- Dean Bainbridge
KindaMindful in Chiang Mai : The Temple Dogs
Thai people are very chilled, but there’s another level of chill that makes the Thais look like obsessive neurotics. The Street Dogs. They hang where us humans hang. Like the 7 Eleven above. They don't harass. They rarely fight or bite.
In the villages of the highlands, these strays are welcomed guests and ever present. On our first day of sightseeing around the back roads on scooters (the only way to experience the Lanna area) we were more cautious navigating around street dogs than were sharing the road with trucks.
When you see an animal on the road, your first instinct is to anticipate which direction it will race off to in an effort to avoid you.
And that’s the problem.
These down-to-earth doggos don’t avoid you. They are so chill, you’ll be lucky if they raise an eyebrow. Some actually start walking toward you. I’m sure this is hazardous to the dogs, but in our experience, we never saw evidence of injured dogs. We saw plenty of scooters, cars and trucks slow down and wait patiently for them to leave though.
The Street Dogs are prevalent for one main reason. Kindness.
Lanna people are practising Buddhists and are taught to treat every living thing as your mother - based on the assumption that infinitesimal reincarnations make it likely that any animal may have once been the mother of one of your previous forms. So they don’t punish the dogs. They also have an issue with sterilisation too. Its not good for karma.
We met this charming fellow late one night at the Pavana Resort meditation pavilion or Sala.
We were told he was a Temple Dog. The dogs tend to gravitate to temples and the local monks had bestowed this young lad upon the Resort and he has resided here ever since.
The name of this enlightened Temple Dog of Pavana… is Colin.
One very hot and humid night, (not exceptional) Colin followed us down the highest hill back to the main complex and to the pool where we enjoyed a late night dip. Colin waited patiently for us to do our human stuff and happy guided us home via the winding paths right to our doorstep. We thanked him for his service and expected him to leave but he curled up and stayed on our porch for some time after.
In the morning, Colin was gone.
Now, I don’t know if Colin was my mother once. Or I his. I do know that our brief encounter was lovely.
I invite you to consider the ramifications of your actions and reactions to others the way the Lanna folk do. It’s endearing, thoughtful and likely to build up some karma points.
Oh, and if you see Colin, in this life or subsequent others, tell him I said Hi.