A Quick Trip to Chengdu
It was a fast trip to Chengdu, the fastest I’ve had in a long time: Up one night (Tuesday) and back the next afternoon (Wednesday).
The only thing that wasn’t fast about it was the road construction. The Sichuan express highway was built 8 years ago and now takes us directly to Chengdu in 3 ½ hours, instead of the previous 8 to 9 hours of weaving through mountainsides on narrow roads and through tiny towns. But the amount of traffic has led to numerous repairs, meaning many times we have one lane open instead of four as workers try to mend the bumps, deep grooves and holes caused by so much heavy road use. One side waits 30 minutes or longer for a turn while the other side crawls slowly by. The back-up is incredible!
For myself, after finishing up classes last Tuesday, I took the last bus to Chengdu at 5:20 p.m. and didn’t arrive until nearly 11 p.m. due to delays. We passengers were all getting quite antsy toward the end, especially after our 1 ½ hours waiting time to move even an inch.
The miles of cars, buses and trucks awaiting their turn to squeeze through the open lane stopped full.
Hundreds of male smokers got off to enjoy their cigarettes. You could see rows of their red lit butts from a distance in the darkness.
Women and children disappeared off into the nearby fields to relieve themselves. Several private car drivers stepped outside to chat with one another in the chilly night air.
I’d have had LF out there for a walk if she’d been with me but this trip was one where I left her behind.
On this trip, Xiao Lao-lao (Little Old) would be coming to Luzhou.
Xiao Lao-lao (Little Old) Comes to Luzhou
For 3 weeks, I’d been searching for a home for our toothless little guy.
I’d asked my Chengdu neighbors from my old apartment complex, even parading LO (Little Old) around as a pity poster dog for everyone to see. Would anyone like a sweet Chihuahua like this one, healthy and ready to go?
I posted videos on Chinese and U.S. sites of Little Old’s plight, and included my name and number.
I’ve been in constant email contact with the Chengdu Economic Daily reporter, Mr. Wu, who has been likewise helping me ask others for a home for LO.
After 3 weekends of visits from me at Dr. Q’s animal hospital, and after 3 weeks of being shut up in a cage, Little Old needed some kind of happy place to hang out.
Where else but with me in Luzhou?
Thus on Wednesday morning, LO received her second round of vaccinations from Dr. Q (we have 2 more to go in the next month), was placed into a new carrier and off we went far to the south to his new home.
Little Brother at Home with Big Sister
I must say, I did have reservations about the greeting Little Old, a younger, male Chihuahua, would get from Little Flower, a very strong Alpha dog personality. LO had visited (without incident) my Chengdu hotel room several times with my dog there but this situation was more of an invasion of a territorial home.
Would there be a problem?
Well, it seems I had nothing to worry about.
Little Flower basically just ignores Little Old even though Little Old would like some contact time.
He’s already explored everything in the apartment. He has his place on one side of the heater while LF has her place on the other. They each have their own feeding stations and their own bedding places but as far as home rule is concerned, that’s definitely Little Flower. She’s already made known by a snap that her toys are off limits, although Little Old isn’t exactly sure what a toy is or what you do with it. He hasn’t had too much experience with playtime.
“No, That’s Not Xiao Hua (Little Flower)”
The dogs’ best interaction time is on walks, where LO happily follows his big sister around everywhere.
Our first day out was on Thursday, a gorgeously warm 70 degrees after we’d been in the cold, overcast 50s for over a week. The campus was abuzz with the fact that the foreign teacher suddenly has two dogs, not one, although I did make announcements to everyone that Little Old needs a home and wasn’t permanently staying with me.
Interestingly enough, there was confusion about which dog was which.
Some thought Little Old was Little Flower. How that could happen was beyond me. LF is a good deal taller, beautiful dazzling coat, strong straight legs and a female.
Little Old is a short, squat thing with bow legs, tongue lolling out due to no jaw or lower teeth, stained fur from outside living and a prominent difference in anatomy I have no idea how anyone could miss.
But Chinese, I have found, aren’t too used to looking at details so there you go.
