By Amanda Sinclair
There are many aspects of life whilst living in China. The difference in communication, culture, food, music, fashion, and even animals, and so many more.
So I am a keen animal lover, I have dogs, I have had rabbits, cats, goats, hamsters, chickens, and so many other animals. I love animals so much, that I am a vegetarian. Due to this, I have to admit I was slightly wary about coming to China, where in certain provinces they eat dogs, snakes, rabbits, and every animal I have ever kept as a pet.
When I arrived, I was so pleased to hear other people, native Chinese, saying that they would never eat dogs, that they think it is horrific. But yet there were plenty of people carrying snakes around in bags, and just in their hands, offering them to you, well for you to buy. There are ladies carrying sticks over their shoulders, either end of the stick about 6 or 7 ducks tied to it, by their feet. Or else in bags, attached to the end of the sticks. There are stray dogs walking around, often in packs at night, no cats, that I am aware of.
Again, I will admit that it took a lot to get used to all of this. Especially the shops, when if you are up early enough in the morning, you see the ducks or geese being strangled and plucked.
Having seen these conditions, especially for the ducks, and how they are carried around. A group of teachers at work decided that we would all buy a duck and then release them onto the lake, in the hope that they would actually swim away and survive. That no one would come along and see a free meal just swimming on the lake.
So at lunchtime we all went downstairs, where a lady was waiting for us with the poor animals. My heart immediately went out to them, and we all purchased a duck. The lady did offer to kill them for us, before she realised that we actually wanted them alive. Cradling my duck in my arms, I slowly walked towards the lake. The duck was docile, which was a relief as I have never held a duck before. We reached the lake and let the duck go. It was such an overwhelming feeling. That I had given this duck some freedom before whatever happened. We all felt a sense of relief. A relief for the duck that they might experience freedom and joy, rather than being tied by their feet and carried around.
There are many people in China like me, who love animals. The pet dogs that I have seen are pampered, walked, manicured, and loved so much. There is even a fashion over here at the moment, where animals have their hair dyed to make them look like other animals, such as poodles looking like tigers, or camels. There are poodles with lime green feet and pink ears and tail. Whilst this sounds ridiculous, it at least shows that their owners take care of them and look after them.
So within the first week of living in China, my flatmate and I bought a tank and several fish. They unfortunately didn’t last very long. Then, just over a year ago, a student of mine gave me a puppy. A Teddy Bear puppy. I was shocked and surprised, but at the same time ecstatic. However, she only has three working legs, the other one is crippled. She was born like this, and as a testament to this, I decided to call her Stumpy.
Now, I have a three legged puppy, in an apartment, and to go along with her, a Golden Retriever puppy (Buttercup). Puppies aren’t easy at the best of time, I have lived and helped raise litters of puppies, and it is very tiring. I thought I wouldn’t be able to look after the puppies properly, but since having them, there have been no problems, apart from maybe a lack of sleep.
Obviously I live in a flat, so everything is different. I have had to toilet train them, actually using the equivalent of a puppy toilet, and pads. I have had to protect furniture, and obviously taking them for walks is a lot of exercise when we include the eight flights of stairs. But this hasn’t been a problem as I thought it would have been.
There are plenty of vets around to help, so all the puppies have been properly vaccinated, and the treatment has been that of a Western Standard. Also, four or five other teachers have dogs so we almost have a dog club going on.
Treatment of animals:
Whilst on the surface of things, everything looks so bizarre, with the ducks, snakes, tortoises, dogs and so many animals, but yet this goes on back home, but just not so openly. There is no pretence in China as to what the animals are for. Neither are the people unaware of where their meat comes from. They are willing to go out there and kill their own meat. At the same time, they also know how to look after and treat their pets. There is a little animosity towards stray dogs, and as a result they are slightly scared of some dogs, that they may bite them or attack them. Even with this fear though, people haven’t mistreated the stray animals. There is a sense of love for all animals. Something I didn’t really expect when thinking of China.