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Loving Like Cats and Dogs?

An Unusual Story of Feline and Canine Friendship from Bali's Island Neighbor of Flores.

(10/5/2008) Against the backdrop of the celebration of the Idul Fitri holidays of peace and reconciliations, a news story in the National daily Kompas recently caught our eye as a story well worth sharing.

Reinforced by folk tale, fable, jokes and our own first-hand experience we unquestioningly accept that there exists a natural antipathy between cats and dogs.

So strong, in fact, is the absolute line of demarcation between cats and dogs that we allow the world to be divided into two distinct camps: people are labeled as either "dog persons" or "cat persons." In this vein, fights are fought "like cats and dogs," bespeaking battles incapable of peaceful resolution; ending only with the death or hasty retreat of the feline participant.

Once Upon a Time

Enter "Dogi" the eponymous female canine owned by Daniel, a civil servant in Ende, located on the South coast of Flores, an island on the chain of islands stretching east of Bali.

"Dogi", who daily wanders the distance between her owner's office and home, recently arrived on the family doorstep with a newly-born, abandoned white kitten carried gently in her mouth. "Dogi" had discovered two kittens in the ditch outside her owner's office, apparently picked the one that most struck her maternal fancy, and then carried the forlorn cat all the way back home.

As Daniel Ola explained to Kompas: "The small kitten was brought home by 'Dogi' who carried it by its neck. My Son Paul was the first to see them. The cat was taken from an open dry ditch in front of my office."

The distance between Daniel Ola's office and his home is only 500 meters. "Dogi" brought home the cat in August of 2008, immediately adopted the infant feline as its own, and "wet-nursed" the cat three-times-a-day for weeks until it reached the solid food stage. As the picture shown on balidiscovery.com demonstrates, "Dogi" and her adopted "child" have become inseparable.

We Dub You "si-Putih"

While Daniel Ola and his family are unarguably kind-hearted people, it must be admitted that their creative skills at naming pets are severely limited. Forced to name their new pet, they chose "si-Putih the Indonesian equivalent of "whitey", inspired by the cat's white and gray pelt. No surprises here; these are the same people who year's earlier paused and proclaimed the doggy "Dogi."

Should anyone doubt "Dogi's" maternal intentions, take note that neighborhood dogs attempting to threaten "si Putih" have been met by a very protective adoptive Mom with teeth bared, back-hair raised in instinctual anger and menacing growls. As a result, local dogs are keeping a respectful distance from mother and child, the unlikely pairing of "Dogi" and "si-Putih."

The story of a dog and cat living in peace on an island in a remote corner of Indonesia may seem singularly un-newsworthy. And while the story of "Dogi" and "si-Putih" hardly qualifies as "breaking news," such a tale told during the Islamic holiday of peace does offer pause to reflect on what a different world this might be if the big and powerful suddenly took it upon themselves to care and nurture the small and powerless.

Quoting from the 8th century B.C. Prophet, Isaiah:

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
Isaiah 11:6