Three new expats, two human, one canine, countless adventures
So we are off to cargo village at Dubai airport again, second time for me, fifth time for the Boss and the Madam. First time was a bit noisy and scary so I was happy to go into my crate to get weighed, two minutes in there then back out again and driven home on Madam’s lap while the crate was at an angle in the back of the Wrangler. I like sitting in the front of the car, pretending I’m driving. I feel it’s a more natural position for me than stuck in the back and I wonder if they are preparing me for some sort of promotion to permanent front seat status. Though with only two seats in the car that would mean Madam riding in the back. I can live with that.
Bit of a surprise this time when we go through the same procedure and then the Boss and Madam disappear! What’s all that about, I think to myself? Next thing I know I’m carted off from the stifling warehouse area to some nice aircon but I’m still not happy with what’s going on and before I know it I’m loaded onto an aeroplane!!
A long, noisy and scary time passes and then I’m off-loaded into this strange place with strange smells and odd people. I have to admit I was not at all happy with the terms and conditions of my sudden incarceration and with limited means of dissent at my disposal I felt the only option was to stage my own ‘dirty protest’. As I sit, hour after hour, in my crate in this unfamiliar place I regret that rash decision.
As the hours drag on I become more and more convinced that I’ve been sent away for good and think back to all the times I’ve been bad. Only yesterday I snarled and snapped at Madam when she went near the Boss as he was preparing fresh chicken for me (she claims to be vegetarian, and it’s true to say she never has any tasty leftovers on her plate, but I don’t trust her around my chicken). All those times I’ve kept everybody awake by my attempts at singing during the wee hours. But what about all the times I’ve been funny and cute? Surely they’re not sending me off to some faraway doggie gulag?
Little did I know that the Boss was nearby, spending hours waiting on government customs employees turning up for their jobs. She-Who-Stamps-The-Papers eventually strolls in two hours late. She sits down behind her desk, removes her glasses and carefully cleans them and puts them in a box. Then she gets out another glasses case, removes a different set of glasses and just as carefully cleans those before precisely positioning them on her nose and slowly reaching for the Boss’s sheaf of papers. All without once acknowledging his presence or making eye contact. When everything is duly stamped she tosses the papers to one side of the desk, completely ignoring the boss. I’m sure by this stage he felt like doing a protest of his own, probably not one like mine though and that’s a wise decision.
About five hours after landing the Boss comes to see me. What joy!! He takes me out and hoses me down while the nice other people clean my crate and sleeping mat. We go for a walk outside, it’s not nearly as hot here as home but it’s nice. The Boss tells me we are in a place called Thailand and that Madam has gone ahead to prepare our new home and will meet us later. I’m happy to spend a couple of hours walking and hanging out but then suddenly I’m back in that damned crate again! Back on another plane, several hours and another flight and then I’m unloaded into something I’ve not seen before: heavy rain! I see the Boss and the Madam and I’m keen to get out of the crate but it’s into a songthaew (pick-up truck with a roof on the back and bench seats along the sides) and off to my new home!
We arrive home to our nice little house and my familiar bed is waiting for me. After a good sniff around and a hearty dinner (boy am I hungry!), I settle down into an exhausted sleep thinking of this ‘Thailand’ a strange, far away part of Dubai which is green and has rain. It also has an abundance of new smells and I decide to call it the Land of Smells.
We are living in a small compound where ours is one of four small houses while there’s a big house at the back where the landlady lives. Boss and Madam have decided I need to be friends with the other dog that lives here but first order of business for me is to lay down the law and let him know who’s boss around here now. I may have had an unfortunate start in life, being found abandoned in a box when I was a tiny puppy, but I’m a confident girl and if this guy knows what’s best for a quiet life he’ll keep himself to himself. Madam calls him Donner because he looks like a big lump of kebab meat with legs. I’ve never seen a kebab but they sound very tasty (hold the pickle!) and Donner doesn’t look tasty at all. Certainly, he’s not got a nice trim Saluki figure like mine. We are introduced and he is soon hiding behind Madam while I bark and bark and bark. He’s looking up at Madam with sad eyes which plead ‘get that mad bitch away from me PLEASE!’ so I know my work is done.
