Lucky Dog

My mom and I were having a conversation the other night when I interrupted her to say something a bit like this…

“Mom, I met someone last Friday night!”

“Ooh?!” (My mother has a very eloquent “Ooh?!”)

“Yes, he came right up to me and he was sooo cute!”

“Where were you?”

“The everything store. I just couldn’t resist him. He had these dark eyes and we just sort of connected like kindred spirits. He came right up to me and started kissing me. I almost decided to take him home with me, in spite of the fact that my room is total mess…”

“So it was a bunny?” (My mother knows me all too well.)

“No, a dog. A really really cute puppy!”

He’d just dashed into the store as if he owned it, and began lavishing tons of affection on me. The guys in the store ended up chasing him a bit when he ventured to explore the back, and told me that he wasn’t their dog, so if I wanted him, I could take him. I realized he was indeed a stray when my hand turned black from petting him. Poor doggie. They said he was a puppy, but probably wouldn’t grow too much bigger.

I had visions of being motivated to go out for walks and wake up in the mornings… Then practicalities started to intrude– I rent out a (currently extremely messy) room, and don’t really know the landlady’s policy on dogs. I’m also afraid that I might be allergic (I’ve given up on ever being able to own a cat). Also, I had a total of 70NT (around two US dollars) on me, since I was a dork and forgot to pay a visit to the magical money machine. So I didn’t really have enough to buy dinner, a leash, and dog shampoo… It was also too late to take him to a vet for a check-up and he probably had fleas (dogs who reach over and nibble their sides are probably nibbling for fleas, right?)

I was contemplating on the logistics of getting him up to my apartment with me, and not freaking him out by shutting him up in a room then leaving the poor puppy while I ran off for money and the above necessities. Then, lo and behold, the smart dog went to venture out to the sidewalk again and met another girl, who after inquiring as to whether he belonged to anyone, slung him over the scooter seat sandwiched between her and her boy and took him home.

Upon some research, I think he was a Taiwan dog mix, (this website’s description claims they have psychic powers of communication), though he was sandy-haired. Half a week later, I decided I would have named him “Lucky” (to quote the guys in the store after the girl took him home).

As my mom mentioned, our family seems to be attractive to stray dogs. On one of our walks with my grandfather to the park in Tainan, my two cousins ended up getting followed by three friendly strays. As the house already had three or four dogs (two or three of which had been rescued from the streets I think), they were forbidden to have more. So the three dogs followed us down the slides, sidewalks, and finally my cousins went to my aunt’s house leaving them around the front door while they slipped out the back and came back to my grandfather’s house. The only dog owned by that side of the family here now is the ultra-cute Shao Hei (which means “little black” when the dog is snowy white, but it’s something of a joke.)

Then there was the dog that led us through Guandu Nature park who was just a friendly tour guide for us this fall. He seemed quite at home and content there.

Though I have seen a few stray dogs in the park, there are certainly less stray animals than I remember when I was visiting Taiwan ten years ago. There seem to be more active animal protection policies in place–from what I hear there is a spaying and neutering program. When I arrived back in Taiwan this fall, I spent a while in the airport waiting for my ride and saw a little promotional video kiosk by the Taiwan government which was essentially a PR piece on the great new conditions of shelters for stray animals in Taiwan. At the time, I found it rather random, but apparently there has been cause for outcry in the abuse of strays by animal control here in the past.

According to this article, some stray dogs are being eaten. When I was in Korea, one of my fellow ex-pat colleagues was taken out for dog soup and learned that there dogs are bred specifically for food and are drugged up and killed in a way that is extremely stressful for the dog, since the hormones or chemicals released by a stressed dog were… um… supposed to be an enhancement for… uhh… “stamina.” My roommates also told me that they’ve heard about restaurants that have dog meat on the menu. I think it’s supposed to be marketed as “fragrant meat” (shiang rou) or something like that.

My mother also cautioned me that if I had taken the dog, I wouldn’t have been able to return to the US with it. However, after some research, taking a dog back to the US turns out to be a decently painless process.

Here is an article about a group doing research into where stray dogs in Taiwan can be found.

If you’d like to adopt an animal or learn how to care for your animals, AnimalsTaiwan has a lot of information.

Dogs in Taiwan seems to have information for the Taiwanese dog owner, like vet links and dog playgrounds, though I think the Bow Wow Cafeteria closed. (I used to walk by it and find it vaguely amusing to see the dogs gamboling in the windows.)

Oh, and regarding the bunny my mother mentioned? I am acquainted with a rescued rabbit that’s available to a good home. Drop me a comment or an e-mail if you’re longing for a friendly rabbit.

And Lucky– I hope you’re happy and spoiled in a real family who treats you like a prince amongst dogs, since it couldn’t work out between us… sniff. I suppose I’ll just dog-watch in the park, maybe we’ll run into each other again some day.


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Free Rice

January 2008
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