Before packing my bags to Thailand I was aware of the fact that I had next to no jabs, especially the rabies vaccine which can be pretty expensive, I told myself that I wouldn’t touch any animals because I’d be screwed if they bit me.
Fast forward a few days and I’m picking up every furry thing that moves, I like to think that I’m a good judge of character and that extends to our furry friends, if I see a dog that looks nervous I’m probably going to stay back. There are methods that I use to approach a new animal, it always helps to have food because you have an instant bond of feeder and feedie, but both cats and dogs appreciate being approached slowly and lowly, always make a fist low to the floor and with cats, squint your eyes and maybe yawn if you’re wanting to go that extra mile, it shows that you mean them no harm. With dogs, they don’t always appreciate being touched on their backs or even on the top of their heads, it’s a sign of domination so not a great move when you don’t know them, behind their ears and under their jaws/across their chests are usually high scorers.
I made many a bond with many an animal on my way across Thailand, each of them had their own personalities and backgrounds, each living in different circumstances, some of the lucky few had dedicated owners where as the majority were living off the streets, using nothing but their cuteness to encourage passers by to offer them scraps of food.
Fortunately Thailand being 97% Buddhist means that the locals like to ‘make good’ and one of the ways to do this on a daily basis is to feed stray animals, so whilst they might not have dedicated owners, they often do get a regular meal if they know where to hang out.
This little girl was on Koh Lanta living by a bar that had a friendly woman who clearly looked after her but denied being her owner, some Thai people don't seem to understand that if you feed a cat everyday and allow it to live in your building that it is in-fact your cat. She was one of my favourites that I met on my travels, I sat having a beer with her on my lap whilst I gave her a "cat massage" the bar owner told me how jealous she was of the cat, demanding that she be next.
Through a settler village in a mountainous valley in Chiang Mai we found a beautiful group of puppies being looked after by locals, they were located on a path between a road and an idealic waterfall so it was pretty clear that they were an asset in attracting tourists to stop and look at their wares, much like a lot of other animals around businesses, a tool to capture farang (foreigners).
This little guy I liked to call ‘Party Dog’ simply because he was sat outside a loud nightclub on the beach of Koh Phi Phi, the music didn’t seem to phase him, he’d clearly been fussed over by hundreds of tourists before us because he simply couldn’t give a shite that we were drunkenly praising his fluff.
This special looking thing was a dog we volunteered to walk at a local shelter on Koh Lanta, his legs were damaged in a fight with another dog so after about 10 minutes of walking he expects to be picked up, he had been adopted by a couple from New York and was simply waiting a week for his flight there, lucky bastard.
The dopey looking dude above is “Dam” he was the pet of the resort owner we stayed at for two weeks on Koh Lanta, he was quite shy at first but after a few belly rubs he would limp up to me whenever he saw me, he along with the tiny yapper below were guard dogs, he always seemed to struggle walking until the little yapper would spot another dog, then he would sprint behind yapper and his legs would move so fast that you couldn’t tell he only had three.
This guy I met when I went to a golfing range, he barked the house down and was acting really tough until a little Thai lady came out and informed me that he’s all bark and no bite, pulling away the curtain of fearlessness, much like humans, it’s usually the loud ones that are the most fearful.
I met this beautiful creature when I entered a gold shop, it was quite the picture, a room draped in red with real gold hanging from the walls behind glass,and the cat above sat on top of it, looking you in the eyes, judging you for your lack of expensive jewellery.
1200 steps up a mountain with a 900 feet ascent, this dog was sleeping on top right next to a giant Buddha statue, I have to assume that the local monks looked after him but I can’t be sure, I don’t know if he ever descends the steps or he simply enjoys mountain life so much that he stays up there, either way he was really friendly, much like the Buddhist monks whom practise their faith on top of the holy mountain on a daily basis.
I had to shout at a fat Thai kid for walking past this pregnant cat and not lifting his foot (on purpose) and kicking her, he knew what he had done wrong. The worrying thing is that later that night we saw him with a group holding a shoe box, coaxing the cat towards them, I only hope that he was trying to make good, we watched them for a short while and it seemed that they respected that she was a living thing, but can’t be sure, we don’t know if the shoe box was related or if we were being paranoid, my girlfriend still worries about her.
When I stumbled upon this cross-eyed siamese cat I felt like Karl Pilkington on his trip to India “Have you ever seen a cross eyed cat?” He was hanging out near a bus station with a small food market accompanied by a bunch of kittens. He was super friendly and playful, jumping on my shoe laces and attacking them whilst I was playing with the kittens.
And finally this beautiful creature was spotted as a kind of mascot at the front of a massage parlour, I was stroking his face, taking pictures of him and soaking in his friendly nature until one of the stunning Thai women pointed at the face of an even more stunning Thai masseuse and saying “what about that? Is she not beautiful?” I agreed and quickly went on my way before I ended up on a table being bent out of shape.
If you’re abroad and unsure about petting animals, you probably shouldn’t, your nervousness makes the animals nervous and you’ll probably be nipped.