The King and His Dog

Tongdaeng, a previous Bangkok stray, adopted as a pup by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, caught the heart of the Thai people. The book on her life story, “The Story of Tongdaeng,” or เรื่อง ทองแดง, written by His Majesty, turned into a best-seller the moment it went on sale.

Thais love their king, and customers wrestled over the last few books on November 12, 2002, when the book was launched and 200,000 copies were sold. That doubled the first-day sales of the best-selling Harry Potter’s book.

Tongdaeng’s rise from outcast to palace favorite began in 1998 when she entered the Chitralada Palace in Bangkok. It was a present from a medical development centre, which looked after stray dogs and knew that the King loved dogs.

The King praises Tongdaeng as one of the best-mannered, considerate, and respectful dogs in the world and as an example to all Thais on how to behave—particularly politicians. The King’s loyal subjects have been buying the book to read about His Majesty’s views.

TongdaengThe book contains messages on morality and manners—much-appreciated considering the stories of corruption surrounding the country’s politicians. King Bhumibol, a constitutional monarch, enjoys immense respect from his people. He introduces Tongdaeng as “a common dog who is uncommon.”

When chasing other dogs around trees, the King writes, she insists that they always run clockwise. Many readers interpret this as a call for national unity.

Tongdaeng can also pick up and open coconuts at the King’s seaside palace on the Gulf of Thailand even though this can take a long time and result in torn gums—advice to be patient and endure pain in times of adversity.

The King writes, “Tongdaeng shows gratitude and respect—as opposed to people who, after becoming important, might treat with contempt someone of lower status to whom they should be thankful.”

Thais worship their king and have the highest respect for him. He never directly criticises public figures, though he occasionally issues reminders to Thailand’s political leaders about their loose moral standards. Thais remember too well how King Bhumibol ended several serious clashes, particularly the one in Bangkok in May 1992, when the army shot at demonstrators protesting a military takeover. Millions of TV viewers worldwide witnessed the army chief and a democracy campaigner, General Suchinda Kraprayoon and Chamlong Srimuang, prostrating themselves in front of His Majesty as he ordered them to stop the hostilities for the good of the nation.

The ultimate message of Tongdaeng, the crossbreed stray, is that, even though you may be born into poverty, you can rise to the top by means of your attitude and manners.


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Cultural Differences in Dogs—Our Responsibility

Dogs snarling

Dog behavior shows cultural differences from one area to the other (photo by Warren Photography at


Do animals have cultural differences? Do dogs behave differently according to their doggy culture?

Yes, they do. Normal behavior is only normal under specific conditions. Normal behavior is the behavior displayed by the majority of the population in a precise area in a particular period. We may not like it, but if most do it, then it is normal. An extreme example: to behave rationally is not normal among humans since most people behave irrationally.

Yes, dogs show cultural differences. Their facial expressions and body languages show slightly different nuances from region to region. Even barking and howling can be distinctive. Davis Mech discovered that, when he flew to the Abruzzi Mountains in Italy to assist Luigi Boitani and Erik Zimen with their wolf research. The Italian wolves howled with an accent (or so did the Americans).

Natural selection determines the cultural differences our dogs show from one area to the other. We breed those we like best, and we like them differently from place to place. Remember, selection acts upon the phenotype (the way a dog looks and behaves), but the traits pass to the next generation thru the genes (genotypes) involved in the favored phenotypes. Don’t forget as well that our human choices as to preferred animals are also natural selection.

Cultural differences in dogs are easy to spot when one travels as much around the world, as I do. It still surprises me, for example, to see that European English Cocker Spaniels or Bichon Havaneses are so very different from their American counterparts—and not only physically, also behaviorally—same breeds, different cultures.

A culture develops according to the influence of the particular individuals in a group and in their distinct environment. The unique characteristics of the individuals and the environment determine the cultural development. In dogs, we are the most influential environmental factor. Therefore, the same original breeds develop variants depending on the human group with which they interact. Apparently, we create the various canine cultures. The question is whether we do it intentionally or unintentionally.

In a sense, we can say that we have the dogs we deserve. We have created them, either by planning to breed them to achieve specific results or by not caring at all—which amounts to the same in this context. The problem is that cultures evolve, our societies change and so do our needs and requirements—which is fair enough. What does not seem fair to me, is to impose new (cultural) requirements upon the dog, a species we have created to fulfill our different (cultural) needs by then. Of course, we change and so do our dogs. We can change them so they can fulfill new necessities but it requires a well-planned breeding program based on reasonable expectations and scientifically sound methods.

