Monday, December 6, 2010

Dog Blog

Nov. 28

Dogs. They’re everywhere. All the time. I don’t even notice them barking at night any more.

I haven’t done a complete study, but it seems that even dogs have schedules, or at least routines. I often see the same dogs, in the same spot, at the same time of day, looking like they have an appointment to keep. They walk briskly with a definite focus.

Most of the strays here are medium-sized, similar-looking mutts, although there are a few unique ones. Most are in surprisingly good condition. Although I’ve seen a few with mange, a few with a limp, and a few skinny ones, overall they look pretty good.

The only time I’ve seen the aggressive side of these dogs is when one of them has some food. Unlike their human countrymen, the dogs are definitely not into sharing. A few teachers share their snacks with the dogs, or bring something to give them. The food tends to be just starch, but so is most of the Bhutanese human diet.

In late October, early November, many, many litters of pups were born all over Mongar. We have at least five litters of puppies on the school campus alone, and each litter seems to be about five puppies. They are so cute, as are puppies all over the world. I can watch their antics for ages. The mothers don’t have much patience with their pups, and I often see the pups chasing after their mums, trying to nurse while their mum keeps walking away. A few days ago, during morning prayer at the assembly ground, a little puppy took shelter under my friend’s kira. Very cute.

There is an open concrete drain, about eight inches deep, all around the school, and the littlest puppies have trouble jumping over it. Luckily, at this time of year, it is usually dry. When the puppies fall in, they are not quite big enough or strong enough to get themselves out. From my classroom, I often hear them whimpering. When I go out to check, they look so helpless, standing on their hind legs with their front paws on the edge, trying and trying to pull themselves out. I’ve lifted the same little runt out many times.

A few months ago, before I was deaf to the barking, the dogs were particularly noisy one night. It seemed that every dog in town was on a rant. I mentioned it at school in the morning, and a few people said that dogs bark when they sense death. There had been a terrible accident that night, just outside Mongar, in which a vehicle had gone off a cliff, and the six passengers, who were monks and lamas, had all been killed.The bodies had been brought to Mongar hospital during the night.

I’ve heard of different methods they’ve tried to limit the number of dogs in Mongar. One method I read about was to pay someone to collect as many strays as possible, and drop them off in another community. But then that community paid the same guy to bring them back here.
The second method was a mass sterilization of strays a couple of years ago. Apparently they docked the tails of the dogs which were done. One still sees a few of these “curtailed” dogs around town.
Last month, a third method was tried. All shopkeepers in the bazaar were responsible for catching and taking in one stray to the vet for sterilization. The shopkeepers were not happy that they were being forced to do this, so most passed the job on to kids. I don’t know how many dogs were done, but it is bound to help.

By the way, Tashi, a.k.a. Appy, the dog that I befriended when I first arrived, finally got spayed during last month’s blitz. My neighbour took her in. The vet had warned against spaying her months ago, because apparently there is a much greater chance of infection during the monsoon season. Appy got pregnant in the meantime, so the surgery was actually an abortion and sterilization. Poor thing. She looks very sad. But at least she won’t be increasing the puppulation.


  1. Two funny things about your remark about the dogs having appointments and schedules:

    1) In Dawa, the class 9 English novel, the dogs in Mongar, specifically, are described as spending most of their time trying to look as busy and important as impossible. Nice to know the author did her research.

    2) The dogs here definitely do. I haven't seen them, but apparently a whole bunch of the school dogs actually sleep in the market. They come to the school early in the morning, and leave late at night. Apparently if you're on the road at the right times you can see all these dogs "commuting" to and from town.

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