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Photo by Sampor Burke, Mekong Semester.

Deedo

I think I have finally found a dog my mom would let us have.

My little sister has been asking for a dog for years. My mom isn’t totally opposed. We can have a dog, as long as the dog doesn’t poop, bark, shed, or smell bad. And I’ve found him. His name is Deedo.

Deedo lives on an island in the middle of the Mekong River, in a Lao village called Ban Don Dong. His short, brown and white hair is puckered with scars from a childhood fighting other dogs in the streets. Or, rather, street. There is only one street on this island, and then some dirt paths and rice farms.

In spite of his haggard appearance, Deedo is the gentlest, sweetest dog around. On my first afternoon in Ban Don Dong, I lying in a hammock in my homestay family’s front yard, reading, when Deedo quietly approached. I reached out to pet his head, and he nuzzled up to my hand and closed his eyes, peaceful and relaxed. When I returned to my book, he rested his head on my lap, asking for more attention, so I went back to slowly petting his head while I read. Now, whenever I read in the hammock, he runs up to greet me, sometimes for petting and sometimes just to sleep by my side. Deedo and I are friends.

The other morning, I went for a 5:30 am run (this is becoming more common with me). Not wanting to just run along the one street, I ran to where the road turns to a dirt path and then rice fields. There, I spotted Deedo, shining amongst the golden stalks. Deedo noticed me running and started to run ahead of me, looking back occasionally to make sure I was following. And I did. Deedo’s a significantly faster runner than I am, in case you hadn’t guessed, but he’d periodically stop to wait for me to catch up. He led me down a series of smaller, shadier paths, bringing me to cooler, flatter, more open running trails. I could never recreate his route on my own.

When I was tired and Deedo had found another dog to distract him, I decided to turn back. I’d run maybe 50 feet when Deedo sprinted past my knees, abandoning his kin in order to guide me home.

We arrived back at my homestay house together. My homestay mom laughed when I told here Deedo ran with me.

One afternoon, I decided to go swimming at the beach with most of the group. Deedo spotted us leaving and followed, acting as my personal body guard. He kept up with us along the mile walk through the rice fields. When we reached the beach, he sat nearby, and when we went in the water, he followed.

The water only goes up to your shins near the shore. Reaching a good swimming spot requires hopping two mini islands. So we set off, and Deedo swam behind. He guarded me all the way across the islands and all the way back to the house. My homestay mom laughed harder when I told her Deedo swam.

I think Deedo might be my direwolf. I’m sure my mom could be talked into having s direwolf as a family pet.

That brings me back to my original point. Deedo meets all my mom’s dog-related needs.

a) Deedo doesn’t poop.
I’ve never seen it happen. I’ve never found any Deedo droppings around the yard either. Nobody walks him, as he has free rein of the island. If he does poop, it must be in the rice fields. If that is the case, then he wouldn’t poop near my house — there are no rice fields near my house.

b) Deedo doesn’t shed.
Deedo lives outside 100% of the time. If he sheds, his hair couldn’t possibly get on any couches. But I’ve never seen him shed, either, so I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happen.

c) Deedo doesn’t bark.
I must admit that there is one exception to this rule. The other night, I came back to the house so late the streetlights had turned off (aka 9:10 pm). Deedo heard me but couldn’t see me, so he barked once. In response, I called “Deedo, Deedo!” At the sound of my voice, he calmed and ran up to receive petting. So as long as there are no suspicious late-night intruders, Deedo doesn’t bark.

d) Deedo doesn’t smell bad.
Well… he doesn’t smell *that* bad. And he lives outside. It’s fine.

I’m not saying my family should adopt Deedo. He seems quite happy here, and his food is top-notch, basically gourmet (I know because he eats my leftovers). I’m just saying that my family’s ideal dog exists, and I’ve found him. He lives in Laos.

Ariel.