I do not often think of them as rodents, as rats...
In America we have public systems that take 'stray' or wild dogs off the streets and place into 'pounds' or agencies where dogs are kept until adopted or 'put down' (or killed). You will not see a dog walking around without an owner for too long; they will be reported and picked up by a city/town official and taken into a place to await adoption or death. Resulting in the common idea is “we own dogs to love dogs” and thus never would consider dogs like we do squirrels or rats.
Between public services/systems and the culture of owning and raising dogs is so prevalent in a country like America we tend to treat dogs as though they were as special as a child; in need of affection, in need of attention.
As I make my time through Thailand I see dogs sleeping in the middle of the street. Walk around in packs at night. Wonder schools, restaurants, and public areas for left overs. Knocking over garbage cans. Begging people for food. Sneaking their way into restaurants when they think the owner or workers won't notice their presence. Relying on the kindness of people to feed them at least a little something at a specific time of the day. It's a bit ironic when you learn Buddhist actually consider dogs can potentially be reincarnated people. So, SOME monks do feed stray dogs, but since the food is limited, the strongest dog packs claim the area the monks feed within... Same goes for any territory. The strongest do survive. Yet, at times, you do see a dog with broken and limp legs (that never healed properly) following their brothers and sisters for straps. Heart breaking.
I see the dogs as children... Yet, they are actually a problem at times in the little city I lived in for over a year. In a sense, there is an infestation of dogs.. they spread germs, cause accidents, attack dogs owned by households, yet, rarely, cause harm to people. I imagine dogs learn fast not to harm people, because the locals will not tolerate that, and probably kill them. And only recently have animal violence laws been passed, so, it is often acceptable for the dogs to be destroyed by locals in a neighborhood.
So the history of all the wild dogs is simple to note. At the time when it was popular and perceived as 'important' to have a house dog the culture for dog ownership “blew up” in Thailand. After a while, as the economy went down and up and down and up, people began just letting their dogs go free OR wouldn't care so much when their dog ran away when they would feed it less than what they fed them before the money difficulty. In fact, today, the houses that seem to OWN their dogs (the dogs with a collar) seem to be more of a wealthy (well-off) family. Still, just because you let a dog go doesn't mean it doesn't exist anymore...
These mammals have instincts just like you and I; they want eat, they want to breed, and they want to do it again the next day. I see dogs as child that need to reproduce sooner than a mature adult... The dogs that were abandoned didn't stop trying to survive because their owners didn't want to take care of them... No, they would begin the struggle as an individual agent, or, at least until they can join a pack.
At my high school there were 5 black dogs, which seemed to be siblings due to ages, and 1 multi-colored dog (I don't know breeds I am not a scientist) that were a 'unit', a pack. One of my fellow teachers would feed them twice during the school week; once at 8-8:30 and again at 4-4:30. When she would arrive late, the dogs would walk up the stairs to try and find her. Otherwise the dogs wouldn't dare to travel further than the exterior/interior area of stairs; the would sit/lay near the door in order to avoid ran and get shade from the sun. They are sweet dogs and no students really pet them or care about their existence... Because dogs are like rodents... People do not want to harm them but they don't care about them as 'lesser equals' – no – in fact dogs are rodents in Thailand. There are so many wild dogs.
A puppy runs into the street. If I swerve I will fall myself, I try to brake but I am going too fast...
I run over and crushed the puppy.
I stop and turn around. I look at the six or seven people, but one man is trying to resurrect the puppy with cold water. Everyone else is more amazed I stopped and was upset over the pup, than they were worried if puppy would live; they were smiling at me, nodding their head to greet me, and even laughing. The man, a father whom lived across the street, told his wife to get a pick ax and he said to me “it's okay.” But, I wasn't going to leave. I followed his to the back of the farm where 3 more families were lived; a little dirt road. As I walk and follow down this road everyone is again smiling and looking at me, while I am just in a state of dismay over this little puppy – he was cute and just so unlucky. The man began to dig the hole, I tried to help pick the dirt but honestly never worked with one. I watched his technique and tried to duplicate with failure. Instead I helped pull the rocks and dirt out of the hole. All the while, who I believe was his son, was following us with a toy gun making shooting noise – 'pew pew pew'.
He is there watching us dig a hole and tries again to wake up the pup.
He then began hitting the puppy in the face repeatedly. At first I thought to stop him, but why? What if he succeeds.. Also reinsurance of the puppy's fate..
The hole is finished and we place the pup in it and slowly put dirt, rocks and an old t-shirt around him/her. The father said “it's okay, no problem” but I can't help but feel terrible. I kneel at the hole and think “I am sorry for killing a mammal...” “I will be more careful..” “I am sorry...” The father then comes over and grabs my arm and tells me to come. I follow them out and again the people are smiling and nodding at me.. They do not see many foreigners near their houses let alone on their property. I understood why they were excited to see me, but, it was obvious why I was there... I did not want to make friends that day. I wanted to be more careful when I drove for then on.
Dogs may be rodents in Thailand and a large area of South East Area when compared to my home country, but I can't help but bring my culture with me where I go. While I try to fit in and function properly and successfully in a foreign land, I don't think I will ever be immersed enough to accept killing a dog like it were vermin. To me, it is like I killed a child, but not the kind I would go to prison for killing. The kind of child that is no exception because of species... just a child.
This story is the same if it were a kitten... the information is generally the same for cats. Just rats, cats and dogs... And rats are incredibly smart. A rat for a child is a brilliant pet. Give rodents a second thought, I mean, our prime ancestor was a rodent, bottom feeding mammal.