So I have officially made three new friends in Pai. One is black, one is golden, and the other is white with dark spots. They are very skinny, but quick to wag their tails.
I took to feeding them about three nights ago, strictly by accident. I had stopped at 7-11 to make change, and to do so, I bought a piece of marble cake and a sweetened milk. I stuffed them in my purse and forgot all about them. Later that evening, as I crossed the river to come back to my bungalow, a small dog met me at the foot of the bridge, keeping a cautious distance, but wiggling his bum eagerly nonetheless. I could tell he wanted to be friends. I crouched down and made some coaxing sounds and he wiggled right over to me. I let him nuzzle my hands, and then I gave him lots of nice, long pets. I could feel his bones through his coat of fur, though. His whole spine was sticking up, and his ribs were poking out. The two bones above his haunches jutted out miserably. I kept petting him and making little commiserating sounds, when suddenly I remembered the bag in my purse.
“So that’s what I bought this for!” I said out loud. I stood up and walked towards the river, clucking to the dog to follow me. I walked out onto one of the small, bamboo platforms that sit on the river’s edge, and pulled my purse open, taking out the treats. I set the purse down on the table, and opened the package with the marble cake. By now the little dog was wiggling his hind end back and forth in excitement. His head was held high, and his nose was twitching in the air. I got the package open, and set it down in front of him, stepping quickly back so as not to be in his way. Despite his sweetness, I know how territorial animals can get with their food, so I didn’t want to endanger our new-found friendship.
He gobbled the marble cake down so quickly I hardly knew what had happened. Then he looked back up at me expectantly. I pulled the sweetened milk out and set it on the table. Then I picked up the plastic carton the marble cake had come in and filled it up with milk. I set this down carefully in front of the dog, and stepped away. He licked it up in moments, circling it from different angles to get every drop. When he was finished, there was still half a bottle left, so I leaned over and filled the carton up again. He licked it up eagerly, leaving not a single drop.
The next day, I thought of him when I was passing 7-11. I popped in to buy more treats. This time I found some delicious “Shredded Pork and Bologna” sandwiches on white bread, pre-wrapped and ready to go. Looking deeper into the stack, I also discovered a lovely “Pizza Bologna” variety, and a “Ham and Cheese” version. Yum, yum. So I bought four and walked home.
When I arrived on this side of the river, I was looking for the golden dog, but he was nowhere to be found. Instead, two other dogs trotted up to me, their coats a different color, but their skinny bodies much the same. They were wagging their tails and sniffing at my bag. They seemed to know I was a bearer of treats. I scoured the yard and gardens for the golden dog, but he was nowhere to be found, so I walked these dogs down to the river, repeated the previous day’s routine, and fed them each two sandwiches. They devoured them as quickly as the golden dog had devoured the cake and milk the night before, and looked up to me with big eyes, their tails still wagging. I had no more treats to give them, but I gave them lots of pets, and we became good friends.
I’ve been in town twice today, and both times made a 7-11 stop. It’s become a ritual. I love sorting through the bleached, preserved, pre-packaged treats they sell and deciding what the dogs will like. Although I’ve considered buying them hotdogs, I have stuck with the pre-packaged sandwiches so far, as they are cleaner, and seem to be doing the job just fine. This morning when I returned, I only found one dog, and he was the lucky recipient of all three sandwiches. This evening when I returned, my mind was still full of images of the sun setting on the river, and I was humming quietly to myself as I approached my bungalow. I had forgotten all about the dogs.
I had just begun to walk up the steps when a movement caught my eye. I looked down to my left and saw two sitting right at my feet, looking up at me, their tails wagging. I looked to my right and saw a third dog, waiting obediently at the bottom of the steps, his body tensed and wiggling. It was all three, and they were hungry. I pulled out the 7-11 bag with relish and led them down to the river. I had bought three “Pizza Bologna” sandwiches, and I made sure that all three were peeled and out of their packages before I set them down in front of each dog. They ate them hungrily and looked up for more. I wish I had had more. Instead, I just sat on one of the bamboo hammocks and petted them as they nuzzled their faces into my hands and lap. And when I walked up to my bungalow and sat down on the porch to write, they all joined me, laying together in a heap by the stairs. Since then, two of them have trotted off into the yard, but every time they pass my porch on their nightly rounds, they stop, sniff the air in my direction, and wag their tails. The other guy is passed out and snoozing about five feet away 😉