Conducting research on bed #3.
"No!" is a word I hear a lot and I have learned it has several different meanings.
Most of the times, the word is strongly said to me and it means I have to stop doing whatever it is that I am doing because they don't like it.
Sometimes, it is pronounced as a long sound, something like "Nooooooo..." and it means that what I was about to do is something mommy and daddy don't like, so I should forget about it and go do someething else. Sometimes they scream it as loud as they can and this means they are too far from me and I can continue doing what I'm doing until they get close. Other times is a bit more confusing. They get home, see the results of my research and in a kind of crying voice say "Noo..". What research you ask? Well, let me explain.
I am one lucky dog, my parents buy me lots of toys so I can bite. Some of them squeak when I bite them, some of them don't, some of them are hard, some of them are soft. If you leave me with a toy long enough, I will get very curious and wonder: What is it that makes it squeak? What is it that doesn't make it squeak? Why does it feel like that when I bite it? What's inside? Are there many things or is it just one? I must know. It probably sounds like a cliche, but I believe what's inside is what counts! And so, I embark in several hours of research, where I carefully open the object and start removing its contents. When I conduct research on my toys, they don't seem to mind, they don't say the "No" word. But, when I do it on larger objects, my bed for example, the crying "Noo.." can be heard. I really don't know why.
So far, I have had 3 beds and they have all produced the same result: a kind of cotton thing is inside of them, and it gets easily attached to my mouth, it is light and tasteless. My parents don't like to see these things all over the floor and they don't like how the studied objects look afterwards, so they throw them away.
Bone! Gotta go!
Right now we are 4. Yes, 4 dogs in one apartment. My sister Lola and me, and since late January, Blackie and Brownie. We were 5 for over a week. My mommy brought in 3 little puppies all of a sudden. She said they were like me, stray dogs. She found them somewhere around our home, looking for food in the cold. One of the puppies, her name is Spray Can, was adopted very soon so I didn't get to know her well. Her 2 brothers are still with us. So, here we are, 3 previously stray dogs who ate garbage for survival. (Only 3 because Lola was never really on the streets) And guess what? We all like our dry dog food!
It wasn't always like this, as I mentioned on another post, it took me a long time to get used to this kind of food. My parents kept on trying to find a brand I would like. They tried everything: imported from Canada, the US, Australia, and so on. They tried some brands with lots of "benefits" for dogs. For example, to make our hair shinny, to help us digest better, to improve our breathe and a bunch of other things. Also some "gourmet" kind of thing: with organic vegetables pieces from the valley of I don't know where, "carefully selected for your dog's health". Grrrrr, to me, they tasted worse than the stuff I used to find on the streets, and would prefer to be hungry for a whole day or 2 than eating it.
I think another reason my parents decided to keep on changing brands was because of some... side effects. I'm not proud of this, but, some of those brands made me expel intestinal gas through the anus (read "fart"). Badly. You wouldn't hear it, you would just smell it. It wasn't making anyone happy and when they had to pick up my poo it was even worse, I could see their faces twisting around! Not my fault! It was the food.
Anyways, a few months ago, they finally found it, the perfect dry food for us. You see, since we were suddenly 5, they ran to the supermarket and got whatever was available and looked reliable. Another international brand, yes, but it turned out to be cheapest one. I won't tell you the brand but I can tell you is a yellow bag. So, we discovered we like cheap stuff! even the 2 puppies, who had just arrived, got adjusted to it in a day! Really hard to imagine, if you ever adopted a street dog you would know that all we want is human food.
Don't get me wrong, I still beg for eggs and apples, but, I don't mind eating my dry food anymore, even without any meaty wet food.
So here is a tip: Don't let yourself be guided by all the "benefits" of some imported brands, we sometimes just like the basic simple stuff.
