Every time I think of Big Dog, it makes my heart ache.
This was a very BIG dog for Bali, like a mix between a Labrador and a Mastiff. He was a gangly, clumsy, bull-in-a-China shop sort of dog who had not an enemy in the world, as far as he was concerned, even among other dogs, who often tend to be territorial. Sometimes, this or that dog, generally about half or less Big Dog’s size, would run out barking and snapping at him, and he would just glance at them as if they were crazy.
Big Dog had an owner who lived a couple blocks from our house, and he actually did have a name. The name, however – a Balinese word – never did fit on my tongue in such a way that it would stay there, so he became and remained Big Dog to us.
Every day, Big Dog would make two or three circuits of the neighborhood, visiting people along the way, exploring the rice fields, looking for unattended sandals that might want stealing and eating. He would come to our house several times to ask for some food, or simply take a quick nap, and if the gate was closed, he would simply jump over the gate, most often knocking it off its track in the process. We soon learned to just leave the gate open.
He was surely one of the friendliest dogs I have ever encountered. He tended to scare some folks, just because of his size, and because he would gallop up to anyone he saw with the intention of making a new friend.
When we moved away from the Biaung area, I hated to leave Big Dog, but, as I said, he did have an owner who did appear to care for him, in the sense that he was well fed and always returned to his house at nighttime, like a child who had been out playing all day, but knew he was to return home before dark.
Several times, we drove back to the old neighborhood just to see if he was around.
A couple years later, we happened to run in to an old friend who lives in Biaung. We asked, of course, after Big Dog.
Big Dog, she told us, had been found dead in the road outside her house. It appeared that he had been beaten to death with some sort of club. His skull had been crushed.
I have no doubt in my mind that Big Dog had happily walked right up to his assailant, thinking that he had found a new friend. What had he done to deserve this violent death? Who knows. I cannot imagine him offending anyone, except for some sick person who was already offended by dogs.
And so, you see, it hurts to even think about it.
RIP, Big Dog. We love you.