For Buddhists who believe in the next life, they always have a trivia question to ask each other.
“What do you want to be in the next life?”
Of course, everyone would say “Human” without any lingering thought. But after what I perceived from my latest trip in Bhutan, I may refigure my answer.
Perhaps being a dog won’t be a bad idea
I have carefully planned the schedule for my dog life in Bhutan. I’ll wake up in the morning with little physical exercises and spend an entire half of the day by strolling around monastery and seeking some food near local butcher’s shop. Then I’ll have a meeting with my little friend, a black dog, near the bus parking ground. We together will go to the Dzong, the city fortress, for sunbathing. After that I might feel starving, so I will circle around hotel restaurant’s back doors for the dinner. When the night comes, I will find a comfy place to sleep and end my day with 10 minutes howl.
What a peaceful life!
This is a life of doggo in Bhutan.
Bhutanese have an unusual concept of raising dogs. It’s quite diverse from the rest of the world. Some family have a dog as a pet with the concept of ownership. But most of them or around 100,000 dogs across the country are “Community Dogs” strolling around independently without any strings attached to human.
For generations, Bhutanese always have strict attitudes of compassion and not to cause any harm to sentient beings. But for dogs, there’s something more than that. They believe that dog is a previous form before incarnation as a human being. That’s why every stray dog is fed well by people. They look healthy and well-nourished far more than stray dogs (or even homeless people) in other countries. They are so incredibly friendly, perfectly good looking, and well behave.
But there are some points that now Bhutanese concern. The more city grows, the more dog’s population spreads even further. Because there are more plenty of waste food that were left from households, restaurants, and hotels which increase the density of dog’s population in cities.
From men’s best friends turned into the number one most notorious city problem. The howling sound from armies of dog disturbs the people at night. Tour guides usually advice their tourists to prepare some earplugs for sleeping at the night as an essential surviving stuff. However, the night problem seems to be a comical issue comparing with the epidemic from those animals.
Bhutan government is tackling the problem by initiating sterilization program and vaccination services across the country to sustain the population of dogs and control unnoticeable diseases.
This program might take many years but at least it is a way to regain the positive relationship between dogs and human in this unusual circumstance.
After having a big thought, I think my chance to be born as a dog in Bhutan might be very little.
Even if I could, I would be sterilized for sure!
I think it’s time to reconsider my answer again.
Kaewkhwan Ruengdecha (KK) : a producer of Tipitaka : The Living Messages