A Dog’s Life ...


There have been moments when we questioned the addition of Cookie to our pet menagerie. Our movements have been constrained and our once immaculately clean house, is a puppy playpen. She possesses the strength and energy of three dogs and is only eleven kilos to date. Her love of swimming and roughhousing with King and a neighbor dog leaves her in need of a good cleanup and blow-dry before reentering the house.

Our two older males will have nothing to do with her and dispatch her with a growl and show of teeth. Other adult neighbor dogs, who come to scavenge leftovers from our dog bowls, seem to respect that this is Cookie’s house and not theirs. Mainly they ignore her and she is learning to read their postures.

The professionals talk forcefully of confinement and “crating” and having one handler of a dog. The wife and I share our dogs equally, however, and are a little soft on the confinement thing. Trial and error over the first few sleepless nights, led to Cookie sleeping in a cage in our bedroom at night. At first there were protests but much less than putting her in another room. Again not being overly forceful, we started letting her settle down and go to sleep on the floor before placing her in her cage.

Perhaps it took longer but last night we had a breakthrough. We were not in bed yet, and the lights were not out but I thought to ask Cookie if she wanted to go to bed yet. Like a proud daddy, I beamed as she proceeded to enter her cage and go to bed, with no protest whatsoever. Ah, the joy of small victories. She is also getting very good at letting us know when she needs to go out. We are a little troubled by the fact that she is already aware of the use and purpose of door handles. For now she is unable to reach them and fortunately we have door knobs instead of levers.

As for the two older dogs, they had a bit of a shock yesterday. We had a local veterinarian out, for a bout of Nip & Tuck, for population control and personality modification, you understand. Mo-Mo and Soda had their family jewels removed along with those of the mother-in-law’s cat. The wife and I were a bit squeamish about the whole thing. Just the thought of the “unkindest cut” was enough, but we had to be assistants. It was a very hands-on event.

This action had long been contemplated but things came to a head recently. On one occasion Mo-Mo came home after nearly two weeks of girl chasing, and looked near death. It is that time again, around the village, and the “boys” are all fighting over a chance with the “girls”. Soda was mending a bad bite on his back leg while Mo-Mo’s face has looked better.

Living in a village, none of the “Western” rules apply. Dogs are expected to be loud, aggressive, territorial and protect the house and possessions. Dogs are not confined or leashed. They are however beaten on occasion and those who transgress, by biting people or killing livestock, are served up at a small ramshackle hut on the side of the road. Unlike Korea, it is not the national dish, but it does happen. It even finds its way into local humor as some have teased me about the price per kilo. Enough said on that subject.

King was neutered at a young age, and though he barks ferociously, is not the one to start fights, unlike the other two. Not sure if it will make a difference immediately, but over time, we hope to see improvements in behavior. The locals are skeptical of our relationship with our dogs and no doubt get a laugh out of some of our actions and concerns. Today, Mo-Mo and Soda were quite hungover, and stumbled around like drunken sailors.

Later in the day they were doing well enough, that we drove to the main market in our area for some fresh produce. On our return we were surprised to find our way home block by Mo-Mo, “locked” as it were, in the throws of amour. Presumably he was shooting blanks and it must have been quite painful. He has always been the type to get down to business and save the small talk for the clenches, afterwards. Apparently it will take him awhile to accept his new reality.

Living with animals fills ones life with humor and affection, in addition to all the irritation and destruction of puppyhood. Would we do it again, knowing what we now know? My wife’s answer was fifty, fifty. That is a pretty good assessment for now, but the numbers are moving daily in the direction of “YES” as Cookie incorporates herself into our daily lives.