The sweet smell of Thai cooking rolled through the restaurant as I sat at the bamboo table looking out to the road. I noticed a skinny, brown, short-haired dog. A dog I’d seen many times before, shooed closer to the busy traffic by the restaurant staff.
I grabbed some chicken from my plate and headed out front. The bikes streamed past as I looked over and caught the sad eyes of this lonely dog looking at me. She was nervous and unsure when I held out my hand to offer a piece of chicken. It was clear she hadn’t eaten for some time. Her ribs protruding from her malnourished body, held up by four matchstick legs, all with cuts and bruises running over them.
She put her judgement aside as hunger got the better of her and edged closer for a bite to eat. Realizing I was a friend, she relaxed and as we sat at the roadside, I asked her a few questions… This was her response.
How did you end up living on the streets of Thailand?
Life wasn’t all treats before the streets, but I was happy! I had a bowl to eat out of and a human to be loyal to. Things were easy. Until I got pregnant with my first litter of pups that is.
As the weeks went by it became obvious I was expecting. Then one day my owner called me as he was leaving. He actioned for me to get onto his bike with him. I was excited, it had been a long time since he had taken me somewhere with him.
I climbed on, sitting between his legs and wondered where we were going?… “Maybe the beach, I loved the beach”. The journey felt long, but I didn’t mind, so many new smells, new sights it was thrilling.
We turned off the main street and started climbing a road up high into the hills. Up and up we went, the road covered overhead by high trees blocking out the sun. Then we turned from one street to another. I was lost, I didn’t recognize anything when suddenly, we came to a stop.
Standing at the top of the road was a huge temple. I looked around and saw several other dogs walking towards us, something didn’t feel right.
My owner pushed his foot towards me as I slipped from his bike. The engine was still running as I turned and looked up at him. He didn’t look back and instead motioned his head the way we had just come from. Then tightening his grip on the handlebars he twisted his wrist and sped away back down the hill.
I froze, staring at the corner of the hill that disappeared around the bend. Waiting, hoping he would return. But he never did.
Where do you find food?
Usually, restaurants would have many scraps leftover that would be given to struggling dogs like me. But since the pandemic hit things have changed. There are now very few restaurants left open, so food donations are few and far between. It’s tough to get anything to eat and competition between the other dogs is worse than ever. You have to be very careful.
Occasionally I would hang around the 7/11, a lot of the farangs, oh that’s Thai for western travellers, would feed us scraps. In the last year, numbers have declined and now most of them are gone now too.
Sometimes you find leftovers in different places, but they can come at a high price. Some humans see us strays as pests and want us gone. They try to trick us and put poison on food, then leave it out for us to eat… It’s like a game of Russian roulette and if it’s infected, well, there’s only one outcome. I’ve lost many friends this way.
How did you cope with being pregnant on the streets?
It was tough… The longest 9 weeks of my life. Carrying puppies made it much more difficult to compete for food, at a time when I needed it more than ever. It became harder to defend myself and get away from threatening situations. There are times when I was beaten with sticks and had every object you can imagine thrown at me. I was worried I would lose them.
The nights were just as hard, there were many times when I was attacked by other dogs and I rarely got any rest. I was relieved when I finally gave birth.
How many puppies did you give birth to?
I had six puppies in total, but two didn’t make it. Guess I was actually quite lucky to have four that lived. When it was time to give birth, I tried to stay away from dangers. I took myself away from humans and other dogs. Found a quiet place in the bush, I thought they’d be safe there, but I was wrong.
I didn’t realise there were monkeys living here, you see, and they must have been watching the pups and me. A couple of days after I had given birth, they took advantage of my weakened state and by working together they swooped in and took one of my babies. I was heartbroken. But I had no time to be emotional. My maternal instincts took over, and it wasn’t easy, but I got the others out of there.
We managed to hold out, in an abandoned hut close by to the beach. I hadn’t eaten in days, and I was struggling to feed my babies.
Where are your puppies now?
Well for the next few weeks I struggled to find enough to eat, enough to keep myself going. Two of the pups were sick and getting worse, disease had taken over them. I thought there was nothing I could do.
It was starting to get dark, and I feared the puppies wouldn’t last another night. I had only one option. As hard as it was to trust them, I had to turn to humans.
Just down a path from the beach and across the road was a hostel. I hoped if I could merely get the puppies there, maybe they would take pity and help save them. One by one I took each of the pups in my mouth and carried them along the path to the roadside.
“Almost there”, I thought. I took the healthiest of the three, looked both ways and hurried over to the other side of the road. I gently laid her on the floor in front of the hostel and rushed back to the others.
“I can do this”, I told myself as I grasped the next one firmly in my mouth. I turned around, checking the road was clear before briskly walking over to the hostel. I sighed relief as I placed her next to her sister.
“Okay, just one more, just one more”, I repeated to myself. I turned around and bounced over the road to retrieve the only male of the litter.
I scooped him up and rushed back into the road to join the other pups when suddenly I was blinded by a bright light in the road. BANG... There was a deafening noise, and I could see nothing but darkness as I spun around and crashed into the dirt. Laying on the floor I opened one eye to see a taxi speeding away. ‘Where’s my puppy?!’ I thought. In pain, I struggled to my feet and sniffed the air to catch his scent. There he was. Lying in the road, helpless… Lifeless. I had failed him.
For the next week, the humans tried helping nurse my baby back to health. But it was too late. She was extremely feeble and had contracted a disease that no one could help with. In only a few weeks and I’d gone from six to just one remaining puppy.
A few days later full moon had approached and the last remaining tourists on the island were getting prepared to party. The farangs loved my puppy, and I kept close eyes on her whilst she was transferred between them being petted and hugged. More and more people piled out of the hostel and I lost sight of her in the sea of bodies as they squeezed their way into a taxi.
I turned around frantically, I could smell her, but where? At that moment I glimpsed her, tucked between the neon painted arms of a Farang, in the back of the taxi. I ran towards the car as it started speeding away. The driver accelerated quickly as I sprinted behind and suddenly my legs buckled underneath me. My head hit the floor, and a cloud of dust covered my eyes as the taxi disappeared into the distance.
It was the last time I saw her.
This is a constant cycle for stray pets, which is why we do our best to rescue and provide them with a new home and a second chance of love. Keep your eyes peeled to find out what happened to this mama and her pup, in our upcoming blog post.
Many puppies don’t last a few weeks living on the streets due to tragic circumstances they can’t avoid. That’s why it’s our mission to vaccinate, de-worm and neuter these abandoned dogs and help stop this cycle. We also strive to find them the loving home that they deserve. If you think you could provide this love and are interested in adopting please take a few minutes to find out who your Pawfect Rescue Match is!