Zero to Hero
How’s it going? Everything smelling as it should? Nice to sniff your behind, run around the block and get to know you a bit, you seem like a pretty cool bunch of people. Do you like my picture? I made it myself on Photopup.
If you’ve ever been to Bali or Java, you’ll know me. If you haven’t, my name is Zero, and I’m kind of a big deal around here. These days I hang out mostly around Red Island, an awesome beach on South-East Java, with my mates Ari, Mul and Mick. We have a pretty sweet pad going on – pool and all. It has this awesome red sign (at least I’m told it’s red, I’m also told dogs are colour blind, but I don’t believe that part), and it’s got eyes and squiggly lines on it. It looks something like this: M OJ O.
It wasn’t always the high life though. I’ve had my rough and tumble. I’m 3 years old now which is quite good going in my neighbourhood. And don’t look too bad for it though, I check my reflection regularly in the river outside our pad on the way to the beach every morning. Gotta look good for my patrol.
I am what people would describe as an ex-athlete. Maybe a boxer in human terms, although I’d say my experience is more in the MMA field. I was born on a beach on Bali, I can remember seeing the sea for the first time and thinking – WOW what an amazingly large puddle. Then I went in and realized it was all salty, so I didn’t do that again. I’m not a pussy though, it was cause the salt blurred my vision and I needed to be ship sharp.
When I was a young pup, I met these three guys called Mick, Ari and Mul. They came to my restaurant and we hit it off instantaneously. They told me stories of the bright lights of the city, and being young, dumb and full of beans I was intrigued. I couldn’t stop thinking about the excitement of the cosmopolitan lifestyle, so when two hours later they said I should tag along, all three of us headed towards Kuta.
Mul, Ari and Mick are the best. Before I was born, Ari left his village in Red Island to go to university on Bali. From what I understand, a university is a big house full of books and no food, so I don’t really concern myself too much with these things. Ari didn’t have any money, so he slept with my great grandparents under the stars for a few months whilst going to the book house every day. He came out at the end with a piece of paper and a big smile and said he was going to change everyone’s life. “What a dude”, granddad said he’d thought at the time.
He then met Mul and Mick and they set up a shop together in Kuta, which is where we went together. A shop is basically like a university, but with less books, more food and more smelly people. I loved it. I got in with a bit of a rough crowd but they taught me how to fight. And if you can’t fight on Kuta’s streets, you’re out. You basically have to pack your things and move to Seminyak. And no dog wants to do that.
The boys were a slight concern though. Humans can’t fight like dogs, they don’t know the etiquette, they don’t respect the hierarchy of things. Some tiny idiot in a big tin can that says ‘Porsche’ thinks he’s the shit, and some big guy drinks too much of that smelly stuff with the red star on the bottle and thinks he can take someone’s hat without asking. Humans are idiots sometimes, and I know Kuta inside out.
Naturally it was my job to make sure the boys were safe. They are awesome of course, but it’s the other humans you need to worry about. I made sure they were ok though, when they went clubbing I arranged with the manager before so I could go with them. If they took their scooters for a late night snack, I’d be at Macky D’s to make sure they got all the food they ordered, and that no one took any whilst their backs were turned.
They paid me back loads though – Mick even got into a fight once cause this idiot kicked me and Mick stood up for me. And when one day I got into a bit of a furry situation (think Butch in Pulp Fiction – I just have too much integrity to take bribes), Mul and Ari saved my life by smoke bombing with me one night.
Red Island is now my home. When Mick first got here, he was so stunned by the waves he slept under a Pandanas Tree for a week, just to be close to the water. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like there was a house to sleep in anyway, but I’m told that this certain type of human has a tendency to stay close to water they like. They also often carry around a large piece of white plastic, a bit like a door, with a little string on the end. You may not believe me (and I don’t blame you), but I have it on good authority that the string is tied to the human’s leg so the door thing doesn’t get washed away in the waves, cause… wait for it… the humans stand on the door in the waves! Crazy, I know. I think they call it ‘smurfing’.
After the boys got a little bit tired of living under a tree (those mosquitoes are ok if you have fur but if you’re a naked human monkey, they get annoying) they dug out Ari’s piece of paper from university that I heard had something like ‘Degree’ and ‘Tourism Management’ written on it somewhere. “Why is this relevant”, you may ask? I know – after all I can eat a piece of paper in less than 20 seconds. But apparently the paper means Ari has the authority to tell people about a place and bring them there on holiday. So the boys had many meetings with Ari’s friends and family, and everyone else living in the area – all of whom where keen to invite people to come to Red Island.
Ari, Mul and Mick started talking to the government and saved up money to buy a piece of land by the beach. I of course made sure it was all kosher and soon enough they were building small houses with beds so other people could stay in them at the weekend. There was quite a bit of plastic on the beach when we arrived – for me of course a total non-issue as plastic usually contains tasty leftovers. But apparently it’s not so good for the sea and the other animals, so the boys teamed up with the elders and explained it to everyone living there.
Beforehand, no one really cared (except the other dogs, who wanted more plastic as it means more exciting leftovers – no brainer if you ask me), but now they were doing the whole tourism thing, it was good to get everyone to clear up, and to get the government to send round some humans once a week with a big smelly car to collect all the plastic. The boys organized a day when everyone came to the beach and cleaned it up – there were old humans and middle-aged humans and a whole bunch of school humans too.
And that made me think about it – I get food from the boys, and the amazing mix of smells from the smelly car totally make up for the lack of leftovers. It’s so good I even bark thank you at it sometimes. I have my pension; I have my patrol route and make sure no one steps out of line in the area. You can pee on the gateposts, but if you even think about pooping in the pool, you’ll have me to reckon with. Everyone knows that. And our pool is brand-new and the first one in the region, so we’re all very proud of it.
The boys do their smurfing thing and bring other smurfers to Red Island. Some of them are pretty good; I saw one jump out of the end of a wave on one of their doors the other day. It was awesome. Others are not as good (you can tell cause their doors are big and red, with the eyes and squiggly bits on, just like our sign), but they seem to be having loads of fun whilst I make sure they’re safe and don’t poop in the pool.
There’s a group of people digging a huge hole into one of the mountains nearby – and it’s not for hiding stuff, but for pulling this yellow stuff out. I saw this musician called Jay-z on TV, you may have heard of him, although he’s not nearly as well known as I am. He was wearing it around his neck, think it’s called gold. The hole-diggers want to use lots of chemical things, but because of Ari’s tourism idea the humans here know they need to keep the water clean, so are telling the government to not allow the hole diggers to use chemical things.
This tourism thing of Ari’s has been a pretty smart idea, people come to Red Island now just for fun, and to eat in the restaurants, so people here can earn money (and we get the leftovers). And this means they look after it more and more, so more people will come. It’s quite a party – but they’re also making sure it doesn’t grow too much, so I can keep the overview.
So, as you’re a pretty cool crowd, and I love you already, you should come and see us some day. I’ll be here, Mul, Ari and Mick will be, and M OJ O and some other smurfers too. Ask for Red Island – or if you’re talking to a local, just say Pula Merah (see, I’m even teaching you some Indonesian!). Or you can ask these Rat & Dragon guys who are publishing me on their blog if you have one of those metal Wifi box things humans watch videos of cats embarrassing themselves on (big fan of those!). I hear we’re pretty shit hot, we don’t even have tin cans with ‘Porsche’ written on them, just a big clean beach and a pool and lots of doors to stand on in the waves.
** Note from the editor: several spelling mistakes corrected and ‘woof’ noises omitted. For visual record of Red Island, please see DAY 7 of Mojosurf Bali & Beyond or the corresponding hero film: