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, August 22, 2005

Introducing Gentle Joe

This is Gentle Joe, a 4 year old scraggly sheepdog-type of dog who hangs out mostly near Siam Square. He is normally found lounging on the cool stone walkways outside the area's many shopping malls, where the occasional breeze from within the shopping emporiums will blow out some welcome frosty air.

As a matter of fact, this may be why Gentle Joe is such a calm, cool character. Unlike other Bangkok street dogs, who will fight over the slightest trangression (perceived or real), Joe doesn't get involved in the snarling sidewalk brawls that greatly tarnish the reputation of street dogs due to their noise and general viciousness. Instead, Joe takes in the world at a very leisurely pace, and is usually content to sit gaze as the world passes by.

"My view is, why should I get involved in these silly dog street fights?" Joe once told me. "It's already way too hot out here during the day and also at night. Energy is in limited supply, and I prefer to use mine in more, shall we say, productive ways."

Monday, August 15, 2005

Introducing Bruno the Heckler

Bruno, a two year old brown and black mutt who hangs out near the lake at the Tobacco Monopoly of Thailand on Ratchadapisek Road, is the Official Heckler of the Bangkok street dog community. His favorite activity -- and one that takes up most of his energies -- is sitting alongside busy roads and sidewalks and making cutting remarks about other dogs that pass by.

Part of the reason why Bruno is such a verbal bully is that he's very self-conscious about his looks -- I mean, let's face it, he's not going to win any contests for handsomeness. In fact, Bruno's mom was actually not a dog, but a hyena! She escaped from the Bangkok zoo in July 2003 and led animal control experts on a wild chase around the city, apparently finding enough time to become pregnant before she was captured. Bruno endured a lot of teasing growing up, which is probably why he became such an insufferable nuisance!

Bruno aims his invective at both street dogs and dogs with owners. He particularly loathes small, fancily-coiffed dogs such as poodles and terriers, and he becomes extremely agitated whenever he sees one. Just after I took this photo, Bruno noticed a well-groomed Chihuahua yapping noisily at him out of the closed window of a passing Mercedes, and erupted with a staccato burst of unrepeatable insults. "Hey tough guy, why don't you come over here and bark in my face?" laughed Bruno, his voice dripping with derision. "I've eaten breakfasts bigger than you, you little fluff-ball!"