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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Monday, May 23, 2005

Introducing Chops

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: This is one terrifying and ugly hound, who actually looks a lot like a canine version of Hannibal Lecter. But, as they say, appearances can be deceiving. That's not a muzzle around the snout of Chops, a 2 1/2 year old terrier/mastiff mix who lives near a small market in Bangkok's Din Daeng district -- it's actually an orthodontic harness that works in conjunction with dental braces to straighten his teeth.

Yes, you heard that right: Chops wears braces. Because for most of his life, Chops has sported a smile that could best be compared to that of a smashed Halloween jack-o-lantern, with gnarled, twisted teeth going every which way, giving him a rather frightening and vicious appearance.

As a result of his scary grill, Chops hasn't exactly been popular with the female dogs. In fact, he can't even get a phone number when he goes out to clubs. And that's a shame, because Chops is actually quite a kind, gentle dog who just wants to be appreciated by the opposite sex.

So badly does the romance-minded Chops desire a beautiful smile with straight, pearly white teeth that he's willing to not only endure the physical discomfort of the braces and the harness, but also the ridicule that is rained down on him by many other (heartless) members of the Bangkok street dog community. These mangy hounds may think it's funny that Chops is trying to improve his looks, but they probably won't be laughing when the braces come off and he is transformed into the most handsome dog in Bangkok (except for me, of course).

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Introducing Sandy the personal trainer

Sandy, a 4 year old tan and white spotted mix of several different breeds, is an inspirational example of a former Bangkok stray dog who managed to find a way off the streets and into a better life. On the strength of her impressive swimming ability and overall athleticism, Sandy was recently hired as a personal trainer at a special new pool for stray dogs with arthritic conditions that will open in Bangkok this week.

The Suvarnachad Canine Pool is a project initiated by His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who, as I mentioned in an earlier post, is a big supporter of Bangkok street dogs. Located at Bangkok’s Kasetsart University, the pool is named after His Majesty's pet dog Thongdaeng, who is himself a former street dog.

The pool will have two sections: one for healthy dogs to exercise, the other for suffering dogs to undergo physical therapy. And that's where Sandy comes in. She'll be working as a personal trainer providing therapy to the sickly street dogs, coaching and helping to push along their swimming exercises to help them gain maximum healing effect.

It's a high profile job, and a far cry from Sandy's humble beginnings as a pup wandering the crowded, dusty Chatuchak Weekend Market in northern Bangkok. "I was lucky to find a way off the streets and into a higher position in society," explains Sandy. "Now, I just want to give something back to my street dog brothers and sisters."