A Lover All The Way: Entertaining Those On The Sports Field
One thing that endears everyone to Little Old is that fact he’s such a lover. He’ll sidle up to anyone for a belly rub, his little body curled up in a submissive manner for a pet.
The Thursday we spent on the sports’ field proved him to be just such a loving creature among those hanging out on the grass, enjoying the sun.
A happy group of students from Qing Hai University (our branch school) were quite taken by LO. One dog-lover picked him up and cradled him in her arms while her classmates gathered around to pet him. LO closed his eyes, almost drifting off to sleep.
LF, on the other hand, was ready for playtime. She brandished her Frisbee, shaking it with such fervor that a majority wanted to have nothing to do with her. She can sound quite ferocious and aggressive when it comes to play. I could fully understand why they’d much rather extend their attention toward a gentle, sweet, quiet little dog than an overly hyper one
Such a sunny day had also brought out numerous couples to the field. They were wrapped in each other’s arms or stretched out on the grass. The boys rested their heads in the laps of their girlfriends who gently stroked their hair. The boys softly pulled tufts of hair away from their girlfriends’ faces to reveal shy smiles. Heads pressed together in whispers of secret thoughts and feelings.
These kind of open displays used to be forbidden at our school 7 years ago. The guards would go around and pull the students apart, chastising them or writing up their names to be turned in to their head teachers for discipline.
Our school leaders and school rules specifically told the students no male-female relationships were permitted on the campus. None would be tolerated and if caught, you’d suffer the consequences of full humiliating criticism.
Needless to say, it was pretty much a joke among everyone, even the teachers and guards. No one listened much and let things slide, although the students were careful about getting caught.
But now that China has opened more to the outside world, with Net access and movies from around the world, social and cultural customs among young people have changed. Whereas sex and love were secretive topics, and absolutely “no-no”s among students of any age in China, it’s now becoming popular. Relationship newspaper columns and Internet hotlines now are the rage, giving advice to the young and old how to handle their affections. In public, holding hands, touching, kissing (although still not too commonly seen in the open), and hugging are seen and done without reprimand anymore.
Thus on the sports field during nice days, or on beautiful star-filled evenings, you’ll come across the young people out for a lovers’ romantic moment.
No one interrupts these private moments. We all just pass by the boyfriend-girlfriend pairs without a second thought, but when it comes to Little Old, couples on the grass seem to be up for grabs.
Last Thursday, our toothless guy visited every couple for a pet and rub.
Very gently, hands caressed the little dog who flopped on the grass next to them. His tongue fell to the side. His eyes closed. He was obviously in doggie heaven.
One does wonder what kind of sad life he had before. Thank goodness that’s over with, . . . for now, anyway.
The Search for A Luzhou Home
While Chengdu didn’t prove too great a place for finding LO a home, Luzhou is becoming a bit more promising.
Already, I have the elderly couple downstairs who are considering LO as a family member for their grandson. The little boy is about 9 years old and is a very special Chinese child in that he’s not spoiled. He respectfully talks to me often and is just a sweet, well-behaved, well-mannered kid. His visits to Grandma and Grandpa are every other weekend. Sometimes, he spends the week with them and they see him off to school.
His eyes lit up when I said LO had no home and was needing a place to live.
“Do you want a dog?” Grandma asked him and he nodded his head enthusiastically.
“Better ask your mom first,” I suggested and we left it at that.
There are 2 more families as well who are interested. One has a connection with Ci-ci, who is an English teacher here at my college. Ci-ci’s boyfriend’s mother has been by herself for several years after her husband died. Cici believes that the mother might like a little dog to keep her company.
And another possible family is the vice-dean of my department, Marty Li. His wife has seen pictures of LO on the Internet, read his story and seen his video, and feels he might make a good pet for them.
In all cases, LO and his possible adoptees will have to wait a bit because all his vaccinations are not yet completed. He has two more to go, which will all be finished by April 6. Because his immune system is not yet protected against such diseases as distemper or parvovirus, which are common killers among pets in China, I’d rather keep him with me to make 100% sure he’s ready to handle the dog ownership world.
Until then, I’m sure there will be more updates on Xiao Lao-lao (Little Old) and his foster care with me in future blogs.
Here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your week, everyone! Have a great Sunday.