Why does watching a dog be a dog fill one with happiness? And why does it make one feel, in the best sense of the word, human?
Jonathan Safran Foer
Some may remember that before I came to Korea I had said I wanted to eat dog so that I could add that to the list of things I can say that I have done. Afterall, whether or not I eat dog soup has no effect on the dog soup industry in this country. But I have changed my mind.
I have asked a few people why Koreans have dogs. I mean, why acquire an animal for the express purpose of tying it to a fixed object and never once scratching it behind the ears? Ok, so there are Americans who abuse animals, and badly, and there are Koreans who don’t. The dog that lives at my cell phone store seems very happy and well groomed, and there are a few whom I used to think were stray, but might actually be more “free range.” But there are also dogs I see every day that live their entire lives on the three foot radius of their leashes and on a diet of tofu and rice. Oh, and some well cared for pet dogs also have to suffer the indignity of having their ears dyed pink. They are, as this article says, fashion items. With their own fashion items. I tried very hard to find a good picture of a pink-eared dog in a cardigan with matching shoes, but my search criteria are saturated by sites about dog meat.
My neighbor dog, whom I call Mr. Dog, I can occasionally talk to in a certain voice that prevents him from barking at me or running underneath the parked car that he is tied to. It took us months to get to that point. That is his life: under a parked car, eating tofu, and barking at anything that goes by.
I also feel very sorry for my friend, whom I call Little Dog. He is a puppy and has not been ruined yet. He maybe doesn’t realize that he will never get to run. Whenever I walk by I say hello and now he doesn’t pee himself, instead rolls onto his back because I know the spot to scratch. A few times I have tried to walk by without saying hello, say on days that my pants are particularly clean, but he wines. But I wonder, as he snuffles in my ear, if I’m only adding to the disservice by spending only a few minutes, every couple of days when eventually I will leave completely and he’ll have no one to scratch his spot, but know that the spot is there and that people aren’t scratching it.
I hope I’m being pessimistic. But I just spent entirely too much time looking at pictures of dog meat markets on the internet. According to the internet people say dog meat increases virility and that’s why they eat it. Little Dog is a similar kind of dog to the ones they say are good for eating.
I don’t remember how I found it, but this expat living in Korea has a website called Lonely Lifetime, which seems apt. There are videos.