A lesson in letting sleeping dogs lie
As the mug-shot for this column might suggest, I do have a certain empathy for dogs and generally get on well with our furry friends. Maybe it's because I was born in the Year of the Dog. But you never know what is around the corner.
Last week for the first time ever I was bitten by a dog. Hardly earth-shattering news, but it still came as a surprise. I should emphasise it was entirely my fault -- the dog was blameless.
We were in Isan at the house of Thai relatives and were leaving just as dusk was falling. A combination of the fading light and my dodgy eyesight saw me misjudge the final step leading down from the house and I took a minor tumble. This in itself would not have been a problem, but unfortunately I landed on their dog, a rather large fellow with most impressive gnashers.
Not surprisingly the hound, which had been minding its own business, enjoying a quiet snooze at the foot of the steps, thought it was being attacked by a crazy fat farang and in response reacted in the manner of any self-respecting Isan canine, taking a bite out of my leg.
My relatives were full of apologies and blamed the dog, but I explained it was not Fido's fault. Fortunately I was wearing jeans which gave some protection, but still suffered a nasty-looking four-inch gash which meant an anti-rabies shot was required as soon as possible.
I must thank the staff at the emergency room of the Tessaban Hospital in downtown Udon who treated me quickly in a friendly, efficient manner. Their good humour even had me leaving the place with bit of a spring in my step -- well, okay, a spring with a definite hint of a limp.
Carry on nurse
The treatment involves taking five separate shots of vaccine over a 28-day period which means in the past 10 days I have become a little too familiar with hospital emergency rooms in Udon, Chaiyaphum and Bangkok. The most memorable was in Khon San district of Chaiyaphum where at 8am I joined hundreds of outpatients in various states of distress, several on stretchers, waiting to be treated for assorted ailments. Once again I was hugely impressed by the overworked staff going about their demanding duties with a spiritual calmness I wish I possessed.
The upside of the dog bite is that I've got to meet lots of nice nurses and doctors who despite their stressful work, somehow maintain a cheerful disposition. I felt a little guilty bothering them with my minor injury as they surely had far more important things to handle than look after the wretched Crutch.
Taking the biscuit
Postmen have the profession most associated with altercations with canines. A bite on the backside from hounds protecting their territory is almost a badge of honour among postal people and regarded simply as an occupational hazard. An English postman made headlines a few years ago for surviving his entire career without being bitten once. On every round he would stuff his pockets with biscuits and if any hound appeared to be a bit uppity he would toss them a couple of digestives and that would do the trick.
Some time ago, after a Bangkok postman was badly bitten, it was revealed that Thai mailmen protected themselves by "firing elastic bands at the dogs' noses" to fend them off. This is not exactly hi-tech weaponry and apart from being sadly ineffective, one suspects that the "elastic band defence" would only irritate the dogs even more.
Anyway, next time I visit the relatives, I might just have a few ginger nuts hidden away "just in case''. But I will skip the elastic bands.
While waiting for my shots in Khon San I noticed a poster featuring a cute puppy. It brought to mind the old music hall song Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me A Bow Wow, with its splendid chorus "I've got a little cat, I'm very fond of that, but I'd rather have a bow wow wow."
I first heard it on BBC Radio's Children's Favourites in the 1950s but the earliest recording dates back to 1892 sung by Vesta Victoria. Among other luminaries that have recorded the Bow Wow song are the late Barbara Windsor, the unlikely pairing of Helen Mirren and Peter Sellers in the 1980 film The Fiendish Plot of Dr Fu Manchu, and the irresistible Miss Piggy.
Thanks to readers responding to last week's item about aptonyms and coming up with a few gems they have personally experienced.
The column mentioned a psychiatrist called Dr Dippy and I am delighted to hear from one Brit who as a kid was actually treated by a Dr Dippy whom he described as "mad as a hatter". Another reader had a psychiatrist with the splendid name of Dr Fears.
Once again the legal profession proved fertile ground and there is currently a top legal firm in the English Midlands called Wright Hassall.
I particularly liked the offering in an online comment which informed us of lawyers in the Irish town of Sligo called Argue & Phibbs.
Another reader was amused to receive correspondence from Britain's Automobile Association signed by a Mrs Muststart, while a letter from a police station came from DC Cosham.
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Bangkok Post columnist
A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.
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