It can hardly be said that I am super soft about animals. I have known people who want to take home every cat or dog they see along their way. Much as I dislike seeing stray animals, I am rational enough to know that I cannot help except by calling the Humane Society.
When I was growing up in South Africa, at many of my friends houses there was a chain dog. My dog, if it was mine because my parents took care of it, would sometimes follow me to school, and wait till it was time to go home.
I wasn't a big animal person like my brothers, but I have had pets all my life and I enjoyed their company. Those who read my blog regularly or browse for earlier posts, will know that I am very much attached to my dog, Athena. She is my constant companion and it pains me that we are separated for the time I am here. I even brought her to Europe from the U.S. because I could not leave her behind while I was gone.
In Thailand, there are mangy dogs on every corner, usually close to the food stands, which are truly everywhere. They are fat, but have sores and the mange is so bad that it's horrible to look at.
At the big Weekend Market I had to go through quite a few moments of horror. There were animals of every kind for sale ranging from reptiles to little hedgehogs, with paws that were still rosy pink because they were so young.
When the local Humane Society puts dogs up for adoption at Pet Smart, they are usually barking or interacting in some way with the people who come to look at them. Not so on the market. Dogs cowering in a corner, looking you with extreme submission. I am sure that many Thai love their pets, and I have seen quite a few with well pampered dogs at the vet, where we took the new addition to the family, a little Scottish Fold kitten for her shots.
I was surprised to see the Thai Ridgeback, a very unique dog and little known breed in the West, in cages, and although they looked physically well, they had the same forlorn look in their eyes as the other dogs.
It makes you realize that although people are much the same all over the world, there are cultural differences that we don't always understand, but I think that is why we travel. Precisely because we want to see and learn about these differences. If it was the same everywhere, which slowly we are coming to, with McDonalds and Starbucks doing their very best, travel would not be half as exciting.