Another tip is to check which brands have been approved to be sold in China. As it turns out, MOST OF THE BRANDS OUT THERE ARE BEEN SOLD WITHOUT THE REAL PERMISSION, which means they have not passed any test. So, becareful. ICVS Asia wrote on its website (2010) that there are 7 brands legally registered in China:
- Royal Canin dry dog and cat foods (manufactured by Mars Corporation)
- Purina Pro-Plan dry dog and cat foods (manufactured by Nestle Corporation)
- Purina Dog Chow and Cat Chow dry foods (manufactured by Nestle Corporation)
- Purina Friskies dry cat food (manufactured by Nestle Corporation)
- Whiskas dry and canned cat foods (manufactured by Mars Corporation)
- Pedigree dry and canned dog foods (manufactured by Mars Corporation)
- Cesar canned dog food (manufactured by Mars Corporation)
A cat! Gotta go!
I don't know exactly where I read that taxi drivers will be more than happy to take you and your dog anywhere in Beijing. I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news but that is not true at all.
A few weeks ago, Lola, my sister (yes! I have a sister now! I'll tell you about her later) got hurt. She stepped on some glass and her paws were bleeding. We live about 5 minutes by car from our vet, straight, to the right and we are there. Even our vet could not convince any of the drivers to take us, even though her paws were covered and she was not bleeding anymore. We tried about 4 taxis until we gave up and walked there, Lola in arms (she is 8KG so not such a big deal I guess).
This is not the first time this has happened. I remember during winter my mommy used to cover me with a blanket before we tried to get a taxi. At the beginning I thought she was just trying to keep me warm (it was -14C!) but then I discovered it was also to conceal me, otherwise we wouldn't have gotten a taxi at all. So, there is a trick for you to learn, I swear the drivers will assume you are carrying a human baby with you and won't notice until you arrive to your destination!
Every time you go into the subway station or on a bus in Beijing, you can see they all have signs that say "no animals allowed", so they are not an option either.
Now, how about other issues? Like, where can you go with your dog in Beijing? That's a tough one. Parks are out of the question. Yes, I know what you are thinking "Parks ARE for dogs!", not in China they are not. So, where do you walk your dog? In your neighborhood. If you live in a closed one even better. Where I live is very nice, lots of people with lots of dogs, so humans look after us. What about restaurants? Coffee shops? It depends on the area. I remember I was allowed into some coffee shops in the hutongs in Beijing, but I am not allowed anywhere indoors in the CBD. My mommy took me to Sanlitun a while ago, my first time there! It was dark and kind of confusing... Anyways, she wanted to eat inside the Nali Patio because they have an open area with tables and chairs outside, but the security guards stopped us, even though the Nali Patio is an outdoors venue, I was not allowed to go in. So we went to Luga's instead (the small one) and it was fine.
Shopping malls? No way. I have heard that the Scitec mall is dog friendly (they even host an annual doggy event there) but I haven't tried it yet.
Believe it or not, these actions are actually backed up by the law. As we found out when trying to complain to the taxi company after Lola's episode, it is NOT FORBIDDEN for drivers to take dogs in taxis, BUT they must agree to take pets inside. Our solution? We befriended a very nice tuk tuk driver (you know, those grey covered motorcycles that go for short distances for 5-10 yuan each direction), he gave us his card (everyone has a business card in China) and we call him when in need to take us somewhere.
So, there you have it, save yourself some time and don't rely on taxis, be nice to a tuk tuk driver and avoid anti-dog areas. It's hard to be a dog!
The place where I live now is quite a nice one: there is a big yard with lots of green areas for me to explore, run and play with all my new friends. It is very different from the hutongs. The hutongs, where I survived for a few months, was a place for me to find food and a place to hide from the cold and the rain. There was always something on the floor, and, those were the things that kept me alive.
Now, what kind of things do you think I found on the ground? The things humans call "waste", "garbage" and some other nasty stuff.
In my new neighborhood in the CBD I don't find those as often. But I'm always looking. I'm going to tell you about the few stray-dog-ground-related habits I still have, I'm not proud of them, but hey! That's how I made it through the tough times!
Gross habit #1: Water source.
