Food for the dogs

Food for the dogs

Words and photographs by  Mirjam de Ruiter

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Photograph by Mirjam De Ruiter

To the untrained ear it sounds like any other scooter horn. But to the savvy street dogs in the Balinese village of Pejeng, this sound indicates the arrival of something particularly special. On hearing the horn, dogs of all colours, shapes and sizes emerge from all directions and charge, full steam, toward the man riding the scooter. The rider, unfazed by the stampede, dismounts from his scooter and distributes food on newspaper plates. They watch, with tongues extended and their tails wagging as portions of food are divided and served up. It’s breakfast, and probably their only meal of the day.

The dogs receive a canine variation of Nasi Goreng: steamed rice mixed with egg, chicken, vegetables, potatoes, “kalau” (the fat from the chicken) mixed-in with some dry dog food supplied by supporters.

Adi, 38 and originally from Flores, is the rider who feeds these dogs. He is an employee of BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association), a non-profit organisation that helps to improve the lives of Bali street dogs, and other animals, on the island. The organisation’s mission is to relieve suffering, control the population and improve the health of Bali’s street dogs while educating the local population about animal welfare.

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Photograph by Mirjam De Ruiter

Every day for the past 10 years he has collected freshly prepared dog food cooked by staff, which is approved by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and distributed it to dogs in the area. After strapping a large plastic container of food onto the back of his scooter, he hits the road, making about 15 stops and feeding over 150 dogs a day.

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Photograph by Mirjam De Ruiter

As well as satisfying empty tummies, Adi uses the opportunity to pet the dogs something many of us are too frightened to do. He gives them the love and care that they miss out on.  He also distributes medication for dogs with treatable conditions: the dogs are so busy eating they often don’t notice the medicines being added to their food.

Once the assembled dogs are fed, it’s a race against the clock. The trick is to stay long enough to feed a manageable sized group, Adi says. Any delay and he can end up with a crowd that’s too big to handle so it’s time to get back on the road again. News travels fast in the world of hungry dogs. And too many in one place fighting over a finite stash of food can result in a dogfight, quite literally.

Get Involved by donating and volunteering

Animal charities rely heavily on support from the community and BAWA is always looking for donations of rice, eggs or dry dog food.

To report any animals you see on the road that are in distress call or text BAWA’s 24 hour hotline on 0811389004. You can donate at BAWA’s shops (there are two in Ubud and one in Sanur) or online by visiting www.bawabali.com/donate

These two other island organisations can also use a hand.

Bali Stree Dogs: www.balistreetdogs.org.au

Bali Dog Refuge: www.balidogrefuge.com

Check out the documentary: Bali; Island of The Dogs

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