What do you think?

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Are Our Dogs Stressed?

Licked My Balls
Chuckle at the serious and reflect on the amusing; both are amusingly serious and seriously amusing.

Keep smiling!
Read more about stress (from “My Daily Blog”):


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Treat me as a dog, honey!

All characters appearing in this blog are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The facts described may not apply to all regions of the world. Content warning: The following text contains scenes of humor and should not be read by humorless persons.

Dog Pees Sun Bather (by

Dogs are wonderful, aren’t they? (photo from


Treat Me As A Dog

Treat me as a dog!

“Treat me as a dog, honey!” If we were as patient, caring and understanding toward our spouses as we are toward our dogs, I’m sure that the rate of divorces would fall dramatically.

Dog owner: “My dog bites me sometimes when he gets too excited playing with a toy. What can I do?”

Dog owner: “My dog chews the couch and tears down the curtains when he’s home alone. What can I do?”

Dog owner: “My dog pees on the floor when we have guests. What can I do?”

Dog owner: “My dog bites people I meet on the street when they talk to me, but it is only to protect me. What can I do?”

Canine home alone problems (CHAP).

#1 dog problem (photo from ABC news).

Now, substitute the word dog with the word spouse in all sentences above. How many divorces are we facing, do you reckon?

Dog owners go to great extents attempting to solve the problems that invariably will pop up. Being a dog owner is living by the law of Murphy. When all fails, they adapt to their beloved pets and adjust their lives accordingly. They get up early and go to bed late because the dog needs to be walked and do stuff—and sometimes there’s a lot of stuff to do including the almost endless sniffing of a patch of pee.

They don’t go on holidays, or only shortly, because they don’t want to leave the dog behind. The dog decides who they visit, when and for how long. They visit only friends who accept their dog’s visit as well.

Penelope Cruz And Dog

Nothing better than a warm puppy!

The dog cannot be home alone. Gone are the days when they could go to the movies as an impulse.

Gone are the lazy Sunday mornings, staying in bed a bit longer.

Their impeccably clean home is not impeccable any longer because dogs imply hair, dust, fluff, flees, accidents—and the dog never tidies up.

Imagine that your partner bites you when watching an exciting TV program, pees on the toilet seat, hits people who talk to you, force you to go for a walk in pouring rain, regularly interrupts your movie watching, always decides where to go on holidays, chooses which friends you can see, and makes a mess of the house and never cleans up. I bet you would be gone even before you have had the time to finish reading my blog (and I, for one, would not have blamed you for that).

“Treat me as a dog, honey!”

Keep smiling!

PS—Tomorrow, I have an epilog to this one for you. Smiley smiles


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I’m a Citizen of the World

Child Dog Cat

Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life.

I’m a citizen of the World,” I say, when asked where I come from—and I am, in mind and heart.

Diogenes, in about 412 BC, was probably the first to use the expression and express the very same sentiment. Socrates (469-399 BC) concurred: “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” Kaniyan Poongundran, the Tamil poet, wrote (at least 2000 years ago), “To us all towns are one, all men our kin.” Thomas Paine (English-American philosopher, 1737 – 1809), said, “The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.” Albert Einstein (1879-1955) thought of himself as a world citizen, “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.”

I’ve travelled over most of our beautiful planet, seen mountains above the clouds with perennial snow tops, and oceans reaching far beyond the eye can see. I’ve lived in temperatures from 40º C below zero to 40º C above. I’ve eaten all kinds of food prepared by humans and spent many a day and night enjoying the company of people with the most exceptional cultures and habits.

What’s my favorite place? I don’t have one. Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve discovered new pieces in the amazing puzzle of life. Everywhere I’ve been, from the most glamorous cities to the poorest war-torn areas, I’ve met kind and gentle people. I’ve shared water with the Masai in the African desert and rice with the Chhetris in the Nepalese mountains. With all of them, I felt a strong kinship: no country, no culture, no language, no divide—we were family, we were humans, we were sentient living beings.

Life is great!


We want to protect them, who need it most, our children and our animals. We want to keep offering "Knowledge to everyone... everywhere," free courses and blogs. Join us, buy "Dogs And Children," book and course, for the cost of a cup of coffee and a muffin. Help us to help them.