As you all know, I am a huge animal lover.
Stories in past blogs have told of my numerous lost critter rescues. There was Little Old-old (now in America with my parents), abandoned 1-week old Little Ghost (a kitten I found near the US Consulate in Chengdu), another kitty with a nasty gash in his side (now having a happy life with one of my vet’s friends), a couple pathetic stray puppies who had distemper and needed euthanizing, and my own Little Flower who wasn’t in exactly the healthiest state when I got her.
Animals needing help just seem to land in my lap. Even in America, I was the beaming lighthouse for strays. Should it be any different here in China?
Obviously not, as my newest adventure to add to that animal list can attest.
Replaced By a Baby
A week ago, I was freezing after my cold water swim at the No. 6 Middle School. The water isn’t heated and it’s reaching very chilly temperatures. My wetsuit helps keep me from hypothermia but it’s still darn cold! I needed a brisk walk to warm me up so I headed down to our Yangtze branch river, the Tuo Jiang. Along the river is Baizitu Guang Chang (100 Baby Image Square). This is a gigantic, Greek-inspired, open-air amphitheater that has a beautiful view across the riverbank. The square is a favorite place for concerts or other such gatherings, as well as a wonderful area for walking pets or doing exercises.
I hustled a bit further up the road to warm up more and passed a pet store, which doubled as a high-class canine groomer establishment, and then came across a new veterinarian clinic. It was rather large and I wondered when they had set up shop. I didn’t remember it being there when LF and I were here years ago.
I stopped in just for fun and found out they’d been in business for 2 years. I mentioned my little dog I’d had while in the city and how it had always been difficult to find a good vet in Luzhou. Now there are so many. I also added my little dog had died and I was still very sad.
Dr. Mao’s face suddenly brightened.
“Do you want a little dog? I have a little dog here that no one wants. My friend gave it to me.”
A dog? A little dog?
He definitely had my attention.
Naturally, I had to look.
In the back of the clinic, among several large cats in cages and a very sad-looking, paw-injured, HUGE German Shepherd mix, was a little black hairy thing.
He told me she was a Pomeranian, which certainly explained all that hair. Gracious!
He went on to tell me her story. His friend had just had a baby and didn’t want her anymore. It was too much trouble to take care of a dog and a newborn in the house. She was only a year old. Her name as Xiao Guai-guai (Little Cute-cute). What did I think?
Well, all I thought was “Hair!” She had a lot of it, all over the place.
He pulled her out of the cage and handed her to me.
The little thing just melted into my arms. “Love me!” was written all over her sweet face. She just wanted cuddles and pets and lots of lap time with someone.
“How long has she been here?” I asked.
He said 2 weeks so far. He wasn’t having any success in finding her a home. Everyone wants puppies, not older dogs. I told him I couldn’t have a dog but I would come for a visit and take her for a walk the next day.
Before leaving, I spent more time petting her while she crashed in her cage, closing her eyes and enjoying the facial massage I was giving her.
As I got up to depart, she jumped on the cage bars to watch me go but didn’t make a sound. She was a very quiet, gentle soul with a lovely disposition.
It was heartbreaking to see her in that cage all by herself. Someone needed to have that dog who would take good care of her, but who?
Finding A Family for Cute-cute
I carefully thought about this for the next 4 days when I visited the clinic.
After my frigid pool swims, I’d trot down to the animal hospital and take Cute-cute for a walk.
Her nails were horrendously long. Someone had not taken good care of her feet. And her coat was very untidy. She definitely needed a good shampooing and shaping. A visit to the groomers was in order but the vet cautioned me against this. Our 1-year-old also hadn’t had any vaccinations at all. He thought she might get some diseases from the dogs that were already there.
By the 4th day, Cute-cute knew me quite well and eagerly awaited our walking time. Such a perfect starter dog for someone!
And after those 4 days of pondering, I had just the person in mind: “Marty” Li, a former English teacher in our department who is now working on the 2nd floor in school administration.
The Li Family – A Possibility?
Marty, his wife Andy (a high school English teacher) and their daughter Lucy (8 years old) had been discussing a dog for several years. If you remember, I was looking for a home for Little Old and Marty’s family was the first I tried. At that time, his daughter was 4 years old and a complete terror –a whirlwind of activity, LOUD and a rather ornery little thing.
When we turned our backs on her, the little girl took a pair of scissors to Little Old’s ears.
That’s when I abruptly ended our visit. Definitely no home for Little Old here.
But now the girl is older and Marty said they had been thinking about getting a dog. He’d never raised a dog before, nor knew anything about training one or how to take care of it. I knew right away Cute-cute, who loved kids and other dogs when we walked, plus was healthy and polite, would be just right for a 1st dog family.
Yesterday evening, I called Marty and told him about our little black Pomeranian. She was so sweet. Could he and his wife come and take a look at her?
We made a meeting time of 3 p.m. at the clinic. Marty and Andy would come first to take a look. If they liked her, we could discuss options for them. Dr. Mao was also very willing to allow them take a look at her. I think he was somewhat relieved to have me helping him out in this venture. Always hard to find an older dog a good home.
