Hero, Kazim, Evie, Flecky and
Poochi – the tale of 5 dogs
You don’t have to be around Chiang Mai for long before you notice
the dogs. Many dogs are in good health and live happily with families or by
the roadside with someone looking out for them. Unfortunately, there are
many more which are neglected or even abused. Some develop diseases and are
not taken for treatment but left to suffer, covered in horrible sores.
Others are involved in accidents and are left suffering with their wounds
and disabilities. But there is help available.
Care for Dogs was set up by dog lovers, Karin Hawelka from Germany, and
Amandine Lescesne from France nearly three years ago. Due to the many rescue
cases the shelter has currently one hundred and twenty puppies and dogs
living there. The care that the dogs get is excellent, with volunteers
working alongside permanent staff. Last year, I reported about Hero and the
loving care he received at the shelter. Unfortunately, he has since died but
his friend Kazim has survived to become a strong healthy dog, despite being
I can’t visit the shelter without being moved to tears by the various cases
there. Recently, I met two Shih Tzus, new arrivals suffering from mange so
badly they were barely recognizable as dogs. After two weeks, they were
looking much better with their fur beginning to grow back. Another newcomer,
Hoy, has the same disease that Hero and Kazim had, a sexually transmitted
disease called Transferable Venereal Tumour (TVT) disease. The poor dog has
lost his eyes to the tumours as well as having broken sores all over his
body. Every dog at the shelter has a heart wrenching story.
But there is good news for dog-lovers. There are many very healthy dogs at
the shelter, all in need of adoption. Recently, two families were blessed
with the addition of a dog from Care for Dogs. On Valentine’s Day last year,
a New Zealand family had rescued a puppy themselves. They had found her in a
pile of rubbish while out walking. They named her Evie, and at seven months
old, she had grown into a lovely dog. Unfortunately, Evie was poisoned, much
to the distress of the family. After her burial, they missed having a dog so
much that they went to Care for Dogs and adopted Terry, a dog that had been
abandoned at a temple. She has proved to be a great addition to their family
life and they are all very happy together.
Another New Zealand couple moved to Chiang Mai a year ago, and inherited
Flecky along with the house they had rented. She was a healthy Scottish
Terrier, but recently and inexplicably died. They, too, went to Care for
Dogs and adopted another dog to replace Flecky in the family home – a sweet
little English terrier whom they named Pokey. She seems to have lived up to
her name with several successful escapes made before they could block up all
the spaces in the fence. Now she is a little fatter, and can’t squeeze
through tight spots any more!
Recently I was forced to take Poochi to Care for Dogs. He is now eighteen
months old, having started his life in the construction worker’s slum at the
end of our soi. He was sometimes a victim to violence, being slashed by a
knife in two places on one occasion. As he grew beyond puppyhood, he was
neglected by the community where he began life. Sometimes he suffered an
infection in his right foot as a result of a little deformity in his paw
pad. I regularly cleaned his paw and kept him running on all fours.
Unfortunately, many of our neighbours did not like Poochi and he was
becoming very territorial. Our landlord ordered that either we leave or
Poochi leave after Poochi tried to play with his dog and bit his wife when
she attempted to push him away. Sadly I took Poochi to Care for Dogs as I
didn’t want him to be a victim of poisoning or shooting. Later, I found that
people in the street had been throwing things at Poochi when I was out. I
wasn’t really surprised, although I was very hurt, the mystery of his
growing aggression was explained. He is a lively dog and wants to play with
everyone, sometimes nipping to get a person’s attention. He is not an
aggressive dog by nature, even though in his short life he has experienced
some nasty treatment at the hands of humans. He has adapted very well to
life at the shelter and loves to be petted. I do so hope he can become part
of a loving family.
So, make a trip to Care for Dogs before you go to a pet shop and buy a dog.
There are so many beautiful dogs waiting to be given a loving home. Recently
twenty puppies, found abandoned under a bridge, were brought into the
shelter. They all need a home to go to. Care for Dogs is organising an
adoption fair some time next month, so look out for it, or visit the dogs
available for adoption at the shelter, there’s sure to be a little dog there
which is right for your family.
‘What goes up must come down’ - and back up again
Reading various online Western media sites, it did not surprise
me that many are now featuring advice to their readers on how to
preserve an enjoyable lifestyle on rather a lot less income! A very good
idea, considering that it seems the world economic crisis may get a lot
worse before it begins to get better. Many readers of this newspaper
will be in similar straitened circumstances—whether it is a result of a
severe drop in pension payments because of exchange rate falls, an
interest rate drop to nearly zero on funds invested, or the failure of
an actual investment package. However much our monthly budget was last
year, many will now be managing on at least a third less. Not good news,
as, over the last year, there has been a noticeable increase in the
price of necessities in Chiang Mai, with reports of expats under the
retirement age in their countries of origin deciding to return home and
work for a few more years in order to beef up their savings!
