A few years back A and I stayed in an open-air bamboo hut in the highlands of Bali for five weeks. It was an incredible experience getting back to basics and living in nature a bit. We were surrounded by coffee and coconut farms and drank fresh spring water right from the tap.
But things were not always smooth there as we learned - the occasional turf war confrontations between neighboring villages with machetes and axes and the like, a hundred miles away from medical options or grocery stores as we knew them, and vicious pack dogs that protected the farmers.
Some of these dogs we had to adopt for a time, as they were the owner's and were raised in the few huts he owned on our hillside. This made trekking or jogging along the village path challenging as the dogs would rush out from homes to savagely bark and nip at your heals. We felt on constant alert and edge if we ventured out from the hut.
That took some getting used. But after a while it was nice to have the owner's dogs around. One of the dogs, a little pup named Poni really moved in with us and raised hell quite often. But we quickly got attached to him.
Poni was an outsider as far as the other dogs were concerned, and they never quite accepted him. Feeding times were always a test of dominance and Poni would get chased away until the others were finished and we could sneak some food to him. One day when scraps were thrown out to them by a villager Poni rushed to grab some. The owner's dog Chio attacked him ferociously, biting into his skull and swinging him around like a rag doll. He was screaming and bleeding from his skull and face until he passed out.
This was a complicated situation because technically the landlord's dog was the culprit, and it was her (Chio's) home after all. Poni really only came into the picture when A and I moved in...so no-one was attached to him but us. But we were, and I for one lost my cool and went after Chio looking for blood, who fled in fear. We made it clear to Chio she wasn't welcome around us after that, despite her attempts to crawl back with her tail between her legs and make recompense. We were more focused on protecting Poni, who barely survived.
A couple weeks later A was jogging down the hill and several dogs rushed out from a house after her. Again, these were not normal domestic animals. For whatever reason the dogs in Bali are more like wild pack animals than domestic sweet things. And they will attack on occasion. So as A was passing a protected house two dogs attacked, and if it wasn't Chio, the owner's dog, the one who savagely attacked our little Poni, that cut in between and fought them back, escorting A safely all the way home.
We felt so foolish for our anger, for hating this creature that only knew the impulse to secure its own food, and that of its new babies. Chio didn't bear any grudges and risked her life to save A. We judged her so harshly for what we had seen, but we had only seen a glimpse of who she was. Anger kept us from opening up and accepting her, and despite that she was as loyal as they come.
So much is lost in hasty judgment. Life is always far more complex than good-bad, right-wrong, black-white circumstances.
The patient, non-judgmental mind gets to see far more beauty in this world. That's just the way it is.