I place Jakey and White Dog together in this first post on dogs I have known because that’s the way they were, almost always side by side. They ate together, slept together, roamed together, almost like husband and wife, although White Dog would have nothing to do with Jakey along “romantic” lines. Perhaps, in her mind, Jakey was more like a brother, although this was not always Jakey’s take on the relationship and he would have to be sharply reminded of his place with a warning growl or snap of the teeth.
Jakey actually had a secure owner, and a loving owner at that, and so was more domesticated than most dogs in Bali. He had originally belonged to a French woman who lived in our housing complex, but when she left Bali, she gave Jakey to the elder son of the complex owners, who grew to love Jakey dearly. He would often take Jakey, as a passenger on his motorbike, to the beach for a swim, and Jakey so loved these excursions that he would hop on to anyone’s motorbike, including mine, in the conviction that he was about to go to the beach. It could often be difficult to convince him otherwise and that he must “dismount”. Everyone was about to go to the beach, Jakey thought–and why not? What better amusement could people possibly want?
White Dog was another matter. No one in the complex knew where she had come from. She just showed up one day and decided that this was where she would live. The opinion of the people living there was irrelevant. She simply planted herself in its environs and set up camp. No one knew her name, if she had ever had one. Nor did they bother to give her a name. She was just there. My wife and I began to refer to her as “that white dog”, which, by and by got shortened to White Dog, and soon she was known throughout the complex as White Dog.
White Dog sort of surveyed the situation and its opportunities over time and ultimately decided that she belonged not only in the complex at large, but more specifically in our house. She ate at our house, she slept in our house, and if locked out, as might occasionally happen were we go spend the night somewhere else, she would cry and throw herself against the door and tear at the wood with her front paws until someone showed up to comfort her and offer an alternate place to stay.
White Dog was moody, a little bit cranky. Unlike Jakey, she was not particularly friendly with strangers (whether human or canine). No doubt she had learned the value of caution in whatever travels she had experienced on the road before landing in our complex. This is common for dogs here in Bali who are only loosely associated with a home base or a particular pack. They learn that prudence is the best form of self-preservation.
The day came, some months after her occupation of the complex, when White Dog found herself “in the family way”. Immediately, she decided that our house would be the best place for a litter of puppies. In response to her decision, we did everything we could think of to dissuade her. One dog is a welcome guest. A herd of dogs would be a disaster. Every time White Dog entered the house, she would search for what seemed a convenient spot for birthing–under our son’s bed, for instance, in the closet, in the bathroom. Again an again we shooed her outside, explaining that she must follow the conventions of a normal Bali dog. Again and again she reentered, began preparations. At last, one evening, after a short walk to the market, we found her in one of the kitchen floor cupboards, feeding six new puppies at her teats. In short, and as usual, she had gotten her way.
Ah well. As often happens with events that seem unwanted, we soon accepted the reality, and actually enjoyed raising the little brood of pups. Each was given a name, and fed, and followed around with newspapers and napkins.
And it became White Dog’s conviction, conveniently enough for her, that these were not her children, but ours. She would feed them, of course, when given no choice, but then would soon pursue her own interests and activities, which was pretty much in keeping with her cranky, “me first” character. She found other abodes in which to pass the night, lest she be inflicted too often with these noisome little critters who had, as she believed, nothing to do with her. Not my business, not my problem, she was often heard to mutter.
I don’t know what ultimately became of Jakey. After we moved to faraway Biaung, we would sometimes visit the old complex upon passing through Sanur, and Jakey would run out to climb up on the floor of the motorbike. And then, perhaps two years on, he was simply no longer.
As for White Dog? Well, White Dog had a certain sort of hobby that won her fewer and fewer friends over time. She liked the chase motorbikes. I don’t think she ever intended to bite anyone. She was just maintaining the peace and quiet in her environment. But many people did not appreciate her pursuit. One morning, the complex owner later told me, White Dog had been found dead. She had been poisoned. The left over evidence was still at her side. And it was his guess that an irritated biker and done the deed.
Such has been the common fate of the dogs I have known. Death by accident. Death by intention. Sudden disappearance. Jakey and White Dog had provided an introduction to the life of dogs in Bali–joyful, free, difficult, sad. I treasure each relationship, knowing that it could end just as suddenly as it began–something which may well be life’s most useful lesson for relationships in general.