Who Let The Dogs Out?
I have been living in Thailand pretty well full-time for close to 10 years. Readers will know I have a fantastic Thai wife and a 5-year-old son by her. My Thai wife is often wont to say, ‘Farangs are so stupid!’ and I more often than not reply, ‘Thai not go moon!’ We often agree to disagree and enjoy the banter. However, she was correct about walking alone at night, when it comes to soi dogs.
My first experience with a soi dog was visiting my wife’s rooming house about 6 years ago. There was a central area with rooms off of it and my wife needed a change of clothes and I was left waiting in the central area. A rather large dog took notice of me and ambled towards me with its tail wagging. This is usually a good sign, but not in this case.
My wife was adamant about going to the hospital but the dog’s rabies vaccination was up to date and the dog stayed in the housing complex. I was also wearing heavy cargo shorts and the dog’s teeth did not penetrate the fabric. In terms of a rabies threat this bite was minimal threat. However, it was painful and lasted 10 days.
Back to the present. I was walking back home for exercise and travelling down a soi I had walked well over a hundred times, and it had just turned dark. I noticed a dog chained to the front door of a dwelling. Using the term house would be overkill. I thought, strange to see a dog chained. As I passed by I went to the middle of the street and the dog lunged and bit me just above the ankle. I was incensed, with no way to vent my anger.
What idiot would chain a dog and leave enough slack for the dog to attack into the street. I looked down and my leg was bleeding quite a bit. Decision time. If there was a big stick I would have made the dog pay. If there was a front window, I would have heaved a rock through it! However, I hurried home and voiced my frustration at my wife and child stating, ‘I am done, we head back to Canada next week. Thailand is not a civilized country. Why are soi dogs allowed all over the street?’ My wife just looked at me with that, ‘Farangs are so stupid look’, and my son started to cry.
My wife wanted to go to the hospital immediately but I was thinking, ‘I am not going to allow a Thai hospital to charge me double! I asked her to go to the local pharmacy that hands out anything over the counter to any Thai to get Augmentin, the recommended antibiotic for dog bites. I then went into the shower and washed the puncture wounds with antibacterial soap and applied an antiseptic cream. I started the the Augmentin tablets when my wife came back. I then apologized to my wife and son for the tirade and stated I would think about rabies treatment in the morning.
I then started researching on the internet and with expat friends and decided I needed to see a doctor early the next morning. There is a clinic run by a British expat doctor who speaks Thai and is licensed to practice in Thailand. She is my doctor of choice in Bangkok.
The next morning we jumped in a cab and got to the clinic where my lady doctor referred me to her Thai colleague who had much more experience in dog bites. The Thai doctor asked me quite a few questions. Do you know the dog? Can you find the owner? Has it been vaccinated? Have I been vaccinated?
He then told be I was an intermediate risk of getting rabies (which is always fatal if not treated) and I had a 50/50 chance of catching rabies from the bite. I was not willing to roll the dice on those odds and he said, let’s start the inoculations.
Thirty minutes and 44 needles later I was thoroughly pissed off again. Each puncture would required 20 injections of immunoglobulin for a total of 40 injections, and two shots in the shoulder and 2 shots in the butt! I have 5 more shots over the next month with the duration between each shot lengthening.
I write this submission to remind farangs that Thailand, despite the SkyTrain, The MRT, the fancy malls, the 5-star hotels, is far from civilized once you get off Sukhumvit and beware the soi dogs. It is estimated that 10% of stray dogs in Thailand have rabies.
I also write it because sometimes my wife is smarter than this farang when it comes to things Thai. Never get in an altercation with a Thai, a dog or a human. You will always be the loser.
The author of this article cannot be contacted.