What is it that people in China do the most when they are walking out in the streets? They spit. They spit a lot. Even now, sometimes, I lick what they leave on the floor in search of water. Don't complain! The title of this post reads "gross"!
Gross habit #2: Emergency food source.
I could spend days without eating a single thing. What is another thing you often find on the grounds in Beijing? Vomit. Yes, I confess, I would sometimes eat what somebody's stomach rejected for some reason. My new mommy actually caught me eating my own vomit a couple of times. I was sick and it just came out, but, having spent some time on the streets, I know how important food is and there is no way I'm wasting any of it.
I think it's enough for now, right?
In case you are wondering, these bad habits DO go away, and I do it less and less with time (almost never nowadays). It's been almost a year since I was rescued the first time and I'm still not as fond of dry food for dogs as I am of human food, so I still try to get human food if I can (Just a moment ago I licked my daddy's soup bowl, don't tell him!). Just be patient with your dog and teach him/her what he/her should and what he/she should not do, I promise it will go away entirely.
"Mei Banfa!" they would say, and that meant I should look at them. I didn't quite get used to it but it was catchy. It turns out that my first parents named me Mei Banfa because, being originally a Chinese dog, they wanted to give me a Chinese name. Mei Banfa can be translated as "can't be helped" or "to be at one's wit's end", basically it means you are screwed because there is nothing you can do to fix something or get what you want. It is a commonly used phrase, for example, if you can't buy something because the store is closed you say "Mei Banfa", if you have to take a job you don't want because you need the money, you say "Mei Banfa" . So, since I basically didn't have much of a chance of survival by myself out in the hutongs, they thought it was suitable.
One day, I saw them putting all of my stuff, my dry food, water bowls and my first toys (a rope bone and a teddy bear) on a bag, put the leash on me and we went out. "Great! we are having an outing!" I thought. We took a taxi for a while, got off, walked a bit and arrived to a nice neighborhood. At a gate, we were greeted by another human, a woman, and we walked with her towards a building and then, we went into one of the places I really didn't like: an elevator. Those things move in a very strange way and I didn't want to go inside, so my dad at that time picked me up and put me in. They pressed some buttons, the elevator moved and we arrived somewhere else. I couldn't stop smelling everything, it was all new! We walked through a door into an apartment. I walked all around, it was a bigger place, there was a soft thing on the floor in the living room (a "carpet") and I really liked how it felt, I lied down on this "carpet" thing and I was playing with my toys, it was sooo comfy! The woman who lived there was trying to play with me but I was keeping my distance.
After a while, my parents, my rescuers, walked through the same door we used before, closed it and left me on the other side. I was shocked, scared, I didn't know what to do, I couldn't understand what was happening. I was been left behind, I felt abandoned again and I started crying. I just wanted to go with them, I started scratching the door, crying, barking, crying some more. The woman was trying to calm me down but it was not working, I didn't want her, I wanted my parents! The ones who took me in and cared for me! and loved me! Why were they doing this? I was not a bad boy, was I? I was devastated.
I cried for hours. This new woman gave me some good food though, a really nice chicken that after hours of crying was good.
Later that day, I heard steps outside the door and I ran towards this door that makes people disappear and thought it was my parents coming to pick me up! I was so excited for a second, but the smell was different, I didn't know who it was. A man walked in, he seemed happy to see me, but I was once again devastated, they were not the humans I wanted.
The following weeks I hardly ate. I found a place underneath the table and spent a lot of time there, hiding, waiting for my parents to pick me up, crying sometimes and whenever these new humans took me out for a walk, I would try to find where my parents went, tracing them back with my nose. As days went by, their smell vanished. And just like their smell, my name "Mei Banfa" also vanished, I heard it less and less and one day I didn't hear it again. Instead, I started hearing "Golan" a lot. Whenever they said it, these new humans would look at me and sometimes, they would give me really yummy things! I never ate such good things!
And there it was, I had a new home, a new name -a second one, or maybe even a third one, who knows- and it is a nice one I think!!
