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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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Introducing Rocky the Bus Cleaner

Bangkok's municipal buses ferry hundreds of passengers every day, and by the time they pull up at the bus depot at the end of the day after lurching back and forth through the crowded city streets, these vehicles are usually awash in crumbs and sticky drink spills. Although there are city employees whose job it is to clean these buses, they're unable to reach all the nooks and crannies in a bus, which over time leads to a quick buildup of gnarly grime.

Rocky, an enterprising two year old black mutt who lives around the Victory Monument area (along with dozens of other street dogs), used to always sneak into the open doors of buses when they pulled up at the local depot, in order to lick the sugary spills and crumbs from off the bus floor. He’d wait until the drivers opened the doors to air the buses out, and then bolt with cheetah-like speed into the empty vehicles for a feast. He's pictured here with a bone from the spoils of one of his daring daylight raids.

One day about six months ago, an entourage of city officials was touring the area, followed Rocky as he snuck onto a bus, and watched him scour the floors with his toungue until the bus was spotless. Instead of scolding Rocky (as many bus drivers had done when they'd caught him in the act), the officials immediately offered Rocky a job as a city bus cleaner. Since then, Rocky has won the municipality's Employee of the Month three times, and his comprehensive cleaning style has become the model for other, human bus cleaners to emulate.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Introducing Chester: Raconteur Extraordinaire


My good friend Chester, who lives on Silom Road near the Chao Phraya river, is a bit camera shy, and always starts whining whenever someone points at camera at him. "Get that damn camera out of my face, will ya?" is his usual plea.

But once you get past that shyness, Chester's a fun dog to hang out with. He's an exceptionally gifted storyteller who likes to embellish his tales with sensational details.

One of Chester's favorite stories is about the time he caused a miscreant mongrel that had been bullying the local street community to lose face. This bully, who went by the nickname of Jaws, would always drop by with several of his mangy mates to steal food and terrorize any dog that was unfortunate to get in their way.

But one day, when the bullies showed up and demanded food, Chester was ready for them. The previous night, he'd found some scraps in the trash and managed to cobble together a chicken pie. Then, he found some prik kee noo -- the ferociously hot chili peppers used in a variety of Thai dishes -- and ground them up and incorporated them invisibly into the pie.

Anyway, when Chester presented the pie, Jaws immediately dove into it, finishing the whole thing in about 6 seconds. But then, the chilis started kicking in, and before long, Jaws was reduced to a howling, squealing shell of his usual bully self. As he lay on the ground writhing in pain, me and the rest of Chester's buddies erupted in laughter, and Jaws' mates ran off with their disgraced leader in tow.

The moral of this story is: Don't mess with guys like Chester -- it's the nice guys like him that you have to watch out for if you ever get on their bad side.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Story of Doleful Danielle

Doleful Danielle

Bangkok has a lot of traffic jams. A lot less than there used to be, but people still spend lots of time in their cars, waiting for traffic lights to change. That spells opportunity for enterprising street dogs like Doleful Danielle, who earned her nickname by pulling sad faces and soliciting change and food scraps from sympathetic motorists. She's pictured here working the intersection of Asok and Sukhumvit during the evening rush hour. Doleful Danielle
Danielle is quite good at her craft, and regularly pulls in more cash than any other street dog. But she's smart about her success: Instead of blowing her earnings on frivolous expenditures and fancy meals, Danielle decided to join a gym, to keep in shape and enable her to maintain the level of athleticism needed to dart in and out of traffic while collecting coins. One look at those rippling muscles and perfect physique tells you all you need to know about Danielle's commitment to fitness.

Her plan is to work a few more years, make some investments, and then start channeling the fruits of her successes back into the Bangkok street community. She's going to give lessons on how to really work the sympathy angle with motorists, thereby sharing her natural talents and helping other dogs to leverage their own innate skills.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Inertia Creeps


Yeah, I know: I've been very lame by not posting for the last several months. I offer no excuses, although I did spend a couple of weeks during the past five months in Bangkok, where I took dozens of new photos for this blog. So despite me being a total slacker of late, the good news is there will be lots and lots of new photos posted soon.

I met a lot of new dogs while I was in Bangkok - even got chased once. I was taking a sleeping older dog's photo as he slept underneath a highway overpass on Ratchadapisek Road near the Klong Toey market, and the camera flash apparently woke him up. He woke with a start and then rose to his feet, growling in a low, guttural tone that convinced me to quickly hightail it out of there.

Anyway, apologies for the lack of posts in recent months. Inactivity has a way of creeping into the mind and settling in the bones. I'm back now though -- bear with me while I shake off the rust, please.