Much like that good old British institution Blue Peter, one of the great things about Thai school is its animal mascots. Now Thailand is of course over-run with stray dogs and cats, a result of Buddhist beliefs about not killing things coupled with lack of funds/inclination to do anything else with them (neutering), means that you will sadly encounter some very sorry-looking creatures scabbing around bins and having altercations with traffic. Not nearly as many manky ones as you’d think though, turns out most animals are just as happy sleeping on a pile of compost as an expensive doggy bed and just as happy scarfing down last week’s old rice and chicken bones from a bin as braised lamb from a shiny dish. They tend to be considerably more traffic savvy when raised on a roadside too. The street dogs don’t seem to cause any problems until the sun goes down and then for some reason they turn into territorial East End street gangs; there are some roads that are just off-limits after dark.
If you’re going to be a street mutt though setting up home on a school campus is totally the way to go. In exchange for occasionally getting chased about a bit or having your tail yanked by over-zealous primary-schoolers you get a safe, traffic-free territory full of lots of good sleeping spots, sticky children to lick and play with and all the food you could doggy-well dream of. Barely a day goes by when I don’t see some surreptitious chicken nuggets or bits of bread winging their way into a dog’s mouth from teeny-tiny little fingers. The two collies in particular have utterly perfected the exact right wag/whine/massive manga eyes combo and as a result are actually getting a bit podgy. Fortunately they have wonderful natures and are quite happy to endure some rough-housing as long as they get a good stroke afterwards. The man about campus is this brown and (probably) white fella who I call Scally; short for Scallywag. It used to be a big red dog but he seems to have jumped ship to the nearby university campus. Presumably the bitches there have looser morals. Scally spends most of his time on scraps patrol or sprawled underneath the flag pole luxuriating in the sunshine. I’m actually going to miss these sweet-tempered scroungers quite a bit when the time comes.