You might recall that I went through a rather painful vaccination treatment for 7 days. Well, we needed to wait for at least a couple of days so the vet could check me again and give a faithful answer about my condition.
So, we went to the vet last Thursday. Dr. Stone was so nice that he waited at the clinic until 7pm to check me. First, it was the usual check-up: temperature (I hate it! sticking a thermometer up my butt is not necessarily fun), my eyes, nose, ears, neck glands, heart rate... And then, THE test. Tests, actually. Two things had to be done: First, the vet took a sample of fluids from my nose and eyes and it was mixed with a couple of liquids (I don't know what they were, they looked like water to me). This mixture was then put on a stick. My mom says it was like a pregnancy test stick. Apparently they work the same way, you wait a couple of minutes and then look at it, one line negative, two lines positive. This stick tells you if the distemper virus is present or not.
At the same time, the doctor started test number 2: a blood sample to check the amount of antibodies I have. The nurse filled up a whole tube with my blood, mixed it up with some other stuff and put it in a machine. We had to wait for about 6 minutes.
Now, it's important to know that the stick is never a 100% accurate, that's why you need the blood test. If the stick says negative and the blood test says that antibodies are low, then you must follow a treatment because it means distemper is still present.
Lucky me, my stick had one line and my antibodies were super high!!!
No more shots!! (at least for a while)
It's been exactly one week since Isabela arrived (I miss her so much!), and it was only today that my shots concluded. It's been a hard week.
When a dog gets Distemper and a vaccinated dog is in touch with it, the second dog -in this case, me- will get the virus, too. The vaccination will help to deal with the virus of course, however, my vet suggested to give my immune system an extra help since I was living with Isabela for a few days. This treatment was a 5 days procedure with 3 shots everyday. After the shots, I would lose all my energy, hardly walk anymore, I just felt like sleeping, and weak.
But, this was not the worse part. On day 3, I got a cold, so the vet prescribed me another treatment: 3 shots everyday for 3 days. So, both treatments overlapped. On day 4 and 5, I had 6 shots daily. I am quite strong and hardly ever complain if something hurts, but this was painful. Not only did I not have energy, but I couldn't move, eat, drink, walk, get on the sofa or anything that required any kind of energy. I looked as if I was sleepy, with my eyes almost closed, but you could tell how difficult it was for me once my whole body started shaking, not much, but the way I shake when I am cold. My mommy was so worried because she didn't know if this was normal and there was nothing she could do, but my vet told her it was OK, just my body reacting to the shots. It was not a pretty sight and each time the shaking lasted for about 1 hour and the whole lack of energy situation for up to 7 hours.
This made me remember when I first moved into the place where I live now. A couple of days after my arrival, my new parents took me to the vet. I was excited because there were a few other dogs and I thought I could make friends with them and play for a while! Imagine my surprise when they put me on a cold metal table and I heard a couple of dogs crying. Then they put me on a lower version of the same table and asked to me stand still, I didn't want to! A guy was holding me, while a woman was looking at me, while dogs were watching me and barking, it was so stressful, I was very confused. Then, the guy said my weight was 5Kg. Back on the table, a guy held me while another one stuck something inside my butt, and then they said that my temperature was normal. They checked my teeth, ears, neck, paws, eyes and nose. Finally, they gave me a shot. I was shocked, what did I do to get it?? I don't remember being a bad boy... I was depressed for the rest of the day.
After 3 weeks, we were back there again, for 2 more shots, following the same procedure.
So, apparently, these 3 shots are a must for puppies, they protect me from: Parvo, distemper, rabies, worms, para influenza and leptospirosis. Of course, I didn't know that at first.
These shots should be administered during the first months of a puppy's life, however, since I was probably living on the streets during that time, I didn't get them until I was around 7 months old (my first parents didn't get around to vaccinate me while they took care of me, when I was 6 months old or something like that).
Anyways, to keep me protected, the 3 original vaccinations must be given to me one more time this year, I am an adult now and I need them again.
