Miss Gioia

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Frankie's Story

People are often suprised when we tell them that Frankie came with us to China. My standard response is - If Frankie didn't go, we weren't going. Frankie is family. There was no choice.

Getting him to China was suprisingly easy. At the time we moved, there was a one month quarantine in Shanghai, but it could be done in your house. So essentially we brought him straight to the apartment from the plane. We used Globy Pet Relocation. Best $600 ever spent. The US has no quarantine either, by the way, so returning shouldn't be difficult.

Once we settled in, however, things got weird. You see, Chinese people are not used to dogs. Not at all. I have seen an astounding number of grown men scream like little girls at the mere sight of Frankie. Dogs as pets is a relatively new phenomenon, so most people have had only intimidating experiences with country dogs. All this fear had led to some odd, even scary laws. For example, we are not legally allowed to walk Frankie outside during daylight. He must be licensed, which in Shanghai means paying the pet professionals $200 plus $250 in license fees to get the paperwork processed. If the dog is not licensed, then he can be taken by the police. Survival beyond 24 hours once that happens is extremely rare.

Less than a year after moving to China, we read news reports of serious dog massacres in two separate towns. There had been some rabies outbreaks, and the local leaders responded by ordering every dog killed - licensed or not, vaccinated or not. It was one of the most horrific, ignorant rulings I have personnally witnessed. We were very afraid for Frankie that week. But surely that would never happen in the big cities, like modern Shanghai. Surely.

Later that fall, we moved to Beijing where dog laws are much stricter. We were not allowed to live in the city center because Frankie is too tall; he is above 35 cm. Many people told us to not worry about the law - that many people keep dogs illegally in the city. But we are Americans, and we felt uncomfortable with the idea of non-compliance. So we chose a home far from downtown.

It was a good thing we did because, less than a month later, the Beijing dog killings began. Illegal dogs all over the city were ordered "cleansed." Some were beaten to death right in front of their owners. Others were taken away to be killed. Then we heard rumors that the police were coming out to our neighborhoods, where we were supposedly legal, licensed and safe, to check for big dogs. I have never been so frightened in my entire life. I spent one whole night lying with Frankie on the bed with my heart twisted in knots. If they had killed my dog, I would have lost my mind. Literally.

International pressure forced the President of China to reverse the death order less than a month later. It was an awful, awful time. Chris and I said that it was like Anne Frank for dogs, with everyone hiding their family members in the basement. Since then, things have been better.

Frankie is family, and I cannot imagine life without him. Sometimes China can be scary, bone numbingly scary. And now you know.

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Blogger J said...

Wow! Yowzah!

May 2, 2007 8:49 PM  
Blogger Zylo said...

So I think you've just scared the crap out of most of us. I don't even have a dog, but if they messed with my cats... I don't think I could be responsible for my actions.

September 1, 2007 6:06 AM  

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