Stray dogs and cats lurk on every corner in the streets of Shanghai. Just in front of my house, I encountered at least 6 baby kittens sleeping in the construction scraps, and cardboard boxes. From the size of their small frames, they might be about two months old. Although, I am not much of a “cat person,” I hate to see these cats without an owner and left to defend and survive on their own
In my observation, owners here look at their dogs more of an accessory, rather than a companion. For example, the majority of dogs that are owned are called the “Teddy dog.” Basically, the “Teddy dog,” is a cafe colored poodle with curly ringlet fur. These dogs are highly sought out, and people will buy these dogs, despite that there are basically free dogs roaming the streets that are in a desperate need of a home. Many of the Teddy dog owners adorn their dogs with beautiful clothes, a cute leash, and such. I live in a gated community, (not a fancy one) and half of the dogs are Teddy dogs. Many of the owners bring their Teddy dogs into markets, and even certain restaurants. If anything, it seems that dogs are basically a status symbol. It’s not to say that it right or wrong, it’s just a different mindset, one that I am not yet accustomed to. However, that’s not true for every dog owner. I have seen a few dog owners who genuinely think of their dog as a companion.
Anyways this week by far was the most stressful one. My chinese debit card was not working, and once again I low on cash. I ended up jamming my card into the ATM one last time and grabbed a chunk of cash, enough to last me until I get back from Hong Kong. Although I had many of the weekdays off this week, I was sleep deprived. I was burdened by a huge Data and Research assignment from school. I had only found out about it a few days before it was due as I was casually checking my syllabus on Wednesday morning. Immediately, I had to make a survey and translated in Chinese characters, find a place to print my survey, and distribute my survey at a University. Thank God that I was able to sit in on Evelyn’s and Andi’s university class the next morning to collect my data.
On my way back from collecting data, I was heading towards an automobile trade show a few blocks from the university for another school assignment. As I was walking into the big expo center, I noticed the cutest baby pup playing on the side of the entrance. None of the attendees took notice of her. I had a small bag of dog treats in my backpack, and I handed her a chewy stick. I have dog treats in my bag for the stray dogs that cross my path. I was playing with her and she even let me pick her up. Her paws wrapped around my one arm.
Anyways, she had a string necklace with a jade charm. Her fur was covered in a coat of dirt but I could tell at one point she was groomed. I watched her as she was playing with this medium sized black dog (but big compared to the pup) and he began to scare her. I was talking in my broken Chinese if anybody was the owner of this dog. At some point, I came to the conclusion that shewas either lost or abandoned.
Faced with the decision to go to the tradeshow or get her to a shelter, I decided to take her back to my house in the meantime. I met a unique taxi, driver. Basically, he was very nice and was actually trying to talk to me. He was asking me about the dog. I have an app called Pleco which was recommended by some of my classmates. It translates English words to Chinese words, and it’s meanings in various context. I wanted to tell him that it was a lost dog, so I typed in lost, and I found the pinyin, Mílù 迷路 which means to stray, or lost it’s way. The taxi driver hearing Mílù kept saying it over and over since that was the only thing he understood from our conversation. As he was saying it, I thought that would be a great name for the dog.
As we were conversating, I had this like wave of fear entering into my head. I was thinking to myself this might be a task I am not yet prepared to take. If anyone knows me, it is that I am a huge homebody. I like to keep my room a certain way, and I spend a lot of my time in the confines of my own house. My house is like my safe havan.
I even felt guilty for taking her home, thinking maybe she did have an owner and I just took her away from them. I later got confirmation that she was indeed a Mílù dog. There were various signs that she was a stray. On the first day of her arrival, she pooped by my wardrobe twice and judging from her feces, she has been eating a lot of street food, and garbage. Secondly, when I was giving her a bath, I found many little flea bugs stubbornly stuck to her skin. She had so many that I ended up sitting on my bathroom tiles in my shower room in my regular clothes and started pinching the flea bugs off until they were all gone.
It was a rough first day. Upon cleaning her up and buying all the necessities of keeping a dog, I had to input data, make a codebook, decode my data, and write a whole report about the data. I was up till 3 AM while taking care of the dogs mishaps. The next day, I woke up with being emotionally and physically drained. My boyfriend had suggested that he would take the dog back to the states when he is coming to visit me in December. I was overwhelmed by the report, my job, and the dog that I sent him a long email, telling him I was at my wits end, and that I was thinking about just letting her go.
Bless that man’s heart, because he immediately researched a bunch of ways he could ship the dog. I had such a dramatic welcoming from the dog the first day, I was starting to feel like the dog was too much. However, Brandon gave me various tips on how to take care of her bathroom issue on how to potty train her. To my surprise, since then, each day that I have come home from work, she has waited for me to go potty. She even pees on her training pads, and this happened all during this week. It has been a miracle, a miracle that I know was beyond myself.
After the project, and my busy work schedule this weekend, I got a great night sleep. I bought some new comforters that are super thick that I put on top of my mattress as a cushion. Mattresses in China, are very stiff, way stiffer than my dorm mattress back at my college in Orange County.
I am pleased to say that since the first night of taking in the pup, she has been the most well-behaved animal I have ever encountered. She is endearing, and considerate. She has grown on me in such a short period of time.
I am leaving to go to Hong Kong in a few days to attend my brother’s wedding and just this morning, I found a doggy hotel that will take care of the pup until I get back. The best part is that it is only two blocks away from my home. Again, another miracle. I was so nervous about what to do with her that I was contacting everyone I knew. One of my classmates Kassi wanted to take her into her new home, but the landlord still hasn’t given her an answer. I am grateful that during the time I was at my worst stress level that her willingness to take the pup in gave me hope that the pup would have some place to go next week.
Meanwhile, I am dropping Mílù off to the doggy hotel tomorrow in the morning. Yes, I have named her Mílù. Everything seems back to normal. I am sleeping normally again, I am eating real meals again, (not just boba drinks) and most importantly I am feeling like more myself again.
I learned this week that I can’t whip myself all the time to produce these outcomes that are beyond myself. I am only human and have a lot of limitations and weaknesses. I also learn that when I am stressed it is okay to let people and know and not just harbor it until I explode into a mental breakdown. There are people who are willing to listen and help you if you allow them too. I don’t always have to pretend to be strong when in reality I am crumbling inside.
Another lesson that I learned this week is that there is so much beauty in such big messes. I thought about when I was 19 and I was a hot mess, but there were people who saw my hot mess and saw some glimpse of beauty and took me under their wing and shared with me the good news. They never saw me as who I was at the moment in time, but who I was going to be. Similarily, I so not think of Mílù as a random stray dog, but I think of her as a hidden treasure found on the murky concrete streets. It’s like that saying goes, ” One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” I actually find her to be even more special because she was a stray.
As I take care of Mílù every day, I constantly think about what are the odds of me meeting her, and what exactly prompted me to be so impulsive in bringing her home. The day I brought her home I seriously regretted it so much, but now I see it as a blessing in disguise.
Thanks for all the people who keep me in your minds and thoughts, and sending me blessings!
Until next time,