I have been sitting on this post for a very long time ago, because I have not been able to actually properly process the information I wanted to write. If you rather here me talk about it, check out the video here.
They ate my dog.
That is the phrase that has been resonating in my head ever since I went back to Cambodia the second time. Tide, the puppy we had bonded with the previous time, the puppy which guarded the dive shop and followed us into the ocean, was dead.
Tiger, like the millions of other stray dogs in the world, was born by an unknown mother in an unknown place. He lived by proving he was the toughest and strongest. Scavenged for food, growled at any people who meant him harm and fought for territory. The lives of stray dogs are much harsher than the pretty pups we are used to seeing in the ‘western’ world, where people buy premium dog food and argue about whether clothing is appropriate for dogs.
Tiger, despite being no more than 5 months old, had fought daily to keep his territory around the dive shop free from rivals. The dive shop was thankful for no other dogs around so would occasionally give Tiger their food scraps or give him a rub on the belly.
When I came back to Cambodia in July, one of the first things I did was seek out a friend who knew Tiger.
“Where is Tiger?”
“They ate him”
I stared at my friend in shock, and then started to laugh. This clearly must be a joke. Even as the laughter was still coming out of my mouth I had a sense of dread come over me. Tiger would have come when called. He would have been waiting to say hello. Was it truly impossible that he was gone?
Turns out it wasn’t a joke, and a few of the employees of the dive shop reported it to us “foreigners” that indeed Tiger was eaten by a group of the locals. Supposedly they had lured him in by rubbing their fingers together and calling for him. The one thing Tiger lost was his fear for all people, because we treated him well. They used his trust against him, and swiftly swung their machete down on the back of his neck.
I was absolutely speechless. Horrified. How could they eat a dog?
However, just like in The Secret Reason We Eat Meat shows, we are all conditioned to find eating different animals normal. While us in the ‘West’ draw our line at dogs and cats, this isn’t the case in many asian countries. Especially in countries such as Cambodia where the locals eat anything they can get their hands on. Hear more about my thoughts here.
Why was I so horrified by the thought of them eating our companion, while I still do not flinch when people eat chicken? It’s the conditioning. It’s the relationship with the animal. And its cultural.
Tiger was not ever really my dog, he didn’t belong to anyone. Even if the locals most definitely knew that he spent majority of his time at the dive shop. All the other dogs from my previous trips were still running around, but our kind, loyal and friendly pup wasn’t there. Maybe it was our friendship towards him which caused him to lose his life.