So, how do those of us for whom returning home is not an option, deal
with this ongoing situation and still enjoy living in our adopted city?
Like all lifestyle decisions, the solution will depend on our
expectations, in as much as, should we wish to maintain a Western
lifestyle, we may well have problems. But, hey, we’re living in
Thailand, and all of us have that absolute necessity, a roof over our
heads! Plus no heating bills…just think how much the worst Western
winter in nearly 50 years would have cost us. It’s not all bad news.
It may help to consider what constitutes a ‘lifestyle’ in Chiang Mai.
Most of us like to travel, either around Thailand and its immediate
neighbours, or further afield in the hot season, and don’t have to be
told to search out the cheapest air fares, which, at present, are
dropping further due to lack of passengers and falling oil prices. There
are, though, also many very interesting, beautiful and ‘un-touristy’
locations within easy and cheap travelling distance from the city
itself, which may have been overlooked in the rush to ‘go abroad’ or ‘go
to the beach’.
Entertainment is another component of lifestyle—and can be pricey if one
limits oneself to the larger events and venues. There are, however, many
free concerts featuring very talented local and foreign performers –
Payap University is only one example, hosting a large number of free
events if a surprisingly high standard, usually at their Saisuree
Chutikul Music Hall, an acoustically good venue—as a change, there is
their ‘Jazz in the Park’ series, which continues until the end of
February. Various restaurants host regular evenings with lectures,
musical events, even dancing, with a delicious meal included—last week,
Café Pandau organised a fascinating illustrated talk on Buddhist images
at a cost to guests of 450 baht, which included a formidable amount of
delicious home-cooked organic food served in a beautiful garden setting,
with a proportion of the takings going to a local charity. There are
events of this type all over the city, and most benefit local charities
in some way as well as providing an enjoyable evening.
Clothes, perhaps, are not quite such a problem, (unless, of course, one
is addicted to designer logos—the genuine versions, not the
‘knock-offs’, in which case you won’t even be reading this article…), as
there are many outlets around town selling good quality daywear at
prices reduced these days from a level considered very reasonable last
year. Shoes, of course, are even less of a problem.
Perhaps the most expensive item in the monthly budget is food. We all
enjoy going out to eat, whether we prefer Western, Thai, ‘fusion’ food
or the likes of McDonalds! But, is it really necessary, on a suddenly
sparse budget, to regularly spend 1,000 baht or more on an evening meal,
even if it is at a luxurious 5 star hotel—unless, of course, you really
are able to afford it? Driving around the city in the early evening, it
would seem that almost every Thai resident is eating out—in local cafes,
reasonably priced restaurants, or even just standing at the food stalls,
laughing and talking with friends. Isn’t that what eating out is all
about—not ‘being seen’ at certain places? Thais, it should be noted, are
not well paid—it seems that the average teacher at a government school,
for example, receives around 10,000 baht per month—yet they still manage
to eat out and enjoy the experience.
There are at least two ‘Dining Out’ groups here who manage to regularly
find good restaurants who charge reasonable prices for tasty food—even
if it isn’t served on the Thai equivalent of ‘golden platters’ with a
band playing gently in the background and a swimming pool or the Ping
River at one’s feet! One is a well-known evening group, whose leader is
a true and very knowledgeable ‘foodie’; the other –sorry, guys—is the
Ladies’ Lunch Group, who have just enjoyed an excellent meal with
excellent service at the West Restaurant. Both groups prove regularly
that it can be done, and occasionally move a little
upmarket—occasionally is fine, but, in these tough times, may need a
little financial planning! This writer does not eat out often, but knows
of a good few reasonably priced, unpretentious but attractive and
welcoming places which give good value and delicious food in an
attractive setting for under 500 baht—or well under, in some cases.
Readers could help on this—if you know of a good and reasonably priced
restaurant, we’d be very happy to receive your review and pass it on in
print to the community at large. It might also help, in these days of
decreased tourism, to keep some of the smaller and deserving venues not
backed by international chains to stay afloat until happier times! And,
if anyone has any personal tips on managing diminished resources, we’d
be overjoyed to hear about these as well.
So, lifestyle may be what you make it, and not what is expected of you.
Chiang Mai is still a great place to live, even if you have to do your
own housework and tend your own garden for a while! Hopefully, this
pause in the world economy is just a pause, not a ‘screech to a
halt’—the much-quoted saying, ‘What goes up must come down’, forgets to
mention that logic dictates ‘up’ as the inevitable consequence!