Dogs on our campus are forbidden. It’s a long-standing rule of the school. This is a protection to students and our staff plus their families who live here.
Dogs in most rural areas of China, whether pets or strays, are rarely inoculated or properly cared for. Pet ownership is still a new concept in China so vaccinations, or vaccination upkeep, are not taken too seriously. Nor is spending money for a sick animal on the priority list, especially when it’s hard to find a vet and finances are low.
Here in Longzhou, there is no veterinarian. The nearest ones are 3 hours away, in Nanning, and even those it’s hard to trust.
There are still few trained professional vets in China, most being quacks who set up a clinic and say they are animal care experts in order to make a living. In actuality, they’ve perhaps taken some courses on animal husbandry yet don’t have a clue what they are doing. Most animals die under their inexperienced hands while their unsuspecting owners hand over big bucks thinking their pets are in safe hands.
Rabies is also prevalent in this country. Over 2,000 human deaths are reported inChina every year (a majority being children) due to rabid dog bites.
So you can see where our campus authorities are concerned about having dogs on our campus. Thus the “no dogs” rule.
The Foreigner Gets Special Treatment
Two years ago, Amity offered this school a foreign teacher but explained that I had a dog. Is it permissible to have the dog on campus?
Not willing to lose the opportunity of an Amity teacher, the officials said not a problem. But in actuality, they were bending the rules for me.
Yes, Connie can have her dog but no one else can.
Granted, my dog has all her yearly vaccinations, is trained and well cared for. I have it all: Vitamin supplements, heartworm doses, fungus shampoo, flea repellant, pain meds, doggie stomach antacids, canine nail filer, not to mention all the other emergency supplies in my possession. All of these things I brought with me and keep well stocked in my Little Flower drawer.
In other words, my dog is decidedly different from what my neighbors would have or could have available for their own pet care options.
But that doesn’t stop people from looking at me with envy, and longing, thinking, “Well, that’s not fair. The foreigner has a dog. Why can’t I?”
Our first dog ownership rebel on campus was Amy, the little girl who visits me every Saturday afternoon.
Amy’s father is a security guard at our front gate. He sits all day, making sure those coming and going are students or staff members. He has both day duties and night duties. He also lives in our school’s workers’ housing unit, which is certainly small and nothing as plush as what the teachers get but it is on campus.
After seeing how much fun I had with Little Flower, Amy and her dad decided to get a dog, too. Despite the rules, they figured if I had a dog, so could they.
They had a young mutt which often came with Amy for our Saturday afternoon visits. I’d shut up my jealous Little Flower in the back bedroom and Amy’s puppy would hang out with us until it was time to go.
I knew it was only a matter of time before the dog died.
They never leashed their canine and it was always wandering around outside the school gate, crossing our busy roads numerous times. It also had no vaccinations. Parvo virus and distemper are prevalent inChinaand big dog killers.
Then we have poisoning.
So many people leave out deadly rat pellets or food laced with poison to get rid of rodents. A passing dog or cat often chows down such things. My students are always telling me about how their own pets in the countryside died in this way so that’s why they don’t have them anymore. It was too emotionally upsetting.
And that is exactly what happened to Amy’s 7-month old.
As mentioned before, when I came back from winter break, Amy showed up at my doorstep without her pooch in tow.
“It died,” she said, smiling with little concern. “It ate poison.”
I’m sure she felt horrible when it happened but, being Chinese, she knew these things happen often in her country. Move on and forget about it.
And with one rebel, there’s always another to follow.
My neighbor lady has always been an animal lover. She took care of a stray mamma kitty with her babies for quite some time before Mamma lost her kittens. Sometimes, I see her feeding the many strays outside by dishing out leftover food.
She has her daughter and son-in-law who live with her, as well as her ailing husband.
I’m not sure what position she held at our school but it was probably some sort of office work. She is retired yet is still allowed to live in staff housing.
A few weeks ago, for the Tomb Sweeping Festival holidays, I heard barking coming from her apartment, as did all the rest of our building. (The puppy was pretty loud.)
At first, I thought it was a relative visiting with their pet. I figured they’d be gone after the holiday ended.
But that wasn’t the case.
My neighbor and her family now have themselves a golden retriever puppy, about 3 months old, which is obviously staying. It’s a female and certainly looks full-bred which leads me to believe they purchased her inNanning. (I’m sure for a very hefty sum, too, into the hundreds or thousands of dollars. I asked but didn’t get an answer.)
Chinese who have money, and are into pet ownership, like the pure breeds. Females are especially desirable because they can be bred and the babies sold for a profit.
Large dogs also are a bonus in the south. I know this sounds awful but remember, dogs are eaten in the rural south. Big dogs bring a lot more money as they’re certainly meatier. There’s a lot more of a 70-pound dog to stir fry than a little 10-pounder, such as myChihuahua.
I’m sure my neighbors, fervent dog lovers, are not going to eat their dog nor will they sell future puppies to be throw into the cooking pot. I’m just stating what usually happens to big dogs here that are not beloved pets.
Puppy Comes for A Visit
It’s obvious to me that my neighbors are taking very good care of their puppy, whose name is Yuan-yuan. Yuan-yuan is always well-groomed. She goes out for romps around the grass when someone has time to take her out. They are teaching her good manners, such as not to jump on the little children. And she is definitely well-fed, probably too much so as she’s a bit on the pudgy side.
She’s also a bit on the noisy side, barking and whining when no one is home, but so are all puppies at her age.
Does she have her vaccinations? That I don’t know.
Is she ever leashed? Not that I’ve seen. Nor does she have a collar to keep her from wandering around, eating things she shouldn’t.
Perhaps it is only a matter of time before this cute little one, too, is no longer with us.
And she is cute!
On my return shopping trip yesterday, I had my door open while I was carrying in groceries. My neighbor’s door was likewise open and over gallops Yuan-yuan for a visit.
She barreled across the stairwell, wiggling her way across the floor with puppy wags and subservient belly crawls. Into my door she came, sniffing excitedly to explore this new environment.
Naturally, Little Flower was very upset by the visitor. She is not good at sharing anything, including her space. She stood at a safe distance from this large interloper, positioned herself on the couch and continuously barked high-pitched warnings of “Enter Not Here!”.
Yuan-yuan paid her no mind.
Then our puppy found the prize: Little Flower’s toy basket, piled high with squeakies, balls and stuffed animals.
Oh, what fun! So many things to play with! And there being so many, Yuan-yuan decided she’d just take one for her own use.
Grabbing up the large, stuffed toy di, she took off with it to show her own family what she’d found. Little Flower was in hot pursuit but stopped at my neighbor’s door. She sullenly returned without her plaything, not at all happy.
Next door, we were all laughing at Yuan-yuan, shaking her find and proudly parading it about the apartment. I’d have let her keep it except that it’s one of Little Flower’s favorites. So I exchanged it for a squeaky bone, which I announced was her welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift.
Two Big Dogs on Campus? Not if Little Flower Has a Say
So now we have two dogs at our school, one right across the stairwell from the other. Little Flower has always been big dog on campus so I’m not quite sure she’s going to take so well to having another, bigger dog around to contend with.
Not to worry, though. Our entire campus is moving next year to the new campus in Chongzuo, meaning Little Flower and I will be moving as well. We most likely won’t be in Chongzuo, but at another school Amity deems fit for us. She can be top dog there.
In the meantime, I guess she’ll just have to get used to sharing.
From Longzhou, here’s wishing youPingAn (peace) for your day.