Archive for January 4th, 2012

Mekong Journals: 12

January 4, 2012 in Mekong Journals | Comments (0)


[In January 2003 I accompanied an expedition that was conducting a survey of river dolphins on a stretch of the Mekong River in Cambodia. The expedition was led by Isabel Beasley, who was then a PhD student specializing on Orcaella brevirostris: also known as the ‘Irrawaddy Dolphin’ this species is found in many Asian river systems and deltas. The journal I kept during the expedition will appear on this site as a continuous series of posts. This is part 12 of the series.]


January 7, 2003

Yesterday, as I was writing that last sentence, Isabel came running to the door, spattered with blood. ‘Amitav I’ve been attacked by my dog. I have to go to the hospital.’ She was clutching her left wrist, with a hand that had deep puncture marks. Her T shirt and her pants were stained and bloody. There was a deep six-inch incision in her wrist and some eight wounds along both forearms. There was also a bad bruise on her waist.

‘Of course, I’ll come with you,’ I said. Downstairs the landlord and his son were waiting on their mopeds. We climbed on and headed straight to the hospital.

What had happened was this: after we came back from the survey (at about 5:15) she took her dog ‘Mange’ for a walk. The dog is a small black mutt that she adopted in Phnom Penh last year. Apparently the dog was always a good companion to her, until about a week ago. That was when the landlord locked away another dog, his pet, in a cage, as a punishment. The dog had killed a chicken. The landlord has several dogs and he and his family seem to care for Mange too, especially when Isabel is away. The dogs were used to running around together and evidently Mange was upset at having his companion locked up and had been misbehaving ever since. Certainly he growled very fiercely at me when I arrived – I didn’t like the look in his eye and decided straight away that I’d give him a wide berth.

Yesterday, when Isabel took Mange for a walk, he was distracted and behaved oddly, running back to the house very soon after she’d taken him out. She followed him back and found him sitting beside the caged dog. She yelled at him: bad dog, and waved a finger. The dog growled and she decided that she couldn’t back down. She reached for the collar to pin him down, establishing dominance. But when she took hold of his collar, he turned sideways and fastened his jaws on her and wouldn’t let go. She shook him off but he came after her again and again, attacking her four times, quite savagely. Then he ran upstairs into this apartment. She thought it might attack me and hoped that I was in the shower.

I did hear howls, barks and shouts. But I’ve grown used to hearing strange noises from this dog: it makes a fearsome howling sound, as if it were being tortured, every time Isabel pets it. So I decided to ignore the noise. And then she appeared at the door, with blood all over her.


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