Dog resting in a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Almost a decade ago, in a sweltering island far away, I volunteered in an animal sanctuary, specifically, for dogs and cats. The place was owned by a Buddhist lady who gathered all the stray dogs and cats in the island and gave them food and shelter.
I was assigned in one of the two dog sections. There were about 40 dogs where I was assigned at. Two regular volunteer staff manned the place, and in addition, at that time, there were three of us who were temporary volunteers.
Our tasks were simple. We feed the dogs twice a day and clean their pens. There was also a play time where we play with one or two dogs at a time. The dogs were bathed at regular intervals by the longterm staff who know better each dog’s temperament.
In my two weeks stay at the sanctuary, I observed that the dogs acted like all sorts of humans. Just like human beings, they have their own signature personalities. It could be due to their intrinsic nature as dogs, or they have acquired their behavior based on their backgrounds. The reason could be both.
Some dogs were very restless like as if they had ADHD. Other dogs were timid and resigned. More than a couple of dogs were aggressive and we were told not to go near them. One short, pudgy dog, I named the ‘Buddha Dog’, particularly caught my attention. Every evening, she sat in one spot, in perfect repose, looking out to the moon, whether the moon appeared or not. I did not know whether to pity her or to admire her. When I tried to get her attention, she simply looked at me with a gentle smile, and then turned her head to resume her private meditation. She stood out among the rest for having a calm and self-contained disposition. Watching her every evening was quite moving; it made me reflect on myself. Due to her quiet and solitary behavior, they paired her with a fidgety roommate who was extremely hungry for love and attention. But the Buddha Dog remained undisturbed in her corner, totally ignoring her pitiful whining roommate, and so the latter’s needs could not be met. I thought they were not a good match as roommates. But it was the sanctuary’s system to put together dogs with contrasting behaviors. They thought the arrangement would help keep the balance. I don’t know if it was a good system, but unless the match resulted in aggressive behavior, they were kept that way.
At particular times of the day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, we played chillout music for the dogs. I asked the other volunteer what is it for. She told me two reasons: one is to calm the dogs, especially at that time of the day when they tend to be restless and howl. Another reason, according to her, was that the lady owner believed that the music would elevate the dogs’ consciousness so that the next time they reincarnate, they would reincarnate in better circumstances; hopefully, they would reincarnate as humans!
I thought the second reason, if it is indeed true, was quite interesting. It was even more interesting that the music that would elevate their consciousness to a higher plane was the chillout electronic lounge music, Buddha Bar.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Buddha Bar music – I really do – but for it to be used to elevate animal consciousness to some higher level? 🙂 Well, who am I to say? After all, like Jon Snow, I know nothing.