|This is me, Phuntsho.|
|This is how my relative looks in the dog pound.|
When it comes to explicit expression of my thoughts, I look little disoriented because I am a dog from rural Bhutan. I am also little uncomfortable introducing myself in this public forum, because I have a very bad phobia of facing the crowd or being read by public. With this, there are imminent possibilities that I might miss some lines in between. So I humbly beg your pardon for all the wrongs I might say in due course of time.
Well, to begin with, my name is Phuntsho and I am form Bumthang, Ura, Shingkhar. Stressing my male status, people often call me Phuntsho La. I don’t know which scientific and biological breed I belong to, but the very fact that I dwell in the mountains of Shingkhar; along with the yaks, people have the tendency of referring to me as bjob-khee; roughly meaning, a dog form a highland.
Having lived in the luxury and comfort of this beautiful land for so many years, I feel the dogs and people in Shingkhar share a very symbiotic relationship. This relationship among the dogs and humans are the most unique in our animal kingdom. Therefore it deserves a second closer look. The historical references today show that humans and dogs shared a bond based on trust and mutual benefit. Humans feed the dogs and dogs in return protected people from intruders,-both animals and humans. The dogs not also acts like an alarm to alert people from the approaching dangers but was also once revered to for possessing a prophetic instinct of foreseeing future events.
As a dog, the traits like ferocity and aggressiveness are something people most often sought after. As a result, our dogliness are sometime gauged on the basis of fear and terror our presence created. There was once a saying that ‘even after its death, the presence of a good dog will be felt for three long years, where as a presence of a good human, after his death will only be felt for only three short nights’. Such was the importance and privilege dogs enjoyed in human society.
Today things have changed both in dog world and human world. Except for few tiny upsoos and ludicrous looking dogs, the regard and respect we as a species have for each other seem to have fallen to the lowest unimaginable grade in the history of this civilization. Some say this is to be credited for a force called development and progress, while there are also others who say, it is because of the ever compounding human greed human anxiety.
Unlike my relatives who dwell in the streets of urban towns, I am a very happily fed dog, because I have a very loving and caring owner. Having lived in the pristine mountains in the company of rich milking yaks, I did not have to face the harsh realities of this dog world like them. For I was least affected, the news of famine, malnourished, mange and poverty that claimed the lives of my relatives on daily basis did little to bother me.
Of late, my loving owner has fallen sick. I believe his disease is more of a natural one that comes along with old age. His weak body withered by the hardship and privation of his life and age looks shrunken and wilted. Therefore, even though his recovery is a promising possibility, his return to the mountains with us remains a very grim prospect.
Today I am a very busy dog. I have virtually become a migratory dog on daily basis. I spend my days travelling between the mountains and my owner’s residence. I do this because I have my tradition to preserve as the proud Bjob-Khee in the mountain with yaks. And in similar manner I frequent my owner’s residence to meet my ailing owner, who treated me at par with his own kids. It’s through this movement I get myself more exposed to both human world and dog world.
Development has not only brought progress to the human world but has also created a wide gap between us. With ever widening gap, it’s a sad reality that we, the dogs are considered worthless animals known only for howling and other nuisances. Human world tend to forget that howling is our birth right and that it was once our way of reciprocating the love and care of our ancestral owners bestowed us.
Human world at the dizzy height of its advancement and development, they look all the more confusing. Once a fun loving human have today become slave to their desires and dreams. Their lives have become so scheduled that they have no time even for their loved ones. When they have no time for their aged parents and toddling young ones, how can they find time for dogs like us?
I was told that my relatives somewhere in the west have failed to use family planning and therefore resulted in a population explosion. Humans thought this was unacceptable and hence resorted to down seizing the population. Apart from the sterilization process, few heartless humans have also resorted to inhuman slaughtering of my fellow being by way of mass poisoning. They have also dumped many of my fellow beings alive in freezing water with all the limbs and legs tied with ropes.
Apart from being accused for our careless reproduction ways, we are also blamed for bringing in fleas and scabies in summer. It is believed in the human world that seasonal ailments like scabies have today become a life threatening. By virtue of being a dog, I know we are species susceptible to skin diseases like mange. And I will not be surprised if the mange in dog world is caused by climate change, for which Homo sapiens –humans- themselves are to be blamed.
Today, we are even hated more for being responsible in the spread of deadly disease called rabies. Researches in the human world have found out that we are very dangerous animals. They think and believe they have all the data to prove their claims. But these days, I am very skeptical about the human way of doing research, because some humans think a mere flipping of pages, occasional Googeling and reading is a research for them. I am very afraid because humans will soon consider reading news papers on weekends as research!
I thought every dog born in Bhutan are the luckiest and most fortunate dog on this planet. I also thought that it is due to the positive karmic merits that we were all born in the country that stresses more on happiness than on material wealth. But recently with the ever growing and expanding of tourism industry in the country, our luck and fortune seem to have run out fast. Those tourists have extensively complained about our tradition of howling and barking in the nights. To the amazement of dog world, few locals have even started believing in the foreign idea of quite night. Isn’t this idea very strange? To be very honest, humans have themselves become more nocturnal than us!
What those nagging tourist and few locals do not understand is that, in Bhutan we have very less noise pollution compared to their metro and sonorous homes. The noise in the air by our lone national carrier, the Drukair and the noise from our small and compact traffic are so minimal that people often mistake the most urban city like Thimphu to a small monastery and a village. In this light, their protest is nothing but a human exaggeration of the societal norm.
Sadly, in response to all the rumbling complaints, humans have today chosen to build a prison for us in the name of dog pound. Humans call it a home for needy dogs and some even say its good place for dogs to be. But for a dog world, it’s the most dreaded place on earth. It’s a jail where dogs are imprisoned for life. It’s the price every dog will pay for disturbing the otherwise snoring humans, because barking and howling have now become a criminal offence and as per human definition, it’s treated at par with a felony of first degree.
To add fuel on already burning fire, not realizing their own problem under their own nose, there are also some humans who think dogs have become uncontrollable. They have even gone to an extent of teaching authorities, the ways to affectively deal with dog problems. It’s very alarming to know that they want our species wiped off completely. They are planning genocide against the dog world. God save the dogs!
Amidst all this chilling news, I can see a glimmer of hope in a distant horizon. I heard that few humans have now formed an association to protect destitute animals like us. I also heard that the association is being chaired and supported by none other than a god like lama and other humans too. I hope and pray that this association prevails for eternity like our species.
For now, I have to heed back to mountains of Shingkhar, because I have a business there. I will be there so long as the metabolism in my body fights the freezing temperatures caused by cold and dry winds. When I am old, I hope to resign like my predecessors, late Woogpala, late Domchung and late Lingkala. I wish to live a very peaceful retired life with my owner circumbulating Shingkhar lhakhang. I will wish and pray the entire humans and dogs, a very harmonious coexistence for the countless centuries to come.