Friday, 28 December 2012

Blog Post 2: Biting the Dust! An alternative view of dogs in Yangon

You should really think about getting a rabies shot” various people suggested to me when I first arrived in Yangon. “Oh no,” I replied, “nothing can kill me." But more importantly I don’t actually believe in vaccinations. And besides, dogs tend to really like me. After I expressed these opinions, I was then warned about the vast number of evil wild dogs in Yangon and how my chances of getting bitten were almost as high as the chances of a Yangon taxi having no floor (or door for that matter). Three months on, I’m still yet to get the shot and of course, yet to get bitten. After all, dogs are a man’s best friend, right? And, if I have to be honest, it seems to me that the dogs in this town are more interested in biting each other as opposed to us, especially at around three o'clock in the morning.  So for now, seeing as the world didn't end on December 21st, I do believe the human population of Yangon is safe (from raging, biting dogs at least).

After all…….

They all start off like this. If they’re lucky, they’ll die or get eaten by a rat or small cockroach. Yet alas, most of them survive.

You may think that these are actually dead, but I did see one move last Friday.

Surely that black and white one is adopted? Maybe the Mama will eat it.

If the puppies have the slightest look of a pure breed, they will end up here, outside Bogyoke Market (perhaps a rich backpacker will buy one as a souvenir) or down in China Town where anyone can afford one. 

Perhaps these are also dead. But 45,000 Kyat is a little steep for a dead dog.

Is that a rabbit?

Usually they will spend a good while for sale in the cage (a dog is for life, not just for Christmas. And anyway, who needs a dog in Yangon?) by which time they don’t fit in it anymore and so have to be released back on to the street. What a waste of time!

Whilst fleas and ticks are an inevitable part of growing up in this unique city, other diseases could be avoided. These dogs look fairly healthy and relaxed compared to their neighbourhood friends/ enemies.

Chill-out time down on the dock.

It's a dog's life now but give it a few more months, and they could end up like this.

Rabies? More like Scabies.

A fair few of Yangon’s dogs have some sort of skin complaint or amputation. Some look so on the verge of death that it’s a wonder someone doesn’t just kill them (I’ve seen a few taxi drivers try). But then, faced with a dead dog and rubbish bins that are bursting at the lids, would this really be practical? 

Could you fit a few dead dogs in that  rubbish cart? No.

Although in actual fact, someone did tell me just last week that when it’s puppy season in Yangon (like 365 days a year), there are usually attempts at culling the dog population by putting out ‘poisonous rice’. I'm not so sure this method is very effective. Everyday, there seems to be a new addition to the canine population on my street so perhaps they will take over the world soon. I still don’t think they would bite anyone though!

Watch out! That could be poison you're eating!

It’s not just physical conditions that Yangon’s dogs acquire. Many of them suffer from mental illnesses such as depression (possibly post-natal)…. Someone give this dog some Prozac for god’s sake. 

"I wish somebody would shoot me."

Maybe people will start eating Yangon's dogs soon. The only problem is that this could cause a major epidemic (of which disease I’m not sure). You only have to look at the dogs to see why. And besides, is there actually any meat on them? All I can see is ribs and nipples.


I’ve come to realize that most of the time, dogs command a lot of respect here. Some have collars and are given food regularly. Some aren’t that lucky but they still manage to survive and no matter how hungry they are, manners always come first.

Wait, wait, wait, wait. Now!

So, if you really think you might get bitten by one of these scabby creatures, maybe you should think about the injection. Or you could just walk around with a big stick or umbrella and try to attack every dog that comes near you. Or safer still, just stay at home, especially after dark. Whichever method you choose, the dog will  never win. After all, the only thing they really want is to be rich and respected, and get driven around in a big shiny car showing off their new-found wealth to all the low-life street dogs they used to hang with.

Ok, I know. This dog has never lived on the street.

Well, that’s enough from me. I hope you will feel safer walking the streets at night now. I would have liked to have got photographic proof of the dogs biting and fighting each other but like I said, it tends to happen in the early hours and simply hearing the stand-off is bad enough!! Right.... I’m off to see a man about a dog (in a cage)



  1. A shaggy dog story without any shagging.

    Come on L - no need for censorship :)

    1. Thanks for your comments! Apologies for leaving out the shagging!

  2. I forgot to comment on this before, but I just died while reading...Rabies? More like scabies. I remember that dog. Definitely f***ed. xoxox Ali

  3. I hate to say it but.... I got bit by a dog on Sunday night.... on my arse!!!!!!!!!!! 19th Street.... Watch out!!! L x


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