Everytime I am about to go on holiday and visit the travel doctor for vaccines, malaria tablets and so on, they always drum into you, how you should never, never, ever, ever touch the animals in a foreign country due to the risk of rabies.
Now I for one always avoid the captive animals such as monkeys and other exotic creatures captured for the tourist trade. Thats something I will not entertain in whatever form. But domestic cats and dogs are a different story. I have often found myself in a restaurant in places such as Indonesia and more recently in Laos where you cannot avoid a cat looking for a warm lap and a soft touch.
Recently in Laos, while waiting for a meal to arrive a rather sweet young cat was up on the table, in my face, insisting on being stroked. I’d just washed my hands prior to dinner so I spent a few minutes, stroking it with my elbows.
In Indonesia some years ago, it seemed like every time we’d go to dinner we’d end up with a local cat on our lap, not after food, just looking for a bit of company.
Likewise the dogs, who apparently are all rabid according to the travel doctor.
At Wat Phu, I’d plonked myself down on a rock (ok, it was a piece of ancient temple) waiting for the others to return. A dog came over, I didn’t pay much attention until she started pushing herself against my leg and nudging my hands. She was so insistant that I stroke her, I couldn’t refuse – I used my knuckles (thats not really touching, right?). I stopped a couple of times but nudge, nudge, she wasn’t done yet, even if I was. She finally headed off once she was done, and I admired my now dusty red knuckles.
Then there are the buffalo you have to avoid in the rice paddies, the cows in the coffee fields (or on the streets in places like India).
To me, they all add to the colour of the place and make for some great photo opportunities, even the reptiles and bugs which are often very different to what you see at home.