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Jakarta Post

Bali's dogs in the eyes of Gung Dewi

Mon, January 16, 2017   /   06:56 pm
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    Survivor: Bulan, one of the stray dogs adopted by Gung Dewi’s family, has terrible scars on its muzzle. The dog was attacked until it nearly died by an unknown individual near a cemetery in the village a few weeks ago. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Morning routine: Gung Dewi braids her hair before going to school. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Devoted: Gung Dewi prays with her father in a temple in their village. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Close to her heart beat: Agung Dewi Laina Pertini, 12, hugs her dog, Salem, in Bangki Lasan Mas village, Ubud, Gianyar, Bali. Gung Dewi got the dog two years ago when she was sick. They have not been parted since then. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Shooting touch: Gung Dewi applies some medicine to one of her dogs, Mery, which gets hurt after a fight with other dogs. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Living in harmony: Gung Dewi makes Balinese offerings on a woven bamboo basket. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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    Feeding time: Gung Dewi’s dogs devour their food. JP/ Agung Parameswara

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.