Tales from Dr. Mao’s Veterinarian Clinic

         A few days ago, I popped in to visit Dr. Mao and his colleagues, Dr. Zhang and Dr. Huang, at their animal clinic near 100 Baby Image Square.

Dr. Mao was pleased to take a photo with me in the clinic.

Colleagues and partners, Dr. Huang (left) and Dr. Zhang (right).

              While my main purpose of the visit was to give Dr. Mao our updates about Cute-cute, I also came for some dog time with the clinic’s mascot and to check up on one of his canine patients.

               Here are their stories.

Little Cute-cute

Last month, a homeless Xiao Guai-guai (Little Cute-cute) was stuck in Dr. Mao’s clinic. Not for long!

           As mentioned before, Dr. Mao’s friend had dropped Cute-cute, a black Pomeranian, into his care because she could no longer care for a little dog.  A new baby in the house and a busy job for both parents left our sweet canine without a home.  Dr. Mao was hoping I’d take the dog but instead, I found a happy home for her with my good friend, English teacher “Marty” Li.

            News, in fact, is very good regarding Cute-cute.  She has adjusted well to the Li family, and they to her.  I have heard from Marty that she is a quiet, agreeable little thing and enjoys her daily walks with his little girl and wife after school. She is beginning her vaccinations to protect her from the deadly diseases so prevalent here in China for dogs.  Distemper and parvo are big killers, not to mention rabies.   

            Being only 1 year old, Cute-cute will be with the Li family for many, many years.  I am so proud that I can credit myself for all their future happiness.

Ancient Clock Tower (钟古楼)

The clinic mascot, Ancient Clock Tower

            Of course, while at the clinic, my best friend was there to greet me:  Zhong Gu Lou (joh-ng goo low), Ancient Clock Tower.

            Ancient Clock Tower is the mascot of the clinic.  He is a hefty mix of standard poodle and something else.  His wiry, short-cropped, curly coat doesn’t give much warmth during our chilly Sichuan weather, especially with no heat inside, but he doesn’t seem to mind at all.  He is a contented dog and a lover,   freely wandering the clinic from his open cage to beg attention from whoever walks in the door.

            My first encounter with him had his long nose pressed up against my leg, big eyes looking upward for a pet. He loved having his thick, square-shaped, drooping ears scratched, not to mention his muscular rump. 

            “He really likes you, ” Dr. Mao laughed when the dog started following me around the clinic, begging for more head rubs. 

            “What’s his name?” I asked.

            “Zhong gu lou (Ancient Clock Tower),” Dr. Mao replied.

            I thought I’d misunderstood. 

            Ancient Clock Tower is near the Luzhou church, in the center of town. 

Ancient Clock Tower: A reminder of the Japanese occupation of Luzhou in the 1930s.

          It was built in the 1930s by the  Japanese army that landed here when they invaded Sichuan.  It is a tall clock tower, still in use today and a landmark for the city.   A strong reminder of the cruelty done to the people of China by the Japanese at that time period.

            “His name is Ancient Clock Tower?” I asked for clarification.  “Like our Luzhou Ancient Clock Tower, the one in front of Everybody’s Happy Supermarket?”

            Dr. Mao nodded.

            It seems that our big, black, poodle mix had been found 4 years ago at the tower by his friend.  The poor thing was about 30 pounds, in very poor shape – just skin and bones and very weak.  He was brought to the clinic where the 3-vet trio, Dr. Mao, Dr. Zhang and Dr. Huang, took care of him.  He became a part of their medical family and has been here ever since.

            Now he weighs a solid 60 pounds, a very gentle soul who pads about from room to room when clients and patients arrive. 

            He is the only one who truly enjoys his time at the animal hospital, which I always jokingly call “The Bad Place” since every animal that enters shivers in fear and dread.

            Not this adopted stray.

            “The bad place is your home, isn’t it, Ancient Clock Tower?” I asked him before I left. 

            He completely understood me and wagged his tail.

            Smart dog!

Ancient Clock Tower is quite content to make “The Bad Place” his permanent home.

Still On the Mend:  A Giant Guard Dog Needing Help

            And while stopping in, I couldn’t help but peer in on the huge, German shepherd-mix guard dog that Dr. Mao has been treating for 5 weeks now.

            This poor canine was lying down, whining in misery, while in an iron cage next to Cute-cute.  He had a thick chain around his neck so the staff could pull him in and out of his enclosure when it came time for treatment.

            At first, I thought he had a disease of some sort.  I worried that he’d give it to Cute-cute, whose collapsible cage was pressed up against his. Cute-cute, as you remember, had not yet had her vaccinations.

            But on closer inspection, I saw that this dog was seriously injured:  The pads of his two back feet were completely gone, gaping holes left behind that showed the cartilage and pulpy flesh underneath.  His front pads were also damaged but not quite as severely.

            “What happened?” I had asked Dr. Mao.  “Did someone do that to him?”

            Some owners here can be very cruel to their animals. Guard dogs for factories or other facilities in China have it especially hard since they are not deemed as pets but as workers.  They get fed but are not really kept in great shape or fawned over.  Beatings often take place to keep them in their place, depending on the watchman’s mood at the time.

            It wouldn’t have surprised me to hear someone had done this to the German Shepherd mix but I was relieved to hear that wasn’t the case.

            This dog worked at a coal mine outside of town. He guarded the entrance gate.   While unloading trucks, a barrel of liquid chemical was spilled on the ground.  The canine was in its immediate path.  Not realizing the danger, he walked through it with disastrous results.  Whatever the chemical was, it ate right through his calloused padding to the very bone.

            When I first saw him 4 weeks ago, he was in very bad shape.  I honestly didn’t see how such a wound could ever heal or how he could be helped.

            But last week, I was pleased to see that the medicines and treatment being given were having a positive effect.  Our guard dog has a long way to go but his paws are getting better.  Who knows when he’ll be able to stand again but hopefully, he won’t have to be put down. 

            I do wonder about his plight, though. 

            As long as the factory believes he’s worth saving, they’ll continue paying for him but it’s not cheap.  $15 – $40 a day adds up for injections, meds and in-house care.  He’s already been there for 5 weeks.  I’m just wondering if our vets have been paid yet, or if the dog will be abandoned, leaving them to cover the medical costs themselves.

            I do know these doctors have kind, sympathetic hearts.  It might very well be that Ancient Clock Tower gets a new companion to roam about the clinic with him.   Time will tell.

The Week Begins and Temperatures Are Dropping

            Another week begins with our temperatures hitting the low 40s at night with inside buildings registering 55.  There is no central heating for those of us south of the Yangtze River.  The students are used to this in their dorm rooms because their own homes are the same but that doesn’t make it any easier to get up for early morning classes every day.

            I am not one to suffer the cold so  I have bought a small radiator heater to keep me toasty in at least one room in my home.  For deep winter, we’re usually in the high 30s, low 40s for winter but it has been known to snow.  This certainly is a far cry from last year in Longzhou, where Little Flower and I were still going on walks around the sports field while I was in my shorts and T-shirts.  

            Despite the cold, no regrets in returning to my Sichuan home after 3 years of absence.

            Until next update, here’s wishing you Ping An (peace) for your day.

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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