She had made some rice that morning and it was steaming hot. So, she spooned some into the bowls. Then the dogs crowded around her as they tried getting to the food. But something wasn’t right. Why wasn’t Tua Plu among them? Her eyes searched for him among the other dogs. Then, fear crept down her spine when she saw him. There was something in his mouth, which left her shaken to the core.
Orawan Kaewla-iat had a daily routine. She cooked rice for a bunch of stray dogs in her neighborhood in Krabi, Thailand. She was living at the City Police’s housing, but it was only temporary. This worried her. Who would look after the dogs after she moved? She was particularly concerned for Tua Plu. Unlike his brethren, Tua Plu was in a class of his own.
Kaewla-iat had bonded with the dog she named Tua Plu, which in English means “Winged Bean.” She gave him that name because he was always such a cheerful dog with a temperament that was oh-so endearing. Both he and his mother waited patiently for their chance to eat just like they did every other day. But then he did something that would ensure she never forgot about him.
In Thailand, dogs without collars get taken to be euthanized. So, Kaewla-iat put a collar on Tua Plu’s neck so he would be safe out there. Kaewla-iat had always been fond of animals, which is why she couldn’t stand seeing a stray go hungry. So, she made sure she fed and cared for as many animals as possible. But being a street dog wasn’t easy.
Stray dogs continued to arrive at her proverbial doorstep every day, and they were starving. Some of them were wild because they were born on the streets. Other dogs were abandoned by their owners. So, people were moved by Kaewla-iat’s efforts. But not everyone in the neighborhood was happy with what Kaewla-iat was doing. As far as they were concerned, there was no disparity between vermin and stray dogs.
Kaewla-iat knew everyone would leave Tua Plu alone as long as he had a collar on. No one would report him, at least she hoped so. She also figured the collar would ensure that he wasn’t the victim of animal cruelty. But sadly, there were people out there who could have cared less about dogs.
Then, one day, Tua Plu and his mother failed to show up as Kaewla-iat prepared to feed the strays. This worried her. Had something happened to them overnight? The streets were not safe for animals. But she tried not to let fear win. But even as she waited, they never arrived. This was very odd. By that point, her concern over the dogs’ welfare grew considerably.
She looked everywhere to see if she could find the slightest trace of the two stray dogs. She even knocked on doors and asked around to see if anyone had seen “Winged Bean” and his mom. She described their facial markings and cream coats. But no one seemed to know what she was talking about, let alone the whereabouts of the missing dogs.
Her search turned up nothing, so Kaewla-iat went home to see if Tua Plu and his mom had rejoined the others in the feeding area. Unfortunately, there was no trace of either of them, which made her very sad. Then, she noticed a dog with a cream-colored coat, and she knew right away that Tua Plu had returned. He wagged his tail as he approached her, but there was something in his mouth.
Tua Plu’s body swayed from side to side as he wagged his tail and approached Kaewla-iat. He had a gift in his mouth, and it was just for her. Then, he walked up to the bowl of rice and dropped the item right in front of it. Then he waited to see how she would respond.
Kaewla-iat studied the item cautiously. It was wet and green. Then it dawned on her that he was waiting for her to respond. It turns out that it was a leaf, but from his perspective, it was his way of saying thanks for the bowl of rice. He totally understood that if someone gives you something, the rules of “exchange” dictated that you had to give something back. This moved her.
From that point on, Tua Plu brought Kaewla-iat gifts in exchange for food. “When he’s hungry, he will offer something to get fed. Every day he shows up with an object in his mouth — usually a leaf and sometimes a piece of paper. Before you feed other dogs, you have to feed Tua Plu and his mom,” Kaewla-iat said.
Kaewla-iat posted a video on Facebook of Tua Plu exchanging gifts for food, and it went viral. Soon enough, people from all around the globe fell in love with the adorable dog. Some folks have even shown interest in adopting him. So, she’s no longer afraid that Tua Plu will be all alone when it’s time for her to move to a new place.
Meanwhile, Kaewla-iat’s video reached over 3 million views. Tua Plu wasn’t just popular in Thailand, but all over the world too. The level of gratitude that Tua Plu showed in the video left everyone speechless. Given all the attention the video received, it’s only a matter of time before he and his mom find a forever home.
“Winged Bean’s” video has also shone a light on the everyday struggles that stray dogs face. This has inspired folks to help animals in distress. Meanwhile, the gratitude this pup showed was heartwarming, and he continues to bring Kaewla-iat gifts every day. Does this story make you want to help a stray animal?