Mickey’s Wild Ride

Mickey is an unusual Thai dog because he doesn’t look like all the others. He’s a Shih-Poo, a mix between a Shih Tzu (or 獅子狗 Chinese = lion dog) and a Poodle. Both breeds are relatively popular in Thailand, if you can say that any breed is popular in Thailand. Thais have a tendency of just letting things happen, so since Gai had a dog of each breed and they happened to be of different sexes, it happened sooner rather than later. The puppies were oh so cute and all went to good homes. Amongst much Southeast Asian giggling, Mickey went to Gung, who’s a nurse.

I’m a Darwinist, so of course I’m convinced in the truth of ‘the survival of the fittest’ and in Thailand the fittest pet dog is small, cute, funny, relatively intelligent, enough hair so you can wash it often, and above all good-tempered. That’s Mickey. He lives a comfortable Thai-doggy-chai-yen-yen life. “Chai yen yen” means something like ‘take it easy’ and it summarizes to a great extent the Thais approach to life--and Mickey’s in particular. Mickey likes to wander around without any purpose, mainly in his owner’s yard, but of course an excursion to the neighboring yards is always a good diversion. He wags his tail at anyone, plays with any children, and any dog. He even plays with the chickens, much to their chagrin. He’s totally uninhibited and nothing can make him lose his nerve. Gung washes him at least once a day. Many Thai women are possessed with the idea of cleanliness and Gung, being a nurse, is worse than average. So, Mickey is probably the cleanest dog on the planet--that is, after Gung gets home from work and until she lives next morning.

Mickey enjoys sneaking under Gung’s car and entering the engine compartment from below. He’s not the only one; small local mice find the engine compartment temperature a great luxury especially at night when the temperature might fall to… 70 F! Mickey is a great mouse fighter so Gung’s car engine compartment is the place to sneak in and wait for the nightly interlopers. More than once, he has had success with this strategy.

In the morning, Mickey always kind of waves ‘bye-bye, so long’ to his owner by dancing frenetically all around the car, sometimes perilously close to causing an accident with fatal consequences for himself.

One day Gung drives to work early in the morning as she always does, gets to the hospital, parks her car, goes to her office, distributing ‘sawadee kas’ (hellos) and smiles to all fellow workers as well as patients she meets on her way up. That’s the good thing about any Thai hospital. You may be very ill, but watching all those people smiling, you almost wish your self a slowly recovery!

At lunch time, and Thais insist on having a decent lunch at a decent lunch time, Gung decides to go out to buy food for her self and her closest friends at the hospital--which means about 12 nurses, four doctors, three secretaries, one guard, and seven patients. Always smiling and ‘sawadeeing’ she walks her way down to the parking lot and… surprise, surprise, for who’s there sitting right in front of her car? Mickey, of all creatures in the world! He greets his owner with composure and a slightly wagging tail.
The parking lot guard tells her (always smiling) that he tried several times to chase the dog away, but that he would just run around the car and come back to sit exactly on the same spot and finally he gave up.

So Gung takes Mickey in the car and drives the 10 miles back to her home. Mickey sits proudly and casually on the passenger seat. Only his greasy ears disclose his adventure in the engine compartment. On her way back Gung figures out what happened. Now that she thinks of it, she’d been a bit disconcerted by Mickey failing to come and say goodbye to her that morning, but she didn’t give it further thought. Now, she knows what happened. Mickey had been in the engine compartment all the time and when she began driving he just held tight for the ride of his life until they reached the hospital. At the hospital, lost in a lost human world, he figured he would stick to the car, his only known reference point.

And so it is that Mickey, the chai-yen-yen-dog, got a free ride, and a wild one it was, the ride of his life, a perilous one, and got away with it without a scratch, only an extra bath. (Of course this is very dangerous and I do not recommend dogs riding in engine compartments. Mickey was very lucky. Please be careful and watch your dog closely around cars)
--by Dog Star Daily’s roving reporter Roger Abrantes