Stickman Readers' Submissions December 15th, 2003

A Dog’s Life

We see them everywhere but do not acknowledge they exist. In the shadows they hunt for food, sometimes eating our refuse, sometimes eating carrion of their own. During the intolerable heat of the day they just collapse where they want until they are shooed away by the corner shopkeeper or by you and me. They stand in the rain, searching and observing. They are merely part of the grimy background tapestry of Bangkok. They are everywhere, on every street, on every soi, in parks, and in unused decrepit buildings. They are the unneeded, unwanted, and shunned.

They are soi dogs. They are everywhere. Most of us just ignore them as background noise, furry flits of brown and black, sometimes tan or off white and gray. They exist because of us. Sometimes the unwanted are set free to follow their destiny, sometimes they mate and make more of the unwanted and shunned. Beggars sometimes befriend them, giving them a reason other than just to exist.

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Sometimes they are killed by fate, by a person, who doesn't care, by the police, by the shopkeeper on the corner, by you and me. Every now and again one will be crushed under the wheels of a car. We gather and look at the poor mange ridden beast and weep. I've seen it before: Old men weeping at the sight, middle-aged women and young girls crying at the demise. Young men and boys fighting back tears as they view the death of the unwanted, at the fate of the shunned. Bargirls gather and look on, trying not too shed a tear. Their hearts are pained with feeling of grief and fear.

Someone eventually slides a piece of cardboard under the body and then picks it up and moves it to the refuse bin. The old men walk away, the shopkeeper goes back to her job. The young men and boys leave. Bargirls go back to the music and lights. The unwanted that still live watch from the shadows.

Every now and again the unwanted find food and companionship from a stranger. They are wary and taught, having learned the lessons of the shunned firsthand. Trust can never be given, Love can never be felt. It lasts for but a moment and is gone. Back to the shadows and alleys. Back to the hunt for food. Back to avoiding the shopkeepers stick.

They disappear back to the murky veil of night. Grotesquely deformed beggars are their kin. Sometimes living for the moment, sometimes dying a lonely death.

They are everywhere, the unwanted, the unneeded, and the shunned. Vilified as they carry disease, ignored as they pass us by in the soi.

Beggars and soi dogs share a life. One of the unwanted, the unneeded, the shunned. We pass them by, nary a look. They are merely background and shapes in the distance.

The young despise them, the old fear them. Authorities are embarrassed by them, so they are ignored. Yet they still remain. They exist and observe, watching us move from place to place, watching us work and play, watching us love. We see them everywhere and pretend not to notice.

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After all what's a beggars life? What's a soi dog's life compared to our own?

Stickman says:

At the risk of sounding harsh, soi dogs get no sympathy from me. A menace to society. Shots in the stomach for rabies do not excite me.

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