Along with other members of the Thai royal family, King Bhumibol Adulyadej has a number of pet dogs, but one pet in particular has a heart-warming story attached.
In 1998, a stray Bangkok dog was taken in by a medical centre in Bangkok and had a litter of puppies. After the Thai king visited the medical centre he adopted a dog from the litter. That dog was called ‘Tong Daeng’ (‘Copper’) and was soon to become a favourite of the Thai monarch and would go on to have her own litter of puppies which would become part of the royal household.
Tong Daeng is praised by the king for her loyalty, manners and intelligence and he once said, ‘Tong Daeng is a common dog who is uncommon’. When the king left hospital after a minor operation in 2002 he wore a t-shirt with the image of Tong Daeng and her puppies. This sparked a fashion craze in Thailand with the public buying up Tong Daeng t-shirts as soon as they went on sale. Similar scenes followed when the Thai king published his book, ‘The Story of Tong Daeng’ which became an instant best-seller in 2002. This was followed up with an animated version of the book in 2004 which became even more popular than the original version and numerous reprints were required to satisfy demand. The book itself stressed how Tong Daeng despite coming from a lowly background was still intelligent, respectful and well-behaved. The book struck a chord with many ordinary Thais, but some media analysts also interpreted a message aimed at certain politicians in Thailand.
Tong Daeng has also featured on a limited edition set of stamps and her own DVD. Profits from the Tong Daeng books and DVDs have gone to the king’s charities.
Photo Credit: Care for Dogs