Tonight Blackfish was raced out of Tesco. The guards pulled me up. ‘Is that your dog?”
Of course it’s not. I’m a tourist, I said. About five guards were running towards the dog like it was some giant rat that threatened to eat the supermarket’s stock; or worse still, take a few upskirt shots.
But it’s the hotel’s dog, I said innocently. One of the guards softens. The Malays giggled and laughed. It’s not that often they see a white guy walking into a supermarket with a dog that looks like an Australian Dingo.
Blackfish has adopted me and decided to tag along on my last end of my journey. But we do have a few issues crossing roads, but we are learning.
I walk out of the supermarket, after buying some supplies. Fruit is my new kick now. And one of the guards told me the dog was waiting for me. He even walked around the car park, looking for it. Blackfish had long gone.
I’m sure we’ll meet up soon.
Yesterday I was craving for some fish and chips at Dave’s Cafe at the mall. I knew that Blackfish would face some difficulty. But I do have my plans. It’s the same mall where the ATM ripped me off quite a lot of cash. I’m planning a walk through the mall with a stray dog very soon. But the tests run was cut short by a Nepalese guard. “Excuse me mister, excuse me.’
I walked up to him and gave the best evil look I could conjure. ‘It’s not my fucking dog. I’m just a tourist.’ At least the chap had the decency to ask before he got his baton and scared Blackfish away. I enjoyed my meal. But Blackfish is independent that way, and doesn’t need baby sitting like most of the slothful domesticated dogs.
After a lovely Subway today I was still worrying to death if Blackfish made it back home alive. My doubts were quelled when Blackfish greeted me by pissing on my feet and humping my legs. No, he’s much more dignified than that.
He has survived this and other walks home alone, crossing two very busy intersections. And he’s always excited to see me. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see him, alive. His greeting is like a game we play. ‘I made it home alone dad and didn’t become road kill.’ That’s what he wants to tell me.
Blackfish’s infectious ‘welcome home lick and general jump all over me’ is always a welcome change from the usual. People are usually happy to see the back of me.
Crossing roads can be dangerous even for humans. Malaysian drivers have no regard for any life when they are behind a wheel.
I usually take the lead. But sometimes Blackfish will dart across the road before me if he sees an opening. Once he’s got momentum, he just darts across the road. But other times his judgement is off kilter. That’s when I start to worry.
He’s not like Thai dogs at all. He’s neither sly nor a mangy and nasty piece of work. Thai street dogs will take a chunk out of your calf if they think you haven’t spotted them.
Blackfish is a Malay dog. He’s nervous but happy go lucky, prone to bouts of insecurity but can hold his own on a one on one fight.
It’s really nice to have a friend tag along. It can get lonely on the open road. I think he’s adopted me.
Blackfish is one of five street dogs that Muck the night manager takes care of and the hotel is their address.
Blackfish’s brother is Jagger, and he’s a bit lighter and skinnier, but also likes wandering further than his home turf. Muck, is originally from Indonesia, pays about 150 Ringgit (AUD$ 50) month to feed them.
That’s quite a lot of money in these tight times. He is also taking care of another dog who lives under a truck who has just bought seven new pups into this world. He says that the father is Blackfish. Both the parents of Blackfish and Jagger have passed away, says Muck. He talks about his dogs like they are his children.
As a Muslim, Muck says feeding dogs is quite simple for him. ‘Allah says to take care of every sentient being. And then you will receive his blessings.’
But he tells me he hasn’t won the lottery yet.
Cat’s seem to get the most attention by Muslims in this part of the world. They are dirty smell creatures that will never walk to the corner shop with you. But the night manager is backing the dogs. I think he’s on a winner.
Black Fish just likes chilling with me. He can sit hours while I fart around drinking and eating. He’ll never bark at other dogs in the safe compounds of houses. He is free and sees no reason to play guard dog when doing the nocturnal rounds with me. But he’s weary when he’s entering rival turf. He’ll run across the road and try and avoid a territorial fight.
The other day I passed a pack of dogs. Five of them. They were sleeping. Black Fish tip toed past them. But too late. They were onto his scent. There was no escape for Blackfish unless I could break up the tangled gnashers. I threw a bottle of water on the savages and pretended to be the predator. The traffic had stopped at a red light, and they got to watch a foreigner doing some kind of arcane martial arts in his bid to save Blackfish. But the distraction worked. I wasn’t about to tell the pack of dogs that if they turned on me, I’d be their next meal. My gamble paid off as Blackfish and I legged it back to the motel.
I’m getting used to being chased out of public buildings. ‘It’s not my dog.’ Other times I’d tell the locals that Blackfish is a relative and I’m thinking of applying for Malaysian citizenship. That always gets a laugh.
Earlier today at the clinic, Blackfish waited patiently for me at the door. The Malay receptionist felt sorry for him, and asked me if I would like to take him inside while I waited for the doctor. I said it might scare away your mostly Muslim customers who have a natural aversion to dogs.
‘It’s written in our Koran, we can’t even touch them. It’s an order from God.’ That’s coming from Eddy, a local Malay who serves me the cheapest milky tea in town and who is also doubling up as a theologian on dog matters.
I said it all makes sense now. Only today me and Blackfish were visiting the mosque across the road. And when Blackfish started marking his territory, the guard pulled out his stick, and started thrashing it about.
Blackfish is a pedigree and the closest relative to the dingo and is adored by a few. But Eddie has a soft spot for him. He’s set up a table for me far from the other guests. ‘We just don’t want to upset them.’ I’m drinking my milky tea on the curb of the road and quite enjoy getting up off my seat as a car threatens to bowl me over. Another seller comes up to me and offers Blackfish a fried fish. He devours it.
Both Eddy and I agreed it was unfortunate that dogs don’t know the protocols of Islam. ‘Otherwise they wouldn’t be pissing on the mosque’s lawn if they did.’ Eddy has to agree, and he throws me in a free milky tea for the troubles he caused me by isolating me from the other guests.
I said don’t feel bad at all about it and handed him a Ringgit. He’s not doing that well. He has his outdoor cafe set up under a tent, and uses a 30 meter power cord to get his electricity from a place that’s five houses down.’I pay 50 Ringgit a month for that.’ He said it was much cheaper than a power generator, ‘which would cost me 7 Ringgit a night to run just on fuel. Now add that up over a month.’
Eddie tells me he plans to buy a big plasma TV for the next World Cup. He’s a poor Malay selling food and drinks very cheaply, ‘just so I can get some customers.’ He’s moaning that his friends are dropping by and eating and drinking for free. But he’ll work it out, ‘one problem at a time.’
I said so long as I’m here, I’ll support his business. ‘Why buy a milky tea for 2 Ringgit at the Chinese Food Hall when you can get it for one Ringgit here,’ he says. His prices are rock bottom and he always serves a tea with a smile. He use to work for KFC for ten years and prides himself on his customer service skills.
I thanked Eddie for making me and Blackfish feel very welcome. ‘And the walk across the river to your warung can’t be a bad thing either,’ I said. But a reminder to self, bring the mosquito spray next time if you don’t’ want to be eaten alive. Even Blackfish was being hounded, and I saw that as a cue to return back to the motel.