2011 Bark-in-the-Park, Here We Come!

                Of course, the church visits and presentations have kept me pretty busy during my time in Illinois but one event that couldn’t be missed was Terre Haute’s annual Bark-in-the-Park.

A Recap: Our Chinese Chihuahua Immigrant

           In Marshall, Illinois, most of the residents know of our family’s Sichuan earthquake-zone rescue dog, Xiao Lao-lao (shee-ow l-ow l-ow,), translated into English as Little Old-old.

         I found him 2 years ago after the Sichuan earthquake on the streets of China in Chengdu city while he was digging through garbage. His coat was dirty and his body emaciated, definitely telling signs of a stray, but what drew me to him was his flapping chin. He had no lower jaw due to a previous injury and no upper teeth, which myU.S. vet later attributed to periodontal disease. Only a few back teeth remained, giving him some ability to chew but not much.

      This sad-looking Chihuahua was just too pitiful for me to pass by.

       I scooped him up and a trip to my Chinese veterinarian had him in good shape after a 3- week hospital stay. Vaccinations, de-worming, neutering and a healthy diet transformed him into a lovable 5-pound companion that anyone would be proud to call his own.

       Although his age was estimated at a young 2 or 3 years old, I named him Little Old-old in Chinese due to his missing teeth, which reminded me of an elderly person.  It was a cute name and he had an even cuter personality, one I thought would surely win him a loving home among the Chinese.

       Yet the search for a home inChina didn’t fair well.

       After posting bi-lingual videos on the Net, inviting a Chinese reporter to do a newspaper article on him, trying him out at two possible homes, and asking among my neighbors, colleagues and friends, Little Old was still without a family who wanted him. My own dog, Little Flower, was too jealous for me to have a 2-dog household so it was on to Plan B: America! 

         He was immediately adopted by my mom and dad, who have been caring for him all this time.  Despite my absence, he still remembers me and is always happy to see me upon my return to my parents’ house.  This summer has been no different.

Attending the Annual Bark-in-the-Park in the city of Terre Haute, Indiana

                Terre Haute’s Bark-in-the-Park, now in its third year, was hosted jointly by the Terre Haute Humane Society and Young Leaders Program as one of their major fund raisers for the year. Half the proceeds went to the Young Leaders organization for their mini-grant programs.  The other half went toward the Terre Haute Humane Society for their many animal needs. 

               A small portion was also given in memory of Police Officer Brent Long, killed on duty just a short time ago in a tragic shooting.  His trusted K-9 unit member, a hefty German Shepherd, was injured severely but came through with flying colors.  Honoring his fallen master with a donation to Officer Long’s dedication and sacrifice was deamed a fitting tribute to police officers everywhere and the dangers they face to make our country, towns and cities safe.

             Just like last year, dogs and dog owners were invited to the city’s Fairbanks Park for a 3-mile walk, beginning at 10:15 a.m. Registration was $15 for each walker but dogs were free. A complimentary breakfast was also provided for those participating.  We had great biscuits and gravy, along with bananas and granola bars.  Free water was available, as much as you wanted, to carry along for your dog or yourself. 

            For our $15 fee, we also received a Bark-in-the-Park T-shirt and a bag full of doggie treats.  This year’s goodies were a dog water dispenser, numerous home-made dog biscuits, a toy frisbee, discounts at local pet stores and a rather large pooper scooper.  For us, the pooper scooper was a bit much.  Lao-lao doesn’t have enough waste in him to even come close to filling that thing but I’m sure we can find a good use for it somehow.

This Year’s Trekking Event

           Last year’s temperatures soared into the high 90s but this year, we lucked out with overcaste skies.  It was still fairly muggy, which sent quite a few doggies into the water tubs to cool off, but for the most part, it was a pleasant jaunt we took around the park walkways. 

             To make the 3-mile limit, we circled the park twice. Last year, Lao-lao ended up being carried most of the way due to the heat but this time around, he managed quite well and held his own.   He trotted right along on his leash with pride and a fascinated interest in all his canine buddies. 

               His little legs, however, were just a tad too short to catch up with everyone.  Lao-lao ended up at the back of the pack, along with several other physically challenged pooches.  We met up with a gentleman who had 3 dogs, one with a missing leg due to being hit by a car.   A wheel-chaired individual was also present.  In solidarity with her doggie friends, she made sure they received enough water from her cup any time they were thirsty.

Another Bark-in-the-Park Ends

              By 11:15, the entire event was over.  The staff were already packing things up and loading trucks with tables, chairs and equipment when we called it quits.  Most of the other participants had already taken off as well.

               Although our second time around, we still had a great deal of fun.  I know I wasn’t sorry I’d attended and I don’t think Lao-lao was, either.  He was the perfect little dog who zipped along with as much energy and happiness as his 4-legged American colleagues, even if he wasn’t as fast.  For a little Chinese dog, a former battered and mistreated stray from the streets of Chengdu, he certainly held his own.  As we say in China:  “Jia yo-oh!” ( Go-go!)   Bravo, Little Old-old!  You made us proud.

                  Until next entry, here’s Ping An (peace) for your day.

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About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 18 years as an English language teacher. 13 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my second year in Guangxi Province at the 3-year college, Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. The college is located in smalltown longzhou, 1 hour from the Vietnam border.
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