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A Man’s Best Friend – by Mike Bell


I have been accused of hating all dogs. This is categorically untrue. If I ruled the World, to quote Harry Secombe, "Working dogs: Guard, Sheep, Police, Sniffer, et al would be spared the axe."

I like any dog which hasn’t got a hole in its arse or any born without vocal chords. My objections to them depleting the World’s limited oxygen supply are obviously dog dirt and noise. I fully support the Cambodians’ desire to put dog meat on the menus of all Thai/Farang restaurants. Eating one, for me, would be payback time. In my youth I was a jogger; a serious one having run the London Marathon. During my training, I would total up to 60 miles in a week. This meant falling foul of dogs almost daily. Piles of crap on the pavement meant skidding to the ground just as you got into a powerful sprint finish. Getting the muck out of the tread patterns of your Wilson Running shoes took forever and was extremely repugnant into the bargain. There was always the danger of attacks as dogs sought to protect their master’s territory. Unlike Thailand this did not usually result in Rabies and injections were free after a four hour wait in Casualty. 

If an alien hovered over Earth and watched one species defecate on the ground and another species pick it up in plastic gloves, which species would the said alien attempt to open a peaceful dialogue with? What is it about dogs that they have no shame about crapping. A cat will seek out a secluded corner to do its business and then bury it. A dog flamboyantly searches out the most popular and crowded places like pavements, parks or football pitches.

 Now I’ve moved to Pattaya, I’ve discovered another set of reasons to hate dogs. The first is to do with aesthetics. We are surrounded by beauty in the Land of Smiles: the temples; the Grand Palace; most Thai ladies; even some of the buffalos with their mournful sad eyes and soft sandy fur. The dogs, however, are a horror show. Buddhism forbids the wholesale slaughter of these monstrosities but really! Park your car in the temple on Pattaya Thai and stroll round looking at the hairless and gaunt emaciated bodies. I am not talking about the monks either. These dogs are the well off ones! Every time you have your car blessed or your house sanctified or your father-in-law buried, you are contributing towards the only Social Service in Thailand. Old men may go mad; old ladies may starve but the temple dogs get fed twice daily. These are the lucky ones. Either they find their own way to the temple or are brought by well-meaning ladies. The ones who live wild on the sois are not so lucky and exceedingly ugly to
boot. These mangy, disfigured creatures scavenge among the garbage and can be a real threat to an inebriated farang stumbling his merry way home at three in the morning.

In packs of 20 or so, like motorbike taxi drivers, they would be more than a match for most farangs. Strangely they never bite Russians. Once away from the main thoroughfares they become yet another driving hazard. Because Mother Nature blessed them with a shaggy fur coat, they find the tropical climate too much for them and, like the Brits, seek shade where ever possible where they lie sleeping and panting with their tongues lolling in the dust during the heat of the day – the dogs do this also.

Quiz Question: If you are driving along at a steady 60 and find a sleeping dog in your path in the shade of a tree, do you:

a) swerve into the path of oncoming traffic? 

b) stop and have three motor bikes run into the back of you?

c) bang your head on the roof of the car as you run over it?

I live on a lovely up-scale Housing village where every thing is lovely except for the grass verges soiled by incontinent dogs. The estate is serene and peaceful except for the irritating chitter of birds who cannot tell the time at four in the morning, and the howling of hysterical dogs. In one soi of five houses, there are nine dogs; each one more nervous than the next. Let an insomniac bird disturb their slumber or a security guard patrol past their house and nine canine voices howl at the moon and can keep this up for hours with no ill effects. If a disturbed neighbour attempted to shout outside the owners’ house for three hours, the best he can hope for is laryngitis: the worst is getting arrested by the Thai police; well paying a 200 baht fine. There is clearly a case for lobbing meat patties laced with rat poison over the wall and hoping at least one of the owners suffers from night starvation.