Monday, 23 February 2015

The Day Of Doggie Drama

Today is Monday, the last day of the Chinese New Year period (this year is the Goat - my year apparently), and I'm tired. There was reasonably heavy rainfall on Saturday night, and the subsequent weather both yesterday and today has been overcast and dull. Nonetheless I made a half-hearted trip down to Kaohsiung again yesterday with the vague purpose of looking for things I may have missed in and around the watershed of Agongdian reservoir which stretches up into Tianliao district. In particular, I had a new hypothesis as to the position of the flood control channel leaving the Yanchao control gates. Finding the exit, however, is akin to finding a needle in a haystack as that area is full of myriad tiny streams and ponds, as this image from google maps indicates...

I drove down through the farmers' roads but passed by the reservoir to go up into the hills to the north east. I stopped briefly at the foot of the mountain to stare at the ancient mud-formations...

Once near the summit, I stopped at the hairpin bend overlooking the tunnel mouth for freeway number three. The haze hanging over the mudslopes of Tianliao was immense so there was no reason to bother with the DSLR, so I just continued using my phone camera. I wonder if a new set of filters might help me do something useful in this kind of weather...

But while I was there a little tan-coloured pup ran up to play with me...

There was another guy on a scooter there, but when I asked him if she was his dog he said no and when I asked if it was a stray dog he said it was somebody else's and when I asked who, he said he didn't know. So that was that then. She was crawling all over me wanting to play, and it was clear she wasn't being looked after properly (running around on her own on a narrow hairpin bend where she could have been run over any minute). As she wasn't in the least bit afraid of me, I decided to try and take her back to Tainan.

The difficulty with this was that I was on my motorbike rather than my scooter, and so I had nowhere to put her - nor did I have a bag or box or anything like that. So I held her in one hand and rolled down the mountain in neutral, then tied my cardigan to the handlebars and zipped her up inside it like a makeshift sling - this allowed me limited freedom to occasionally use my left hand for clutch control, besides keeping her flat on the gas tank. I drove into Yanchao in third gear, and stopped to get some gear to strap her up to me more securely to leave me with two hands free to control the bike. However, as it was still the holiday period there weren't many shops open so I ended up buying an atrocious backpack from a street vendor. It fell to pieces almost immediately but I managed to stitch her up inside the bag using stationary clamps. I strapped the bag on to my front so I could see and speak to her, and then did the hour long drive back to Tainan city. It was an uncomfortable trip, and I was relieved to get back. She will go to the vets' tommorow for an examination (she has some kind of skin problem) and to get vaccinated.

I am calling her "Erhjen" after the river which divides Tainan and Kaohsiung.

Naturally, I've been getting the silly "hero's treatment" from various friends and acquaintances as I already have five dogs (after Shao Bai was murdered in March last year). This is common, but I am uncomfortable with accepting the compliment. In the grand scheme of things it's not that big a deal really. Once the initial three or four months are over and she becomes accustomed to going out to the park several times a day for toilet time, rather than peeing in the house and making me mop up after her, then I expect things will be easy. One thing I've noticed about her already however, is that she likes to think she's tough - growling and snapping at my other dogs when they come over to sniff her. None of my dogs have yet bitten her or otherwise put her in her place - probably because of me - though that will inevitably change at some point. As long as she's still alive and not seriously injured when I get back home, then I'm not too bothered. She will have to learn her place as subordinate to the others who are older than her.

All of that was yesterday.

This morning I took the dogs to the park two at a time, but with the little pup on her own in a box on my scooter. A large, striped Taiwanese hunting dog called "Diamond" (similar in appearance to Erhjen but five or six times larger) was in the park - without his owner. He followed me and my dogs around and was friendly with me. I had first met him and his owner in the park sometime last week, which is how I knew his name. On that occasion he got into a fight with a stray dog and I got the distinct impression that his owner was reluctant to come and sort it out - as if he was content to leave it to me to sort out (he did come in the end, but he dragged his heels). This morning, with the owner absent, and Diamond following me around, a woman with her children and a bulldog were out walking around and the bulldog approached Diamond. A fight ensued. I quickly pulled Diamond off of the bulldog and gave him a kick - not vicious, but just hard enough to let him know he was thus advised to behave himself in my presence. My friend Natalia eventually arrived at the park and she wanted to take him to a vet to have his microchip checked in order to track the owner. I reminded her it was Chinese New Year and that they'd all be closed, but she later found one that was open and drove him there by herself. They found no chip.

The obvious two possibilities were that the dog had either "escaped" from the owner somehow, or that the owner had deliberately abandoned him at the park. We suspected the latter, as it is a common practice in Taiwan, having encountered it many times previously and as evinced by the sheer numbers of stray dogs in Taiwan. We later found out that we were apparently wrong, and that the dog had in fact escaped from the owner.

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