“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person” (Andy Rooney)

blue2When we have visitors, I always tell them the same thing about our dogs: “Ignore them; don’t look at them, but look at me and talk to me instead”  – if they do this, the dogs are happy to leave them alone.  The next step for the visitor (assuming they are willing!) is to come on the daily walk with the dogs…and that’s all that’s required, after that the dogs will maybe give them a cursory sniff or two and then pretty much ignore them after that.

Locals are very good at following this advice but westerners (particularly dog lovers) are not so self disciplined.  They find it hard to resist trying to pat the dogs on the head, or will hold out their hands for the dogs to sniff….usually this results in a very quick barking reprimand from the dogs.

One of my friends who is simply terrified of dogs came to visit a few years back… she followed the advice and the dogs left her alone to the point where she felt able to sit outside with the dogs in the evening (which was quite an achievement for her).  However even I could see the nervousness of her body language and the dogs certainly picked up on it, so it was a slightly tense situation and there were a couple of set backs when she automatically flinched when a dog came near, prompting a fury of barking.

maki_chanThis is the catch-22 for people who are not confident around dogs – the dogs sense this and are more likely to bark and hassle someone who appears in anyway fearful of them, so people who are scared of dogs are more likely to have problems with dogs, reinforcing their fears.  It can certainly be a scary situation (and one that has happened to me a number of times) when you have a pack of strange dogs all following you and barking furiously and, almost invariably, they will try to get behind you which makes you even more unnerved.  In those situations I force myself to concentrate on something, for example, “I am walking to that tree and I am very focused and interested in that tree and I am not even noticing these annoying dogs”….it almost always works.

In the villages of the Orang Asli the (many!) dogs simply run free, no-one bothers to try and control them and it is up to the visitor to behave in a way that doesn’t send the dogs crazy… generally all this requires is to walk confidently and ignore the dogs altogether (don’t even look at them) and, above all, don’t try and make friends with them.  A good idea when approaching any sort of village or jungle settlement is to call out before you get too close and an Orang Asli can come out to meet you and accompany you in…that way you will have no problems at all with the dogs.

The other thing about jungle dogs is that they are almost all fearful of humans to some extent…there is little tolerance here for a dog that hassles humans and most of the locals won’t think twice about lobbing a stone at a dog that is giving them problems.  As such, it is very unlikely that a local dog will actually attack a human and will limit itself to a lot of barking instead.

dogs_playing

As someone who grew up with pedigree dogs in the UK, these pariah dogs were a revelation – they are, quite simply, the best dogs I’ve ever come across – hardy, intelligent and (unlike a lot of pedigree dogs) not in the slightest neurotic.  All my dogs were rescued and all had been attacked or abused by humans and yet, within a matter of months, they would overcome whatever horrors lay in their past and became calm and good natured.

jungle_puppies

In the video below I am also (fairly shamelessly!) trying to find a home for some puppies that were born (on April 30th) to a feral dog that took up residence at the end of our drive.  I would dearly love to keep the puppies but simply can’t manage any more dogs so, if you are interested in owning one of these dogs, drop me an email.

So, if you are looking for a real dog that is at home in the jungle then I can really recommend these type of dogs and, personally, I would never even consider getting a pedigree dog again.

As mentioned in the video, there is a truly wild dog in Malaysia and you can click this link to watch the video footage captured by the WWF in the jungle.

dogs_in_jungle