A China Dog’s Tale
I recently attended an entertainment mixer in Hollywood, and met the most incredible girl named Annie from China. Annie is a filmmaker and lives between her homes in Hollywood and Beijing. As we chatted about our career goals and aspirations, I told her that I had just completed my first novel about the love between a dog and its’ human. Annie told me that she, too, had a dog back in China that was her life. I told her about my little dog Canoli, and how my love for him — and the pain of losing him — had inspired me to write my book. As we continued to become seriously engaged in ‘dog-loving-banter’, I remarked that it must be hard on her to have to leave her dog in China when she has to come to LA for work. She told me that her parents took good care of him, but that her heart ached and longed for him when she was in Los Angeles. As we continued to talk about how amazing dogs are, Annie started to open up with me about her dog, and her life in China being a dog lover.
Annie said that I was going to think she was crazy, but that when she is away from home, that she FaceTimes her dog every night. She told me that her dog, Bear, will not eat until he sees her – iPad to iPad – each and every night. I started to giggle, imagining the total cuteness of that, and I jokingly asked her what she said to him? Annie said she asks him questions as to how his day was, and asks how her parents are doing, and he looks straight at her, smiling the entire time. After they have connected for five to ten minutes, then Bear will go and eat his dinner. I smiled at her, realizing that I had just met another human who truly got the connection between a woman and her dog. It was a super sweet story, and a wonderful example of the love between a canine and his or her human.
But then this China Dog conversation headed in a more serious direction….
As we continued to get to know each other, I remarked that I was actually surprised that she had a dog, as I had heard that some people actually eat dogs in China. Annie told me that there was a festival in China called ‘The Festival of Yulin’ where dogs are confiscated from all over the country of China and shipped to Yulin, and during the summer solstice, these dogs are eaten. She went on to inform me that the majority of the dogs that are captured are people’s pets. Over the ten day festival, it’s estimated between 10,000 and 15,000 dogs are taken and, not only are they eaten, but they are often tortured beforehand. As you can well imagine, I was practically gagging listening to this story. She told me that not all Chinese people agree with this practice, and many people protest and stand on the highway building human shields to try to stop the trucks that are transporting the dogs. I started to imagine the horror of thinking of how I would feel if my dog had been captured or stolen for this barbaric ritual. At this point in our conversation both Annie and I were tearing up and I felt sick to my stomach.
Annie has been protesting this practice, and wants to make it her life’s mission to stop this from continuing. It’s hard to imagine that this actually happens. This is disgusting. Sickening! Horrid! Words cannot even begin explain how truly horrific this is. I mean we do eat meat, but eating people’s pets?? I don’t care if you are a dog lover or not, this is disgusting and cruel; truly cruel.
Just when you thought this China Dog Tale couldn’t get any worse…
Annie told me that she was heading back to China to be with her dog until her film started production, as Bear is ten, and she didn’t want to miss any precious time with him. She said that she worried constantly about him when she was in Los Angeles, concerned that something might happen to him while she was gone.
You see, a couple of years ago, when Annie was in Los Angeles working on a film, a police officer was walking by her home in Beijing and saw Bear outside in the yard barking at the neighbors’ dog. The following day, the police officer went back to her house and when her father answered the door, he demanded to inspect the dog. When he saw Bear, he immediately confiscated him. I couldn’t understand why the police officer was allowed to take Bear, simply because he was barking in his own yard. Annie went on to explain that it is illegal to have—now this is going to seem utterly ridiculous— a large dog in the city of Beijing; only small dogs are allowed. Bear is a Golden Retriever, and a large one at that; he weighs 80 pounds. When Annie got Bear, he was a puppy and small, and now that he is fully grown, she has to basically hide him. She can only take him on walks close to her house near friendly neighbors who help to hide her secret.
When Bear was confiscated, Annie’s parents chose not to tell her that Bear was being held captive, as they knew she would be hysterical. Annie’s dad went three times a day to see Bear, and Bear was so sad and so scared that he would not eat or drink anything. It was killing her dad to watch Bear suffer so. Then one day he overheard one of the guards talking about how much money they were going to get for Bear’s meat. Annie’s dad was sickened knowing that Bear was going to be sold to be eaten. His daughter’s baby was going to be slaughtered. Finally, Annie’s dad bribed the guard, and paid him a small fortune to save Bear and bring him home. Bear was so traumatized from the experience, that now, he won’t eat or drink until he sees his human Love – Annie, on FaceTime each and every night. As it turns out, there was a lot more to the sweet ‘FaceTime’ story that I had initially heard.
A conversation that started out as a sweet ‘dog-loving’ bubbly tale of happiness had all too quickly become a realistic and hard-to-hear story. But Annie was put in my life for a reason; I truly want to help her in her passion to end this unspeakable travesty that occurs in China. This China dog tale—as hard as it is to read— hopefully will inform and inspire you, the reader, to do your part and help in whatever way you can to spread the word about this injustice.
And as we now head into summer, this festival is now officially underway in China. During a recent conversation with Annie—who currently is in Beijing— she said she heard that the government announced that no dog meat would be allowed to be sold one week prior to the festival this year. But, other reports say that the Chinese government never made any such statement. So, perhaps some sweet pups won’t be eaten this year, but time will tell. Social media and animal activists are all over this, and the truth will reveal itself within time.
Animals have rights too, and all my ‘dog loving friends’ out there had better Tweet, Instagram and Facebook the crap out of this bullshit. Remember, knowledge means power, and even when knowledge is painful and sickening to learn, just let that knowledge propel you to empower yourself to help make change.
Until next week, dog lovers… Woof! xo
Audio link for those who prefer to listen! xo