Four-legged Discards: What Chinese College Kids Leave Behind

        I have returned after a full week in Chengdu to a campus that is oddly quiet. Both our Luzhou college students and Qing Hai University students have fled, returning to their homes for the summer break.
            Along with their departure came loads of unwanted stuff, dumped into hallways, stuffed into trash cans or left in rooms. Unlike American university dormitories, check-out is a quick affair without cleaning up behind oneself.
                Mostly, students just take off.
               Bedding, cleaning supplies, rejected clothes, broken suitcases, used books and papers are piled high wherever students please.
              The mess is unbelievable but the campus workers manage to get rid of it all within a few days. They even are quite happy to find things of use, such as plastic buckets and basins, or recyclable materials which will bring them money.
              Other discards are more heartbreaking, meaning the 4-legged variety.

Pets Not Allowed! (But Who’s Stopping It?)

          It never fails that during the school year, students in the dorms head out to the local outdoor pet market and, for a few dollars, end up bringing home puppies, kittens or baby rabbits to raise in their rooms. These are forbidden by the school but secretly kept around despite the dormitory monitors’ watchful eyes.
            With 6 to 8 people in a room, usually the dorm mates either stick together in taking care of the little one or someone complains, causes a fuss and out the animal goes. On other occasions, students wait until an extended holiday before stuffing the critter into a bag, sneaking it on the bus and heading home. They dump the animal on the parents and return at times to get another pet, only to repeat the same procedure when the next holiday comes around.
            Puppies are especially adored. They are tiny and cute, following their owners around with total commitment and endless love.
            Whining, peeing, barking and destroying dormitory stuff is never an issue until it happens on a regular basis. Then dorm mates tend to get a little annoyed and the dormitory monitors, who were once tolerant of such things, start to wave around their authority more.
            The animal must go.
            Puppies that grow into bigger puppies are yet another problem. Most of the pet market canines are mutts of undetermined origin. Tiny at first but not so tiny after several months.

Adorable DP: A Student Reject

           And so it was that when our Luzhou students took off 3 weeks ago, DP (Dormitory Puppy) wound up outside Girls’ Dormitory 3, near where I live. He was obviously thrown out by someone who didn’t want to deal with taking a dog home with them. Instead, they just left him outside to fend for himself.
             He was a rather large puppy, a mix of German Shepherd and something else. Long, gangly legs made his romps especially funny to watch. He began his antics by following track runners early morning around the sports field before retiring to the entrance of Dormitory 3. There he sat and waited for his owner to return. He would eye every girl who exited or entered the building, sometimes standing to wag his tail at a passerby who would stop to pet him. Other than that, no one paid any attention to him.

DP (center front) on the sports' field playing with her Chi friend.

DP (center front) on the sports’ field playing with his Chi friend.

One Very Sick Pup

         I watched DP for 3 days as more and more students dragged their luggage to the front gate, excited to be going home. He flopped on the concrete. He wandered the dorm entranceway. He sniffed about the grounds.
         And then, he got sick.
         DP’s energy faded fast from racing around the sports field to just lying on the ground, not wanting to move or eat. He was so ill that he couldn’t stand up. Not even a pet from me would enlist his usual unfailing tail wag.
         Being the kind of person I am, I couldn’t watch the poor thing die. I bundled him up in my arms, taxied to Dr. Mao, Dr. Huang and Dr. Li’s clinic (featured in a previous blog) and there you have it . . . Connie to the rescue again!

The Verdict

          My guess as to his illness was either distemper, which would immediately demand euthanizing, or the parvo virus, which is treatable if the puppy is taken to the vet’s quickly enough. Both of these are major canine killers in any country but especially in China since very few vaccinate their pets. (Chinese are still new to pet ownership and don’t understand the importance of such things.)
            After the initial testing, DP had parvo and it wasn’t good. It was quite progressed. Puppies can die within 24 hours of contracting this virus and our little guy had already been sick for 3 days.
             Dr. Huang wasn’t very optimistic. I debated having him put to sleep but after consulting by phone with Little Flower’s vet in Chengdu, we decided to give the little guy 3 days. If he couldn’t recuperate by then, it was best to let him leave this world without suffering.

DP his first day at the clinic, getting his IV drip.  One very sick puppy. (The cone is because of vomiting)

DP his first day at the clinic, getting his IV drip. One very sick puppy. (The cone is because of vomiting)

Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3: Anxious Times

            When I left DP on a Friday, he was being fitted with his IV apparatus and started on the first day of treatment. A full bottle of fluids along with his meds, not to mention 2 shots, were immediately given.
            Saturday, I returned to visit him as he lay in his cage. He registered some recognition as to who I was with a tiny tail wag. I spent the hour sitting next to his cage, petting him while his eyes closed in comfort.
           Sunday, I came to find him standing in his cage, tail wagging and even a little bark to add.
          And by Monday, it was clear DP was going to survive.
          In fact, Monday had us walking outside with his new collar and leash I purchased from the pet store next to the clinic. He wasn’t in top, top form but he certainly was happy to be out and about. And I was certainly happy to see him that way.

What to Do With DP?

            Even if I could have a dog, DP’s future size would be a great hindrance to my living here in China. Larger dogs are difficult to travel with. They are also more feared than little dogs, meaning many Chinese wouldn’t want him near them, even when leashed. Dogs can also be lively and noisy, which causes trouble with neighbors, although DP was nothing of the sort. He has a very gentle, quiet disposition which would make him a perfect pet for anyone, even a family with kids.
          DP’s treatment lasted for 10 days.
          During that time, I discussed with our vets what to do with him. No one at my school wanted him and I wasn’t about to dump him onto the street after spending the time, emotional energy and money to get him better. We came to an arrangement that they would keep him until a home could be found.

DP Still In the Clinic’s Care
          I’ve been visiting DP every day at the clinic for a walk and some attention time. After my return from Chengdu, I noticed he is sizably bigger. This is going to be a very large dog.
          He is extremely smart, very gentle and loves flopping at your feet for pets. His first toys that I gave him have been a great hit. He especially likes the rope ball which he enjoys rolling around on the ground with and chasing after. His leash walking has greatly improved and he is very good about coming when called.
           In other words, he is a perfect starter dog for someone.

DP on his walk.  One happy dog!

DP on his walk. One happy dog!

DP and I on our daily walk near the animal hospital

A Lucky Break
           We did have a lucky break when a reporter for the local newspaper came to interview me at the clinic about DP. I told her the dog’s story and how he really needed a happy home. DP and I had our picture taken and the story ran in the paper over a week ago.
          Still no takers but at least there is a little publicity about his plight.

Me, DP and our reporter, Ms. Chen, after our interview.

Me, DP and our reporter, Ms. Chen, after our interview.

Leaving Tomorrow for America
           Tomorrow will probably be my last visit to our little friend until a month later, when I return to China for language study. I will be spending my summer holidays in Marshall, Illinois with my parents while applying for my student visa from the Chinese Embassy in Chicago.
            It is hard to leave DP by himself, in his cage at the clinic without our hour walks and happy play times. The vet assistants are busy taking care of the other animals. At least he has some toys to play with, which should keep him busy. His vaccinations are already paid for and will be given during my time away. He’ll be good to go in 6 weeks.
            I will just hope that when I return, someone will take interest in our big boy and want to give him a wonderful life.
           From Luzhou, China, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day.

DP with her favorite toy. Let's hope someone wonderful adopts you.  (Who could resist that face?)

DP with his favorite toy. Let’s hope someone wonderful adopts you. (Who could resist that face?)

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.
This entry was posted in From Along the Yangtze, Luzhou: Yangtze Rivertown Stories, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

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