Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hunden

I suppose you know that the Thai people aren’t, or at least weren’t back in 1988, fond of dogs, especially the fairly common Thai type dog that roams the neighbourhood. Not all that dissimilar for dingoes in the way they look but they’re generally darker in colour.

A friend and I ended up in Thailand for 5 weeks on the way back from backpacking in Australia. We spent about 4 weeks on the island of Koh Samui living in a bungalow village. Our bungalow happened to be right on the beach and had the ONLY sit down toilet in the village. Major bonus. We’d fall out of the bungalow in the mornings onto the beach and have our own “personal” masseuses turn up, two older twin ladies, and give us a full body massage in the warm sun for the princely sum of 5 baht. Good times!

We used to sit and watch the local sport of dog kicking from our bungalow veranda. Any dog coming close enough was apparently fair game and had to be booted. Loving dogs like we did, we thought it a bit odd but things are as they are and there must be a reason for it we guessed.

One night we came home to find a very sorry sight in the sand outside our bungalow; a dog with high fever lying in the sand shaking and basically dying. We rolled the dog onto a towel and carried it up onto the bungalow veranda and placed it in a wooden chair on a pillow.

I spent an hour carefully cleaning up a bite wound on its head. It had been in a fight and the skin had been punched by a canine tooth and closed up which kept the infection in nicely. It was incredibly sore and the whole head was hot and inflamed. The glands were swollen so it really didn’t have much of a chance of survival.

We soaked a towel so we could get water in its mouth and we sat with it all through the night making sure we kept the fever down as much as we could. We figured it would most likely die that night but if it was going to die it wasn’t going to have to do it alone and we would make it as comfortable as we possibly could. Morning came and not only was it still alive, the fever was down.

The bungalow village owners were not happy to see us 1. Saving a fucking dog (I suppose they’d been more pleased if they’d found us playing soccer with it on the beach) and 2. keeping it on our veranda but there was little they could do about it. It took a good three days of nursing before it actually got up to go finally go pee and on the fourth day we got it to eat.

We called it “Hunden” (“the dog” in Swedish) and it stuck around on our veranda and kept watch. We figured it was a good thing because we’d already had the bungalow robbed plus it was nice to have a pet. We’d go for walks on the beach at sunset (I have photos of it somewhere) and play in the waves. We’d share food and have someone greet us when we came home from the bar at night.

The real value of having Hunden around became apparent a few weeks after we found him. We came back one night after drinkies, Hunden greeting us and off we went inside. Hunden never ever crossed the invisible force field that was the open doorway. I started rummaging around in my backpack, it was basically functioning as my wardrobe, and suddenly found myself with a handful of hairy. It turned out to be the biggest bloody rat I’ve ever seen. I swear that in my memory it was the size of an elephant but in reality it was probably more the size of a small Chihuahua. It wasn’t going to move, that much was clear but that was when I heard a tiny bark from the doorway. Hunden was standing there ready to come to the rescue just waiting for the force field to be taken down so he could cross into our inner bungalow reality. And, boy did he get to work once he got inside.

The rat lived with in the delusion that it was in charge for about half a second and was then unceremoniously chased around the bungalow until it ran up the wall where it sat up at the top of wall at the ceiling looking a little triumphant but out of breath. It was then that Hunden launched itself straight up in the air, up along the wall, his teeth snapping short of the very surprised rat. The rat wiggled off under the roof and was last seen sprinting down the moonlit beach at was must have been rat record speed.

Hunden calmly, after his super hero deed, simply looked up at us, wagged his tail and went back to his chair on the veranda to snooze. I can tell you though that he looked mighty pleased at having been of assistance that night. In fact I think he may have been waiting for the opportunity to show his gratitude in some useful way.

Hunden stayed with us until we left Koh Samui. It was almost as though he knew time was coming before we start packing and he said his goodbyes. The day we left he sat there and watched us leave on the bus. He didn’t look sad. He looked like he was parting with good friends and that he was extremely happy to have been part of our tribe if only for a short time of his life. It was a kind or remarkable feeling because I remember thinking that he seemed grateful to have had the experience; it just really stuck with me as one of the things that stood out the most of what was a 7 month trip.

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