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Since I was a kid I remember having a strong affinity to cats and dogs. And every time I saw one I wanted to pet and play with it and take one home. But my mom had a strict no cats and dog policy. And taking care of my brother and me was already a lot of work. But it was mainly because she was concerned that having a dog or a cat living and sharing space with us in an apartment is unsanitary. There is truth to that. However, it’s hard to shake off the feeling of having a fuzzy companion to keep company.
As I grew older I guess I could’ve picked up a cat or dog but by that time I was busy with work and making a living. And since I am not locked in one place because of traveling so frequently – having a pet was simply not an option.
Traveling back and forth to Thailand so many years I’ve come across a lot of ‘soi’ dogs however. A soi is basically the word for side street in Thai. Sois typically branch off from main roads and some are just small lanes and others are wide enough for 2 cars to pass by. Soi dogs can be strays or they are taken care of by shop owners or kind folks who live in the neighborhoods along the sois. Though they are not house pets or guard dogs you can still see one and the other live together on a mutual basis.
Kindhearted locals may provide scraps of food or whatever else is available but that’s it. Soi dogs inevitably sleep outside in empty lots, on the side of the streets and many times right in the middle of the street without any care in the world. So that’s all the care soi dogs receive. If a soi dog is sick a vet is never called so those poor pooches are left on their own.
Most soi dogs I’ve encountered are around the area I live in. And I’ve made friends with quite a few and many are happy and can remember those who treat them well. The soi dog below is named Daeng by the folks working at a local Tops supermarket.
He looks as healthy as can be and people give him food once in awhile. When you do you can tell he’s a grateful fellow. It’s hard to fight the urge to take these fellas to my home but I simply don’t have the time to take care of one. I thought about taking Daeng to my wife’s parent’s place but I’m not sure how he would fair against aggressive dogs in the neighborhood. Daeng has been living alone at the parking section of the supermarket since the flood a few years ago.
Whenever I visit my wife’s parent’s area I come across a lot of soi dogs too. Many are in bad shape. Since a vast majority of these dogs live off on there own they are very territorial. And they do form packs which means their are lots of fights occurring between the packs. Plus there are locals that treat these dogs as a serious nuisance. Much of these dogs are subjected to beatings, poisonings and I’ve even seen locals use slingshots on them.
And many farms use all types of traps from electric fences to booby traps to kill rats but many dogs wander into such traps and come out with serious injuries if they survive at all.
I’ve once seen a dog limping with 3 paws with the 4th paw dangling loosely. Though I am not sure what had happened specifically I do know that car owners who have soi dogs sleeping under the cars don’t even take the time to shoo away the dogs. They just get in, start the car and drive off without giving the chance for the poor pooches to get out of harms way.
There are many dog lovers in Thailand. But there are equally as many heartless people who don’t care whether they do harm or not. Buddy, pictured above lives in a condo complex and you can always find her there just sitting by the entrance. She’s taken care of by the residents who bring food down to her which is why she looks so healthy.
There are many dogs living on sois that taken care of so well even when it’s a detriment to their own health. I’ve seen dogs so obese that they are unable to walk so they just lay near where their caretakers feed them.
Now I don’t advise anyone to simply go up to any stray dogs in Thailand and try to make friends. Because many are aggressive and overly territorial even though your intentions are good. After living in Thailand for awhile you learn to read to read the dog’s body language. Not all strays are approachable. Sometimes it takes a face that is already familiar to an aggressive dog in order to be formerly introduced to avoid an attack by a pack of dogs.
I was once chased by 3 dogs because I got too close to their territory. And this was right in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok which is practically in central Bangkok. So please be careful when you come across a stray and give it some space. Getting chased and almost mauled by 3 hungry dogs is an experience I never want to repeat ever again.
There are many local Thai people who love dogs. However, they mostly fawn over pure breed dogs found in pet stores. A vast majority of soi dogs are mixed breeds which don’t get the same exact treatment. Mixed breed dogs are just as friendly and lovable.
Be-Boh is a mixed breed and he lives right in my sister in laws orchid farm as a guard dog. Ever so often he’ll swing by my mother in law’s restaurant to try and score some free food. And that’s where I met him.
Every time when someone is eating he would sit and watch. Almost begging for scraps with every blink of his eyes. I couldn’t refuse so I’d pretty much toss whatever I had on my plate his way. Since then he always sits where ever I sit by the table. It’s funny too that every time he’s in the restaurant next to me the sister in laws would say he’s stinking up the restaurant. Since soi dogs live out in the elements they will sleep among trash and soak themselves in sitting water when the sun gets too hot. But that never bothered me at all.
Now whenever I eat he places his head right on my lap. Talk about mastering the art of begging!
Whenever I take walks around the orchid and rice farms he would follow. I look at Be-Boh not only as a companion but a protector. He would scare off the other dogs or if there are other dogs in his pack they would know I’m a friend. But he’s also useful because whenever I see him not following me it means that I shouldn’t be passing through a certain area. For example if I’m about to stroll through an orchid field and I see him stop suddenly, it means that the area has been sprayed with pesticide recently.
So every time I go visit the in laws I always buy a bunch of doggie snacks which he enjoys so much as a reward for being such a loyal friend.
Since Be-Boh and many other soi dogs live out in the elements they are much more vulnerable to diseases. Many can die from infections caused by bites and scratches inflicted by other packs. And many times as mentioned before, there are sick people out there who do harm to dogs because they are seen as pests. Either way it hurts when you see a dog in need of medical and tender loving care.
Seeing so many dogs in such poor condition really tugs at the heart strings. Because soi dogs have wonderful potential to be friendly companions. There are a few animal care organizations all over Thailand. But the country is vast and the manpower is limited so their resources can’t reach every corner in the country with a huge soi dog population.
I started this blog to share my stories and experiences on traveling around Asia. Now I know I can use it to do some good too, instead of me putting up pictures of stuff I’ve eaten, cakes I’ve baked, places I’ve visited and other nonsense I’m involved in.
Blogging is also a great platform to raise awareness and to seek donations from those who wish to help out a little.
So every time someone books a hotel on Agoda.com or buys something from Amazon.com on this blog I earn a commission. I will donate 100% of the commission to taking care of soi dogs. When enough money is raised I will hire a licensed veterinarian and have them come out and give the dogs a checkup.
Commissions from Agoda.com and Amazon.com as well as donations received will go towards:
- Providing veterinary medical care for dogs (neuter, spay, injuries, vaccinations etc.)
- Dog food and treats
Veterinary care in Thailand is expensive and it’s even more expensive to get one to come all the way out to Nakhon Pathom. Most of the best vets are located around Bangkok, which is an hour away. Remember while booking a hotel on Agoda.com or buying anything on this blog through Amazon.com you are not paying extra money at all. So you’re getting the same low prices and customer services both companies are well known for.
Make a Direct Donation Via PayPal and Receive a Wayfaring Soul T-Shirt
You may also make a contribution through PayPal easily. Donate $100USD and I’ll send you a Wayfaring Soul t-shirt. Just let me know what shirt size and the address and once I see a record of the donation I’ll ship out the t-shirt in a few business days.
The t-shirt will be shipped out from the United States so shipping time depends on your location. But I will ship it out the quickest method with tracking through United States Postal Service. You can find the donation button right below the post a comment section on this blog.
Whichever way you decide to support in anyway I know that many lovable soi dogs will be forever grateful! And so will I.