The Stray Dogs of Mae Sot

Even though I am now safely absconded in Bangkok riding around in a car not a bike, and am thus no longer seen as a doggy chew toy on a bicycle I still shudder in relief every time we pass a pack of stray dogs in the car. 

So I wussed out and did not get enough photos of the stray dogs doing their dead dog in the sun act but a quick google search of 'stray dogs Mae Sot' brought up a whole multitude of stories and pictures of the stray dogs. Sadly, most of which I had already read in an attempt to found out how to deter stray dogs. These blog posts date back to 2005, and if nothing else I'm sure the stray dog population has increased. Here's someone who got bit twice and here's someone who tried to poke, cajole and yell at them.

This is a picture of the stray dogs who like to hang around inside the U-shaped car park where my Thai lessons are. In fact my thai language lessons were right at the back of this parking lot. 

So I've already written about my detailed research before arriving in Mae Sot, and one of the most common topics I read about was run ins people had with stray dogs, so I was already prepared for being chased and planned to get my rabies shots. However, the one week I had between finishing exams and leaving to the 'endemic area' was not enough to receive the three prophylactic shots and also it was $120AUD each. And as the doctor said to me; 'you'll need five anyways not really going to matter when you get it.' And for those first few days when I was finding my feet and back at the guesthouse not long after dark (6.30pm) it was fine because the stray dogs were yet to shake their afternoon sun daze off. And for those of you who think that talking about things out loud doesn't jinx them, I give you irrefutable proof that it does. The first weekend I was in Mae Sot I went with a few friends to a charity event which we left late-ish, well the latest I had been out in a while ~ 10.30pm. And the topic of stray dogs came up, to which I boldly stated, 'yeh I read about them but they haven't chased me'....BAM instant jinx. The next person I met was a girl who got bitten and needed her FIVE rabies shots, who then told me of a friend who had gotten a massive bite in her calf whilst riding her bike. I was breaking out in a cold sweat since I lived further than the other guesthouses. So I took the advice to carry rocks in my bike basket. Apparently the locals in Mae Sot have deadly accuracy with their rocks to deter stray dogs, and so they are actually scared of them. So feeling a bit stupid about stealing rocks from the charity function owner's garden I pocketed it on my way out. Decided it was too hard to reach into my bike and throw a rock if I was being chased I decided to hold it in my hand; just in case.  

So cycling home on my lonesome having just left my friends behind what should I pass but a temple.  A temple you say, how peaceful! Pfftftfttatfttaft. The monks like to feed the stray dogs, so where do all stray dogs loiter? IN FRONT OF TEMPLES. So as I purposefully kept riding the same speed, so as not to let the dogs think I was playing a game with them by going faster and also riding on the wrong side of the road to avoid them, what should they do but start to growl at me and raise their hackles, and cross the road? So blindly throwing the rock at them I cycled as fast as I could and used a 4WD as a shield as I went around the dogs. I basically collapsed on the floor of my room when I got home. And so lesson learnt; 

(1) Keep rocks in your basket and hand at all times
(2) Don't go out late at night

That was until I left for work the next morning. So I go through this main roundabout on my way to the MTC, it's surrounded by a Tesco, various hawker stalls and a school, with lots of walking pedestrians. And usually when I rode my bike out in the morning the dogs at the round about already looked like this:

But it t'was not to be. The damn dogs were awake on all fours and there was at least 5 of them. So as I went the wrong way around the roundabout to avoid them, since the road was one way and you didn't need to go anticlockwise from 6 o'clock to 3 o'clock to turn right, they crossed the road to chase me!!! Even the motorcyclists were looking at me weird like 'oh what did you do to them, they hate you'. And there was a pedestrian right next to me! Eat the pedestrian! 

So I figured that they:

(a) recognised my bike from it's squeaky breaks 
(b) some dog rubbed against my bike in heat
(c) most likely they just smelt my fear and decided to chase the idiot going the wrong way around a round about to avoid them

So for the rest of my trip I religiously carried a rock in my right hand whilst holding on to the bike handles just in case. My friends didn't believe my stray dog problem until they rode home with me through two separate packs of dogs at which point I realised that dogs are also scared of squeaky breaks. 

For those of you who are planning a trip to Mae Sot here is the summary of my research on detering stray dogs: 

(1) dog whistles only work with varying reliability 
(2) throw a rock at them, and cycle off as fast as you can 
(3) when going past a pack of stray dogs, try and wait for a motorcycle or car to pass first and go with them/ behind them/ on the side without the dogs
(4) break really hard and yell at them (I tried this from a few meters a way which worked) 
(5) get a bike with squeaky breaks, and break as you get closer to them - they do not like it
(6) have a friend, they help
(7) if it is just one stray dog you can hop off your bike and use it as a barrier between you and it as you walk slowly past (this worked on my friendly neighbourhood dog who was more like 'what are you doing, I wouldn't even sniff you let alone bite you')

Anyways here are the photos I managed to take of the dogs whilst hiding behind a car in the dreaded Thai language class carpark. 

Anyways now Pruet's family's gazillion Pomeranians are nothing compared to the stray dogs of Mae sot.

Happy New Year's Eve. 
mel@all.wrapped.up Web Developer

The indecisive crafter

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