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What is Canine Karma?
I am glad you asked that all important question. First I am going to have to enlighten you about street dogs in Bangkok, and the Buddhist teachings of karma.
I am an American who now lives in Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok as you know is a country whose main religion is Buddhism. Karma is a big part of the Buddhist religion.
Karma also known as the law of cause and effect refers to the actions taken by you both good and bad reflecting back to you, sometimes with equal intensity as the intentions that you had when you first acted upon them, and other times with amplified intensity to reward us for good deeds, or to punish us for our misdeeds.
People in Thailand who follow Buddhism believe if they help out other people and animals those actions will create good karma for them in this lifetime, and a more favorable life in their next lifetime.
There are many street (Soi) dogs in Bangkok. People do not try to remove them from the streets out of respect for their right to live too.
Many people offer them food and water to help make life easier for the canines roaming the streets of Thailand.
I came across a large stray dog that looked similar to a Labrador retriever. This poor dog had a dirty white coat, and was so emaciated I was surprised it was still alive.
The dirty white canine claimed the area near my condo as its territory, and would sleep in various areas not far from my normal walking route. I walked cautiously past the dog several times, but never bothered it.
Let sleeping dogs lay is good advice.
There was one day that I took a good look at the emaciated dog as I walked by and made eye contact with it. The dog looked up at me with sad eyes as if it were pleading for help… something, anything to eat.
In addition to street dogs, another common sight in Bangkok are street vendors selling food. You can find many of them selling meat sticks.
They buy chicken or pork, and cut it into small pieces. Then they stick skewer sticks through the fresh pieces of meat, and grill them to perfection before selling them to hungry customers very cheaply.
I came across one of these vendors on my walk into the great wide open, as Tom Petty would say. Actually it was more like a concrete jungle, but you get the idea.
I thought about the hungry dog left on the streets to fend for itself who was near death from starvation. So on my way back I bought one pork, and one chicken stick for the hungry canine.
Sure enough the skinny dog was still laying down where it was when I passed by earlier. I stood quite a few steps back from the dog as I waved the meat sticks in front of it.
I pulled the chunks of meat off of both sticks and placed them on the ground at my feet as the dog weakened with hunger struggled to get up. I backed away sufficiently to avoid any unnecessary contact with a potentially aggressive dog.
The dog quickly ate the chunks of meat that I left on the ground for it, then looked up at me still hungry for more.
No good deed goes unpunished, and I didn’t want to get bitten by a dog blinded by hunger so I cautiously walked away from it.
My initial fears of getting bit were unfounded. My new best canine friend never made any aggressive moves towards the hand that fed it.
This became a habit over the next few weeks. I fed the dog every day, sometimes twice a day when I left on a new adventure in Bangkok, or to go shopping.
The dog seemed to be waiting for me as I usually fed it in the same place every time. After the first week I could see it putting on weight. I don’t know if it was just me, or if others were feeding it too.
My new canine friend allowed me to pet it at this point, and became much heavier over the next few weeks. It also seemed much happier as it spent less time laying on the ground, and more time wandering the area.
I was walking back towards my condo alone one night after staying out late with some friends, and two rough looking guys stepped in front of my path. They looked at me with piercing eyes, and asked with a Middle Eastern accent, “Where are you going?”
I simply said, “Excuse me” before attempting to walk past them.
They stood taller, and buffed out their chest to let me know that they were not going to let me walk past them.
I stood my ground and stared back at the alpha of the duo for about 15 seconds until I heard a deep growl, followed by an aggressive bark coming from behind me.
Great I am surrounded I thought, before looking back at my new adversary only to see a familiar sight. My canine friend seemed to have an aggressive side after all.
I stepped back a few steps, and pet his back as he continued to bark aggressively at them. I looked back at them, and for some reason they appeared to stand a little less tall, and were less confrontational in their demeanor.
I encouraged the dog to follow me walking forward between them, and they quickly separated giving us plenty of room to get by.
After walking several steps past them I turned back around, and looked back at them, they were still looking at us, so I took a couple of steps towards them which started the dog barking again.
They quickly walked off in the other direction. Hostile situation avoided thanks to my canine friend.
That my friends is Canine Karma.