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THONGDAM
  

A beautiful tale about a beautiful dog.

As you must know by now, no worse fate can befall a home-owned dog in Thailand than to be dumped at a temple. This is what happened to Thongdam, a name given to her by the kind monk who took pity on her. It means ‘black gold’ and it suits her.

I remember seeing her for the first time at Wat Na Huay, when the nuns told me that a big black dog had been left in the grounds with three puppies. They were all terrified of her, purely because of the fact that she was a big dog (for Thai standards). They told me that she was dangerous and that she attacked people, as she barked at them. I started feeding them and did not see any signs of aggression, only a scared mother trying to protect her pups. She did bark when she saw me, but only in greeting. It was very unfortunate that I had to go abroad soon after getting to know them and when I came back, I was sad to hear that all three pups had been killed by careless drivers. I cannot imagine why people don’t take greater care when driving through a temple compound!

I heard that Achaan (the monk who teaches the newly recruited young monks) was now looking after her, but he was often away. She was constantly threatened by other dogs like Bully, despite her size and from then on I only ever saw her sitting on the top step of the stairs leading up to the Achaan’s quarters. It was obvious that she was pining and slowly fading. Achaan asked me on several occasions if I could not take her or find a home for her. She must have been cared for in a good home as she was in fine condition. Why would anyone want to get rid of a dog like that. I had her neutered and vaccinated. She turned out to be so gentle and friendly that even the nuns could stroke her now. I was also glad that she had become a foster mother to a litter of 4 and that she made friends with a newly dumped male dog, but she was still on the stairs most of the time.

One day I took my friends to see the temple dogs and told them about this poor dog sitting on the top step all day, because she didn’t dare to join the other dogs. Amazingly, one of my friends, out of the blue, just announced that she would consider taking her home as company for her dog. I did not believe it, because people do not normally take a dog on impulse. But she came the next day, put Thongdam in her car and just drove off. I fully expected to hear from her that the dog was a mistake, or that she could not get on with her own dog, who was also a rescue dog. But it all worked out beautifully, the main thing was that Thongdam was nice to her little daughter. Thongdam is looking fantastic now, has a lovely shiny coat and has put on weight. She goes for walks alongside the bicycle of her new owner and she is allowed to go out of the compound on her own. The best proof of her happiness is that she always returns to her new home.