Although I hate the vaccinations and going to the clinic makes me nervous, the vets and nurses are actually very nice to me, they all know my name and like me very much. At the end, I know I will go home and rest. Also, now I know, the vaccinations are actually a good thing, they keep me healthy in the long run.
Last week I really didn't have time to continue with my story and I have a very good reason. We have to fast forward to the present and continue later with how I got from the Hutongs to my actual home.
Last Sunday, something unexpected happened. My mom took me out for a walk around noon, and after a few minutes I saw my dad walking into the compound, holding a kind of bag. When he got to us, he put it on the grass, opened the zipper and Isabela came out. She was such a beautiful puppy; smaller than me, walking in a cute clumsy way white with some brown highlights on her back. I liked her immediately! My dad put her back because she started to cry (she wasn't wearing any jacket and it was very cold) and walked towards our building. I got a bit scared because I thought for a moment that I was being replaced, I started crying but since my mom stayed with me I figured it would be ok.
When we got back home, she was walking around the apartment, sniffing around, checking everything. She was my sister, my parents said, and I was happy about it. I went to her and we started playing, bitting a bit (sometimes too rough for her), running a bit, chewing stuff, I borrowed her my toys (which I NEVER do) and late at night, I even let her have my bed! I slept on the sofa in my parents room instead, they let me do it to show me they were not replacing me and I was still their baby. It was a great Sunday.
On Monday, we played around again, but something was a little different, in the morning, she had diarrhea. It got worse and worse through out the day and by night time she was already doing it almost every hour. I even heard my mom saying that there was blood in her poo and I could hear Isabela coughing and sneezing. My mom said she thought she had a cold and will take her to the vet next day.
On Tuesday, I heard my mom talking to my dad on the phone, then she rushed to get dressed, got me dressed and we went to the vet. Isabela was there with my daddy, and he didn't seem happy, on the contrary, he seemed very sad. The vet had discovered Isabela had Distemper, they kept talking about a virus and although I couldn't understand what the fuss was about, it worried me. They were talking about "putting her to sleep" and I thought that was strange, I had given her my bed so why would a 3 months old puppy like her need to sleep at the vet's? A few minutes later, they put us on some tables and gave us injections, 3 for me, and 7 for her. It hurt me just a bit, but she was crying so much. This distemper thing can not be good I thought.
After that, we were not allowed to play together anymore, she was placed in an area in the living room where I could not go in, she was trying to come to me to play, but every time she did it, my mom would put her back. She wasn't eating and was sleeping a lot. I felt very sleepy too, and tired, like I didn't have energy anymore, it was caused by the injections I heard.
She was still in a bad condition the next day and after we came back from the vet with our shots, Isabela was this time put aside in another room and now we were completely separated, she was crying and every time I saw her in there, unable to come out and play, and sick, I would cry too. I was so sad.
At night, my parents didn't sleep much. My dad slept with me and my mom stayed up all night with Isabela, who was having a very hard time breathing and didn't sleep all night. My parents were very sad, I saw them crying during the night..
On Thursday, she could hardly stand up or walk. We went to the vet's again. He checked Isabela and said she was not so bad, but that since she was little, not eating with respiratory problems and without any previous vaccinations, her chances of living were just 10%, puppies don't really survive this disease apparently. Then, my parents said they will "put her to sleep". I thought that was a good idea considering that she didn't sleep the night before, but they seemed so sad with this decision. Another doctor came inside the room and for some reason I knew there was something wrong. I hid under the sofa where my parents were sitting and didn't want to come out. When I saw they were taking Isabela out of her box I calmed down a bit and came out. Then, they placed her on the table, shaved a little part in her leg, and the doctor gave her a shot. I didn't know why but this made me feel really sad, maybe because my parents were crying and telling Isabela how much they love her. She fell asleep a minute after her shot and her breathing problem was gone and she seemed so peaceful, as beautiful as always. Then, the doctor and a nurse carefully wrapped her, along with her blankets and her new jacket, in a kind of cotton diaper, then put her inside a plastic bag. Now I understood, she was not going to wake up, ever.
