Balinese culture has a unique relationship with dogs, as they are considered to be one of the most important animals in Balinese Hinduism. Dogs are believed to have a spiritual and protective role within the community, as they are believed to possess a divine essence that keeps evil and negative forces away from the people.
There is a famous story that most Balinese know, about Yudhistira refusing entry to heaven as he would not leave his dog. And, this is probably the only story when unconditional love for an animal is the reason a human was allowed through the gates of heaven.
One day, Yudhisthira embarked on a journey to the Himalayas along with his brothers and wife Draupadi. Along the way, one by one, his brothers and wife started falling, and only he managed to reach close to the gates of heaven. As he approached the gates, the Gods welcomed him and offered him a seat in heaven. However, Yudhisthira refused to enter without his brothers and wife who had accompanied him. The gods then told him that his brothers and wife had already been given places in heaven, but he would have to take a test to prove himself worthy of entry. The test was that he had to abandon his loyal dog before entering heaven. Yudhisthira refused to leave his dog behind, and the gods were so impressed with his loyalty that they allowed the dog to accompany him into heaven.
Bali dogs are known for their loyalty and protective instincts, making them popular as guard dogs and pets. They are also highly intelligent and trainable, although their independent nature means they will just sometimes ignore training! (If you have a Bali dog, you’ll know what we mean). Bali dogs are generally very healthy and strong genetically, and have a life expectancy of around 14 years.
Over time, due to the influence of foreign dogs brought into Bali, there have been several breeds mixed with the Bali dog and this produces a new unique breed in look and personality. We must also preserve the pure breed Bali dogs as they are the oldest dog in the animal kingdom, and this cannot be lost. While controlling the dog population in Bali with sterilisation programs, animal welfare groups are keeping record of the pure Bali dogs and ensuring the survival of the puppies. To lose this genetically impressive dog breed would change Bali as they are an important part of the history and culture – a strong and spiritually powerful breed that should be celebrated for their loyalty, intelligence and survival instincts.