Which Street Dog in Thailand Are You?

In Thailand, street dogs are common. For the most part they don’t have owners or collars, and some don’t have much fur either. Thai people believe they can earn merit towards good karma by feeding the dogs, so for the most part street dogs do have food, and in the winter they mysteriously end up with a shirt on, to bear the brutal Thai winter weather. But that’s another story.

street dog in a sweater

I’ve encountered three main kinds of street dogs in my time living in Thailand. The kind I like least are the dogs that are ferocious, barking, baring teeth, hair raised, angry, ready to chase (and do chase) at a moment’s notice. These strays are territorial and do not want any human or other living being in their space.

A second type of stray dog are those who bark and stand, bark and stand, bark and stay put. At first the person passing may think this dog is of the first type, but after a few barks the dog becomes disinterested, and the threat dissolves.

The last kind of street dog is my favorite: the oblivious. These dogs are so engaged in their current activity (sleeping, eating, scrounging, sleeping, sun bathing, shade bathing, eating, scrounging, sleeping, etc.) that they are completely unaware of any threat of intrusion or disturbance.

As a cyclist, it is always a guess as to which type of dog I am approaching. Bicycles are quieter than motorcycles or cars, and so it’s easy to startle a sleeping dog as I pass. That dog lying in the middle of the road—which kind is he? Will he stay sleeping? Or will he chase me angrily, nipping at my heels? The other day I was cycling along a main highway, and a sleek, tan dog was scruffling around in the bushes on the shoulder of the road. As I approached, a cement truck passed me, clattering loudly with every jolt in the road. The dog paid no attention. When I passed him, he didn’t turn to look at me either. Perfect. I figured that if this dog lived by the highway, he would be accustomed to such noises and vibrations of pavement that nothing was worth being distracted from his work.

But he made me think. These three types of street dogs represent three Christian responses to sin. All too often, we are like that tan dog by the highway, type three: when sin or evil or temptation comes along, we don’t blink. We don’t pay attention. We let the sin by, let it hang around, without much thought.

Or perhaps like the second kind of stray dog, we may see the sin coming, and after a few “barks” we ignore it and go about our business. But God calls us to act toward sin like the first kind of street dog acts toward any living thing—be ferocious! Be fierce! Do not let the thing near you! Be territorial, and do not let it in! We are commanded to resist the devil so he will flee from us (James 4:7). We are called to uphold righteousness and holiness in our lives, to honor God and be pure before Him. We are to be on our guard against sin, and run from temptation.

So as much as I do not like those barking, mean street dogs, they remind me to act that way against sin that is crouching at my door.