We walked home after my shots, just the 3 of us. We arrived to the apartment and they started to put everything she ever touched in garbage bags, toys, my bed, blankets..., the doctor instructed them to do so, otherwise this virus will attack me severely, too. They are cleaning the apartment now with a mixture of detergent, water and bleach, bleach is the only thing that can kill this virus, for full 2 weeks, my parents will be cleaning like this. They removed the carpet to have it disinfected and won't put it back until at least 3 months have passed (the time it needs to be virus-free) and they are bleaching all the clothes they wore since Isabela arrived the first time, also the pillow cases, bed sheets and who knows what else.
"She is in puppy heaven" my mom said, "where she can run with a lot of energy, play all she wants and be a happy little girl'. I really hope so.
Woof! for my beloved sister, Isabela.
Let me continue with my story.
As I said on my last post, after a while living on the Hutongs, a couple took me in and started to take care of me and giving me food and water on a daily basis, I had never been so happy! However, the food issue was a bit difficult for me. It was brown, dry, a bit hard to bite, small and these things came in a bone shape. It smelled kind of nice, like chicken or something. But the taste, I don't know, I just didn't like it. I was not sure of what it was, and, to tell you the truth, I'm still not sure, I only know that I am supposed to eat that.
For weeks I walked around the hutongs with them, went into cafes (where I was never allowed before), met a lot of humans and actually had some fun.
I learned many things on these weeks. For example, many humans are nice, when you get thirsty you can drink water from a bowl on the floor (placed there specially for you!) , biting is not a game humans like to play and humans are very happy if you only pee and poo outside. Doing these last 2 things was my way of thanking them for taking care of me and I am very proud of this until now, I never pee or poo inside, only ouside where nobody can step on it! I also learned I like apples, chicken and LOVE eggs.
A couple other things happened. The first one, I didn't enjoy so much. They started to put a thing around my body, this thing was thin and long, it kept me somehow attached to the humans hands, I heard them calling it a "leash" and they would put it on me whenever we went out of our house. Every time they tried to put the "leash" on me, I would start biting it a bit with my little teeth, I didn't like having it around but it was nice to bite! I had a big urgency to bite everything around this time, I don't understand why, but maybe it had to do with the fact that some teeth were falling and somehow new ones where coming out! This has to be a 6-months-old-puppy kind of thing.
The second one, was that the people taking care of me were always repeating the same sound when they looked at me "Mei Banfa", whenever they wanted my attention, they would say it again. I didn't get it at the beginning, but then, one day after a few weeks, it hit me: They had given me a name. I didn't know what it meant until later on when I heard someone talking about it.
But, it's late right now, so I will tell you more about my new name and what happened later the next time.
Let´s start from the beginning, at least from the part I remember.
I was wondering around the Hutongs in Beijing, looking for something edible on the sides, it was getting hot since it was June, I think. In this area, some strangers would give me pieces of bread sometimes, other times they just waved their arms and moved their legs, with time I learned this meant they wanted me to go away.
But this day was different, this day I saw a woman I had seen before, she lived around there I assumed. She started to pronounce some words I didn't understand and moving her arms in a way different from what I had seen before, she actually had a smile on her face. I thought maybe she wanted me to follow her. So I did. To my surprise, she didn't get angry about me following her. Finally, we arrived to a door, she went in, looked at me and left it open for me, again pronouncing some strange word. Slowly and a bit scared, I went in.
From this day on I had a home. She and her boyfriend fed me (some weird dry brown food), played with me and took me around with them everywhere. I was no longer a stranger, and most humans seemed to like me.
I am not sure how my life was before, right now is nothing but a blur, but I do remember feeling hungry, weak, sick, but mostly, I remember feeling sad, things that a puppy my age (I was just 6 months old) should never feel.
This was the day my life changed. And it would change again in a few weeks, but I didn't know that. All I knew is that I was happy, looked after and not sleeping in an ugly dark alley anymore.