Dear Lord, Let It Be So!
All through church this morning, I prayed for Cute-cute to find himself home. I had this odd feeling that God had a purpose in sending me down to the river last week after swimming. This might have been it.
I arrived a tad earlier than Marty and Andy. I was able to bring Cute-cute out to the entrance to wait for them.
She was, as always, a mass of hair.
I was concerned about that and wished I’d taken her to the groomers beforehand. She didn’t present a very gorgeous, manageable image of a dog. Chinese don’t like a lot of hair all over them. Of course, neither do most Americans. Big hair on a dog is daunting for anyone but especially for first-time dog owners.
Marty and Andy approached with eagerness. They were smiling as they came but an ever-so-slight change in their expressions gave me a clue to what they were thinking: “Oh, my gosh! That dog has a LOT of hair.”
And she hadn’t been brushed in a few days so it was clumping. While stroking her as they peered down at the dog in my arms, I pulled out several hefty tufts of hair.
However, I didn’t let that stop me from touting her praises, how gentle she was, how much she loved children and other dogs, and how sad it was that she was deserted by her family for a baby.
As we walked around the square, I pointed out the nearby groomers and how often she probably should go. They shouldn’t concern themselves dealing with all that hair and let the pros do it. That’s what most Chinese did and they could be the same. The groomers, for an all-round beauty treatment, cost 80 yuan ($13). I had checked already. And the pet store had everything they’d need. I also had LF’s unopened food bag that was a pricey, excellent brand. I could give that to them and it would last for 2 months or more.
Keen Interest Arises
The more I talked, the more questions they asked about pet care. Obviously, they were interested. I could hardly believe it! Were they really going to make such a quick decision about taking her?
We next stopped in at the groomers. I suggested they ask the experts about caring for a long-haired dog and her upkeep. After discussing this with the young shop women present, Marty piped up, “Well, we should have her taken care of now to see what she looks like.”
Off Cute-cute went into the arms of the masked groomers. Among other yapping dogs of all sizes in cages, Little Cute-cute was about to get a beauty makeover fit for the movie stars.
Cute-cute Gets Her Make-over
Andy had to leave us right before 4 p.m. Classes for junior high and high school students always take place on Sunday early afternoon, meaning Andy had classes to teach. She took the bus back to her school, leaving Marty with the car to take Cute-cute home.
As we two waited, Marty and I cruised the aisles of the pet supply store to buy much-needed items. Their new family addition needed a good brush for her hair. We found one. She needed a bed. We picked a pretty, soft, flowered blue one. I had the food, an extra travel carrier and the leash which I was very happy to hand over.
We stood outside the gated area and watched our black Pomeranian get her nails clipped, her shampoo and cut. She didn’t make a sound when those ½ inch-long nails came off, one after another after another.
One particularly difficult nail had curled in circles around itself, like a snail shell. This really upset the dog washers. The lead groomer growled about that nail to the younger gals, saying it would be difficult to deal with. The 3 of them surrounding Cute-cute, inspecting the disgusting “snail”, then looked at us as if it were our fault.
I explained it wasn’t really our dog but Marty was going to adopt it from someone else. That family had caused the problem, not us.
I don’t think they believed me.
A New Look Makes A New Dog
The wait for her transformation was agonizing! It took an hour for them to fix her up, she was in that bad a shape.
I fidgeted in a chair, craning to see behind the glassed in grooming area 10 feet away from me.
“Take it easy!” Marty laughed. “All ladies need time to look pretty. She’ll be out soon.”
When she finally emerged, a pink sparkly flower barrette on her forehead, she looked amazing! All that horrendous, poofy, unkempt, wild hair gone. In its place was a little fuzzy body, wiggling to get into the arms of her new owner.
Marty took her carefully from the lead groomer, gave her a big sniff and grinned.
“Oh! She really smells nice. Much better than before.”
Departing for A New Home
We walked back to the clinic with Cute-cute excitedly prancing along. She was very happy to have all that hair gone. Plus I’m sure it felt wonderful to walk along without long nails click-clacking against the sidewalk and disrupting her gait.
Dr. Mao said if there was a problem, bring her back. He also mentioned that she was a special breed, a black Pomeranian and not the golden lion kind. Her price as a puppy had been 2,000 yuan ($375). He was giving us to her for free.
I was stunned at the original cost.
For that price, her owners should have taken better care of her grooming needs, from her horrible nails to her rather gunky teeth. Abandoning such an expensive, sweet, lovely little dog for a baby at home? Not nice.
Final Decision Yet To Come
Marty, Cute-cute and I headed over to my apartment at the college so I could give him the things I’d promised. I gave Marty a few more hints about dog care and suggested he get on the Net. He planned to do that right away.
A dog is a big responsibility, even a sweet one like Cute-cute. These next few days will tell if the Li Family feel they are ready for such a task. All I can do is send lots of little, encouraging prayers their way, hoping all goes well for everyone.
From along the Yangtze River, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day. And don’t forget to vote!