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On Balinese Dog  

by on Saturday, 27 October 2007One Comment | 1,269 views

“The roads are particularly infested with miserable dogs, the scavenger of the island. Most dogs are attached to the house they protect and keep clean the garbage, but they reproduce unchecked and there are thousands homeless living skeletons, covered with ulcers and mange, that bark and wail all night in great choruses. The Balinese are not disturbed by them and sleep perfectly through the hideous noise. The curs are supposed to frighten away witches and evil spirits, but I could never discover how our neighbors knew when it was an ordinary mortal and not the devil that the dog barked at; they always awoke when a stranger came into the house at night. Such dogs were undoubtedly provided by the gods to keep Bali from perfection.”

This passage was taken from Covarrubias’s Bali; it provides an image of Balinese dogs in 1930s. Though this image is no longer relevant for nowadays situation, but some part of the image can still be found in the rural areas of Bali. Back on the village streets the dogs still roam freely, still serve as the scavengers, still bark and wail all night in great choruses but the numbers are greatly reduced from thousands to dozens and only very few of them can be categorized as “homeless living skeletons, covered with ulcers and mange”.

It is true that most Balinese dogs are attached to the house but they do not get the same amount of attention given to their species in western country. Most Balinese think that a dog just a household necessity, functions to guard the house from thief and demon. Most Balinese do not have any special attachment to the dog, it’s just a dog. They may feed the dog but never build a dog-house for their dogs; they may give shelter to them but hardly put any attention to their dog’s health. Balinese just do not pay any attention to their dog and vice versa.

In Balinese culture, dog just an animal; it does not deserve an attention. A clear boundary must be established between what is proper for human and for animal. There is a proved in Bali which runs as follow: “cicing singal” which means literally “carrying a dog in one hip”, and metaphorically “giving excessive attention to the one who does not deserve it”. (In Balinese culture a dog should never be carried in one hip, only a child should be carried that way, dog does not deserve such privilege).

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