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Last Updated: Friday, 12 November, 2004, 10:08 GMT
Thai king celebrates dog in comic
By Tony Cheng
BBC, Bangkok

King Bhumibol Adulyadej with Tongdaeng (2002)
The king adopted Tongdaeng as a stray
A comic book has been launched in Thailand, written by the king and detailing the life of his favourite pet dog.

An initial run of 100,000 editions went on sale on Friday, with a second 100,000 currently being printed to meet the anticipated high demand.

The story is thought to be a homily to Thais about how they should live their lives.

The king wields considerable influence, and some even see him as god-like.

The tale of Tongdaeng, or Copper as she is known, is a familiar one to Thais. Taken from the streets as a stray puppy, she was raised in the Royal Palace by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. She is now said to be his constant companion, accompanying him throughout his daily routine.

The king first published a book about her in 2002.

The latest book opens with the mongrel puppy's introduction into the Royal Household and explains how she won the king's trust and affection through her good character.

The king has often referred to Tongdaeng's qualities of humility and loyalty as ones that Thais should aspire to.

This comic book is intended to spread that message further amongst his subjects. However, commentators have noted that a deeper subtext may lie behind this simple tale, and it has been suggested that the message of humility is one which is subtly directed at certain politicians, who may have forgotten their humble origins.

King Bhumibol, the world's longest reigning monarch, is deeply revered in Thailand. Since ascending to the throne in 1946, he has ruled over 20 prime ministers, 16 constitutions and 17 coups. He is now 75.

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