smile fades and he becomes melancholy. "It's a shame what's happened to Michael... I can't imagine he would do such awful things," says Gramps.