Wednesday, February 19, 2003

It was a great day today. Warm, occasionally sunny, and the air was thick with the smell of spring. I love that. Having lunch on my balcony overlooking the Lotus Hill Complex is fantastic and really makes me appreciate where I'm living.

Poagao said this today, and he has a point:
I've learned my lesson about living outside the city for the past few weeks, though: I want to stay in the city. It's ok if you're living with dogs, cats, roomies and various significant otherly beings, but if you're alone, being out in the middle of nowhere rather sucks.

Although I have two cats - Babs & Mitch - the house does seem empty now without a dog. In the last year I've discovered that I am a "dog person". It all started one morning at Jake's. (Ok, the official name is J.U.K.E., which means Jake's Urban Kitchen East, but I think it's a ridiculous name and won't use it.) The boss lady brought in a street dog and gave it water. The dog was a purebred Sharpei - "wrinkle dog" - that had obviously seen better days. He was skinny, hungry, tired, had a sinus infection and was wounded from fighting with other dogs. Seeing as the boss was just going to turn him back out on the street after giving it food and water, V and I decided to take him home. We were both re-reading The Hobbit, so we gave him the name Bilbo Baggins, or Bo for short. We brought Bo to the vet where he got a preliminary check-up and some antibiotics. He was also scanned and the vet discovered that he had a microchip, but the information was unreadable. The vet was able track down the owner info, though and a few days later we gave Bilbo back to his relieved owner. That little episode made me realize that a dog would fit into my domestic life quite nicely, and so I started doing some research. Although I love all dogs in general, there are four breeds that I am particularly fond of: Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes and the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Labs, however, have always been at the top of the list, because of their great personality (V would say "humanality"), their handsome appearance, and their love of human interaction. They were also the easiest choice in terms of local availability, so a couple of months later we came home with Balder.

Balder was a great dog. He learned very quickly and had a fantastic personality. Unfortunately he also had bad genes. At 3 months he was diagnosed with fibrosarcoma, a very aggressive strain of cancer. The vet was surprised to see it in such a young dog. We were heartbroken. After removing lumps from his leg twice, the vet said the only chance to save his life was to amputate his leg. We reluctantly agreed but it was too late. The doc discovered that the cancer had spread quite high up the leg and he was forced to remove more of the leg than he had originally anticipated. I went to see Balder after the surgery, and as soon as he heard my voice his tail started wagging feebly. He lifted his head onto my hand, gave a little lick and went to sleep. He died later that night, only 7 months old.

He was a well-trained puppy, able to respond to many different commands, and always eager to please. He liked to sleep at my feet. ~sigh~ I still miss him.

A couple of months ago, our vet called us to say that a labrador retriever had given birth and then died of an infection in her womb - the owner had seven live puppies that needed saving and couldn't do it all by himself - could we lend a hand? Well, of course we agreed. For a day and a half we tended to two puppies non-stop, but to no avail. On the second day they both died from the same infection that their mother had, as did all of the other pups in the litter except for one. We weren't surprised, but we were disappointed.

One month ago, we decided to try again. One of my students knew a pet store owner whose own dog was having puppies. We went to take a look and brought home Cleo. She was beautiful, but became ill a few days after we brought her home. It turned out that she had Canine Distemper - a very deadly virus. We did our best to save her over a period of two weeks, but after she started having seizures, the vet said that the virus had entered her nervous system and there was little chance of a recovery. With heavy hearts we put her to sleep. That was a particularly exhausting experience. The pet store owner told us that the dog was guaranteed, and offered to replace it, but V and I feel that we've been burned enough by the experience - we won't ever get a dog from an unregistered, unlicensed breeder again. As Taiwan has no kennel club to speak of, this means that we will probably import a dog from overseas - probably Australia or New Zealand, as there are no applicable quarantine regulations for dogs coming from there.

You might ask why we would still want a dog after all of this heartbreak, but if you did ask this question you are most likely not a dog owner. Dog lovers understand...

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