Practicing Compassion

Compassion helps us trade bodies with someone else, at least for an instant! If I close my eyes, I can picture myself as a movie star. Or an Astronaut. Or a child in Africa. Or, closer to home and changing species, I can imagine myself as a street dog living in Chiang Mai.  

 Seeing a group of street puppies can be super sweet! So many little tail wags and puppy kisses!

…. But do you know what happens after you walk away from them?

 When I practice compassion, I know that a street dog’ life is often quite a cruel life; one where there are lots of dangers and very few protectors.  Having worked with street dogs for over 15 years, I know that for every new litter of puppies in Thailand, most will not live to see their one-year birthday. A few of them will get struck and killed by cars. Some of them will die of Parvo or Distemper virus. And the rest will likely be poisoned.

 Once I became aware of that reality and could see first-hand that dogs were suffering around me, I also realized that compassion is pretty futile without taking action too. To be sad for the dogs but not do anything to help them would feel terrible to me. And so I started helping! I started taking dogs to the clinic for vaccinations and sterilizations. I stopped whenever I saw a dog with mange and learned what medication to give so that it healed. When a dog got hit by a car, instead of driving by thinking: “it’s not my dog, it’s not my problem”, I paid for the dog’s surgery! And every time, the dog’s wag of the tail made it all worth it.

 Most of you know that I am a proud member of Hand to Paw, which was started at Prem in 2009 by a few teachers and students. To this day, Hand to Paw has sterilized over 5,000 cats and dogs, we’ve rehomed hundreds of puppies, we’ve vaccinated and offered medical care to so many street dogs (and cats!), and we provide 400kg of food to local temples each month for the dogs in their care. If you want to see our successes, check us out on FB!

 This is what can happen when one person (or in this case a group of people!) decides not to walk away. This is what happens when we acknowledge that though we are not directly responsible for the problem, we can be responsible for the solution.

 A long time ago, human beings were the ones who brought wolves into their homes in order to protect their territory. We are the ones who transformed wolves into dogs and made them dependent on our care and affection. We, therefore, have a responsibility to them – wolves and dogs have, for many centuries, protected and watched over us. Now it is our turn to protect and watch over them.


Amandine Hawker-Lecesne

Whole School Counsellor

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