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4 November 2011 / leggypeggy

On dogs—be a little cautious

Dogs are everywhere in Central Asia.

I love dogs, but I’m very wary of them when I travel in developing countries. I usually don’t pet them or feed them. I won’t pick them up and I don’t call them to me.


Because in 1986, I was bitten by a dog that later became rabid.

It was a provoked bite.

This happened when we were living in Burma and the dog belonged to a friend who was on holiday. The dog (Botcha) was being looked after by the household servants. Yes, everyone had servants in Burma—even servants had servants. I said I’d be a back-up for the dog, and was surprised early one Saturday by my friend’s cook (Rose) who called to say the dog had been bitten by a Bad Dog.

I rushed over to find Botcha lying in a lounge chair, looking ever so relaxed. On questioning Rose, I discovered that Botcha had been bitten by a Bad Mad Dog.


It turned out this rabid dog had bitten quite a few dogs and all but Botcha had been destroyed. The Bad Mad Dog had also bitten the wash nanny’s three-year-old.

I won’t go into all the details.

The short version is that I hauled the child off to get the first of a long series of rabies injections. I also got the vet to come give Botcha a booster rabies vaccination (that’s when he bit me), and we locked him up for observation.

Twelve days later Botcha went crazy. In the end, the head vet from the zoo came with a dart gun and an elephant gun (in case he missed with the dart), and Botcha was destroyed.

That’s also the day that I, along with several others, began the course of anti-rabies injections. Luckily, they were the then new French injections in the bum, rather than the old ones in the stomach.

In 2009, before we left for Africa, I was tested for rabies immunity (which only buys me time if I should ever be bitten by another rabid animal) and I tested eight times over the recommended level.

That said, I still tell difficult clients that I was bitten by a rabid dog in 1986 and had all the injections and that, while I have been fine ever since, I keep a list of people I’d like to bite.


Leave a Comment
  1. Louise M Oliver / Nov 4 2011 7:00 pm

    Hi Peggy,
    That’s sad about Botcha and I guess I really, really won’t be going to Asia now. Ever! And goodness, I hope I never get on that list! I could add some names for you though if you like!



    • leggypeggy / Nov 4 2011 7:42 pm

      Louise, the dogs in Asia aren’t waiting for you as you get off the plane. Just avoid them and you’ll be fine. I don’t pet them because I don’t know what condition they’ll be in a week from now.


  2. Derrick / Nov 5 2011 12:57 am

    I’ve seem plenty of mangy dogs on my travels, the sight of some of them puts people off of approaching them, we had to shoot a couple of rabid dogs in some villages though, the locals just lobbed rocks and sticks at them, didnt really cure the problem of them biting anyone (human or animals)

    I saw a really cute pup in Egypt (Luxor), but it was flea ridden, full of mange, the locals fed/watered it, but no one ever approached it (would have been kinder to put it down) there are ‘gangs’ of dogs out there, but they never approached anyone (I guess the locals lob rocks at them)

    Some of the worst looking dogs were in Asia, but again, they never came near anyone, they just looked awful (they could do with a neuter program out there, I think)

    But I would tell anyone, if you wouldnt pet a strange dog at home, why pet a dog in a strange country ? (that looks bad anyway)

    Can I send you names I’d like to see bit ? 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2011 10:56 am

      We’ve seen lots of mangy, flea-ridden dogs throughout our trip, but the majority seem reasonably well fed, which may be a sign of greater affluence in these parts of the world. Haven’t seen many dogs cowering in fear and unwilling to approach people, which is one of the reasons I remain wary about having physical contact with them.
      As for my ‘bite list’—it’s all mine. 🙂


  3. Kenny2dogs / Feb 11 2014 2:06 am

    Here in England we are rabies free, mainly because we are an island. But I fear what could sneak in through the channel tunnel, besides illegal immigrants.
    When in france I never pat horses or dogs.

    I have a kick up the bum list. My own name is at the very top of it sometimes. 🙂


    • leggypeggy / Feb 11 2014 6:34 am

      Good reminder. I’m often high up on my own kick-up-the-bum list.


  4. Derrick / Feb 11 2014 2:23 am

    It has always surprised me with the amount of people that seem to ‘adopt’ an animal when travelling, be it cat, dog, monkey
    They all seem to like these monkeys climbing all over them, even though if you have a good look at them they are crawling with fleas and lice (I know you see them grooming each other, I guess they dont do a very good job) and if you have a white tee shirt, it isnt while afterwards
    A very simple rule to follow, if you wouldnt do it at home, why do it in a country you dont know or even speak the language
    The locals know their country, village, if they wont approach a cat, dog, monkey for a reason, what makes anyone else so special ?
    Yes the UK maybe an island and there hasnt been a major outbreak of rabies for years, but no one approaches a dog they dont know (its bad enough readng about a pet dog attacking its owners)
    If you want to pet a cat or dog, go to an animal sanctuary (at least you will know its not got mange or rabies)
    Just follow the locals, its worked for me 🙂


  5. Dorothy / Mar 1 2015 2:48 pm

    I like the threat at the end. that could have proved useful to my debt collecting in PNG.



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