The Scooter-Trained Dogs of Koh Phangan

My traveling companion and I rented a motorbike in Koh Phangan, a beautiful island in the Gulf of Thailand.  I mean that he rented the motorbike – I just held on for dear life.   I got used to it after a while, and it was a good way to see the island, but what I really liked about it were the passengers it attracted.  These were cute, friendly island dogs, and it looked like they were well taken care of.  But the best thing about them is that they are scooter-trained.  Yes, you read that right.  It happened twice that, while our bike was stopped, a random dog would get on the platform and stand there, waiting for us to take him or her . . . somewhere.  They know exactly where to stand for balance and are expert hitchhikers.

The first time was this dog, a beautiful white one.  Since we were caught off guard, we eventually forced her to get off – but not before posing for a few pictures.

Dog #1:



We thought it was a fluke, but later that day another dog got on our motorbike and did the same thing.  This one was also much more stubborn, and we couldn’t have gotten her off without really pushing.  So we started driving – very slowly – with her on it.  She was really good about it too, staying completely still, tongue flapping in the breeze.  Every once in a while we would stop and make it clear to her that she could get off.  At one point we stopped next to another stray dog, thinking she would like company, but they started growling at each other so we hightailed it out of there.  She got off to stretch her legs when my companion stopped to look at something, but hopped right back on when he mounted the bike.  She finally left us for good when we got to the major town of Thongsala, where there was a pack of stray dogs to welcome her.  We guess this is a normal way for them to get around the island – hitching a ride with humans!

Dog #2:

There are lots of other friendly animals in Koh Phangan. Take, for example, the cat who joined us for dinner at our hotel.


And this lovely lizard.
And don’t forget the elephants!


No, this elephant does not have a disfigured trunk, it just looks that way.


Filed under Asia, cats, dogs, humor, photography, Thailand, travel

9 responses to “The Scooter-Trained Dogs of Koh Phangan

  1. Neil jackson

    Hi mate just seen your photo with the creamy coloured dog. His name is pooch. He use to belong to me when I live there. He was a very sweet dog. I use to ride a vfr 400 there and he use to sit on the tank, he did fall off a few times but he always want to get back on.

    • Neil jackson

      Just 1more thing. Thank you. I had photos from my crazy time living on phangan on a cd but it got accidently thrown out. I always wondered if pooch was ok seeing that photo made me smile and cry. He looked so so well. Thank you again. I go back 2015 Hopefully he still about.

      • Hi Neil, that’s great to hear! Pooch looked very well taken care of, and we even remarked how neat and clean he looked. My friend fell in love with him because he reminded him of a dog he used to have. We were wondering if he had an owner. It seems like a lot of dogs there like to ride with people. Is it common for dogs to ride with strangers? What do they do if they get far from home?

      • Neil jackson

        Hi!! I very happy to be talking with someone who’s met my pooch. Someone brought him as a puppy from Bangkok 5000 baht he look like a European dog and left him with me about 6months later. He lived outside all the time. 2stray dogs befriend him so had 3. Thai dogs v clever. Pooch & others would walk everywhere with me, but if I went out they would stay around my house in ban tai near the 7/11 shop. Some thais say when dog get on bike the dog missing it owner from before.normally European.I believe them. The last time he saw me I was unshaven and not been funny in the right light me and your mate look similar. I showed that photo to my mate and he thought it was me lol. Thailand can be strange sometimes. I know good people there and pooch is liked caz he chilled. I noticed his hair on his face had been cut and his underneath was cut too. His hair not matted and looks like there no tics(big problem out there) so I expect he just hanging around waiting for someone to pat him. I had a 400 cc sports bike and he would jump up trying to get on. Scratch the paint!! But what could I do? He so cute. He’s slipped off the petrol tank loads of times lol. He got knocked down I thought he was dead. I took him to pac. The next day, nothing wrong! He fine???. When was that photo taken?

  2. Neil jackson

    They not all stray. Generally as a rule they stay in an area where they feel safe. If they roam about other dogs attack them. There are “wat” which are temple’s, alot of stray stay there and get fed,the monks look after them,souls in animals, next life ect. Sometimes I would buy a big bag of dog food and give it to a “wat” on the island. Someone brought me a Thai dog they didn’t want no more. She a puppy 1 year old. I called her “u ye”(that’s the sound not spelling). It means rinkle face lol. From the 1st night she stay outside. No chain no rope. She there every morning I open my door she there?!? A cobra bit her on the leg and she die. 1 of the stray dogs I had….this is crazy…. If I was anywhere within 1.5 miles of my house the dog would find me and sit in the jungle just watching me. The behaviour of that dog sometimes left me open mouth many time. The strays you see are looking for a new home. Thais take them on. If they not to dirty, the sad thing is the dirty they are some1 will just kill them caz that’s how it is. No1 wants a dirty dog hanging around. I love dogs, I lived on phangan 6 years lol. Watching dogs over there was eye opening. Their lives are less restrictive than our dogs. They still show alot of their natural dog behaviour but the weird thing is I never had to train my dogs they did everything I asked of them
    . As for pooch. He never go hungry. He can catch snakes frogs lizards, and insects so big I surprised he didn’t get eaten. He is lucky. He got good looks and calm. I miss my dogs like mad and I miss all those dogs that decided to stand in the middle of the road and watch me skid on the sand and have to throw my bike at allsorts of angles to miss the dog only for it move straight away after I’ve passed. Never hit 1 dog. In 6 years.

    • Wow, thanks for all the information! Really interesting stuff. The picture was taken in early September. I only spent a few days in Koh Phangan, wish I could have spent more. It’s a beautiful island.

  3. Neil jackson

    Looks like you do alright in life don’t you, pretty and intelligent to say the least. Maybe if we ever meet you can pat me on my head. Lol

  4. Neil jackson

    Sorry, just one more thing……I just checked you out and your the most sweetest lady i have laid eyes on in years. I’m surprised you haven’t been an extra in “Frazier”, playing yourself. If I was in the states I would be knocking on your door with a bunch of lovely scented flowers in my hand and shouting “Salve unio sum domi! “

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