Friday, January 05, 2007


I've seen the dog many times, sort of a small Irish Setter-ish type chained to a post by the side of a busy road. It didn't seem like a very happy situation, but he looked healthy enough, so I figured someone was taking care of him.

When I saw him the other day, though, he looked thinner. He seemed restless. A nearby construction project is in limbo, and I figured maybe the workers had abandoned him. I kept thinking about him while I was at work. When I got out, I bought some water and an order of fried rice and went to find him.

He was curled up on the sidewalk, asleep, in front of a roadside tire-repair stand. These are a common phenomenon in Jakarta, possibly because they're not above scattering some tacks in the road when business is slow.

I asked the taxi driver to wait. A streetlamp created a puddle of light on the sidewalk and two men standing in it were watching me closely. My heart sank. An abandoned dog is a lot easier to help than one with a bad owner.

"Hello, sir, is this your dog?" I asked the older one.

"Yes," he said.

"I was worried about the dog," I said, struggling to find the right words. "I thought maybe there wasn't a person."

The man looked at the taxi. We had overshot the location and the driver was backing up. "What is that taxi doing?" he said.

"I was in the taxi and I saw the dog and I was worried." I wondered if he thought I was a dognapper. He seemed to relax, though. He shook my hand, introduced himself, and wished me a happy new year. I wished him one too. I turned around and got in the taxi with my fried rice and left.

I still think the dog is too thin. I'll have to try to slip him some biscuits. In the US, where there are laws about where and how you shelter animals, you could probably go after the owner. I don't think there are laws like that here.

All the way home I felt like the rescuers who tried to get to the site of the plane crash this week, only to find they had bad information. They showed up with food and water and gear, brimming with a kind of evangelistic fervor to save someone, but there was nobody to save. Sometimes going away with your hands full is worse than going away empty-handed.


Chad's Dad said...

Now that you mention care of dogs, I've been wondering how people with disabilities fare in Indonesia? How about education for children with disabilities. Are there any accessiblility laws?

kopisusu2 said...

Oh man. From what I've seen it's pretty grim. There are a fair number of people with disabilities begging in the streets. Poverty alone is a significant barrier to education, and disability must add another big hurdle. Poking around just now, I found one website that says less than 10 percent of kids with disabilities get an education here.

If there are accessibility laws, they're not enforced. Sidewalks are nonexistent or largely impassable for wheelchairs.

Here's an interesting and depressing article:

Robyn said...

One of the hardest things about being in Asia, for sure. You could always bring the dog some food on a regular basis and tell (fib to) the owner that you had a dog, had to leave it in the US, and you miss it, does he mind if you visit the dog, something like that. It's worked for me before.