Sunday, November 24, 2013

Koh Tao's Hitchhiking Dogs

Koh Tao is an island in the Gulf of Thailand, the northernmost of three in an archipelago, famous as a diving destination.

One of several dog methods of riding
on scooters.
It is populated by about half Thai and half expats from Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.  The island is covered with restaurants, resorts, and all the associated businesses that support them.

There are almost as many wild, feral, and homeless dogs and cats as people. They seem to do quite well for themselves mooching off the humans who feel sorry for them, and those who simply discard a lot of uneaten food.

Even the dogs that are owned wander around town, fearless, knowing that nobody will run over them with a motorcycle because the people of the island are both kind hearted and good drivers.

In fact, many dogs ride on the motorcycles and scooters, with rumps on the seat or the lap of their owners, paws on the handlebars. Often the wife and kids also ride behind on the family's only transportation system.

And some dogs have taken to riding sideways on the scooters, often simply hitching a ride with whoever stops long enough for them to hop on.

My friend told of one 80 pound dog that can really throw off the scooter's balance. He just pushes off from the foot boards when he decides he's reached his destination. He doesn't even wait for the scooter to stop first.

I saw quite a few posters for the humane association, and was told that they routinely pick up animals, spay them, and then let them go back to the pretty good life they'd been living. But there was one poor dog whose back side was paralyzed. She pulled herself all over the beach begging for tidbits. I was a little surprised the association hadn't picked her up yet.