Agung Dewi Laina Pertini sees her dogs as an inseparable part of her life. Her family lives together with 29 street dogs in their small house in Mas village, Ubud district, Gianyar, Bali.
The 12-year-old girl who is dearly called Gung Dewi believes that she was once saved by a dog brought to her by her father.
The story began in 2015 when she suffered from food poisoning after eating expired bread she bought from a food stall. She fell unconscious for two days and was treated at a hospital in Gianyar for two weeks. Gung Dewi was even too weak to eat and drink.
One day, her father Oka Yasna saw a small black dog on the street in Bitra village on his way to the hospital. He picked the stray dog to be given to her daughter. At the hospital, the little girl was more than happy to see the lovely present. Quickly after that, she vomited three times, sat down, smiled and hugged the dog.
“The next day, she asked to go home. She said she felt fit and had recovered, and wanted to take care of her new pet, where the doctor had approved her request,” Oka said.
Since then, Gung Dewi and her parents believe that the dog, named Salem, was her savior, and is now part of her life.
In 2015, a number of officers from the Gianyar Animal Husbandry Office came to their house, intending to put down their dogs for fear that they might be infected with rabies.
“I opposed the action, telling them that they had been vaccinated. I also showed the inspection records all of the dogs. Our family have strived to protect these dogs,” Oka said.
He said they did not want their daughter to be sad and sick again from seeing the harsh treatment of the dogs.
Dogs are an important part of the Balinese culture. The dog is denoted as a symbol of Tyaga, meaning bhakti, or devotion with unconditional and sincere love.
Gung Dewi may still be young, but she already knows what she wants to do in the future.
“I don’t like seeing people killing dogs. I want to be a policewoman, so I can punish those who do,” she said.