Later, I find out there’s a compound cat to contend with too. I’ve not met him yet but he’s definitely on my hate list after I see Madam feeding him a bit of my chicken (didn’t I tell you she’s not to be trusted with my chicken?!).
So of course we start going for walks in the area around our home. It’s only Thai people and their Thai dogs living here, no foreigners, so the dogs just roam free. I’m the only dog in the neighbourhood with a lead and we get a lot of amused looks on our walks. The sheer number of dogs is all a bit overwhelming and Madam carries a big stick, the Boss soon realizes the wisdom of that and gets his own, even bigger, stick. The first time we round a corner and a pack of about eight dogs come hurtling towards us barking all three of us freak out and beat a hasty retreat. The local people are good at shouting at their dogs and trying to keep them from getting too close but not all the dogs have people. All goes quite well though until Madam takes me out on her own for the first time and we go into a temple and one of the temple dogs bites me. Madam needs to be a bit faster with that stick! I’m very scared. You’d think being around all that Buddhism the temple dogs would be a bit kind but this little one takes a low down shot and goes for my back leg as we are walking out of the temple. No harm done though except to my pride and Madam’s blood pressure.
I had lots of hobbies in Dubai, my favourite one was sleeping and I practiced that a lot. I still do that here in the Land of Smells but even more in the daytime than before as with all these dogs in the neighbourhood I have to join in the barking several times per night.
Back in Dubai my other hobbies included barking at camels, chasing birds off of our balcony and scaring people when the elevator doors opened and they saw me inside. I only liked to bark at camels when we were going past at 139km per hour. You’d be surprised at how big a camel is up close and when I saw them right next to the car one time we were stopped I was shocked. And uncharacteristically quiet. We only had a small Jeep Wrangler and it was open so I was right in amongst them, not protected as I would have been if we’d had an SUV the size of Belgium like most dogs in Dubai.
As we now live in a little house now with no lifts and no balcony and we’ve not been out to the desert in Thailand yet to see camels (though I’m sure we’ll go soon) I’ve had to get some new hobbies. My favourite is definitely my nocturnal barking which I think Madam likes too as she often makes loud howling noises of her own when I start barking at 3am. I’ve also grown fond of growling at the many geckos which run around our bedroom wall at night. The jury’s still out on walking in the rain. The Boss loves it but I sometimes think Madam was a Saluki in a past life as she likes the desert, the sun, and the heat more than anything.
We’ve been here ten days now and we’re quite settled in our little Blue Sky House (Boss and Madam call it that because it’s upbeat and positive and the landlady owns similarly named bar) but the Boss is keen to move on. The house is basic but Madam likes it here as the district feels rural with lots of green open space despite being only 15 minutes on the motorbikes from the centre of Chiang Mai. It’s also got quite a few streams, something I’ve never seen before! So Madam is saying we should stay a while as it’s cheap; the Boss is saying we should move to where we’ll stay longer term. This all changes two days after the incident with the devil dog in the temple. All three of us are out on an early morning walk when two dogs come barreling out of their yard, barking, snarling and circling us, Madam and the Boss shout and wave their arms and sticks but one of the dogs runs right up behind me and bites me on the back leg, just like that sneaky temple dog. I’m really scared and as soon as Madam sees me cowering with my tail between my legs again her mind is made up: we’re moving!
I’m not injured but being bitten twice in three days is not good so I’m happy when they go out that day and look at five houses. They find two they like and it sounds like we might be moving into one of them very soon! Nothing confirmed yet but I might soon have my own yard and garden in a more upmarket neighbourhood that doesn’t have mean dogs roaming the streets.
I just hope our new home still has geckos to growl at and the occasional night-time barking competitions.
from Mango, aged 8 and a half