This past weekend I did something that I’ve been meaning to do my whole year and a half here. I volunteered at the local dog shelter, Daejeon Paws.
Quick information about the shelter… Ms Jung (who is absolutely lovely!!!) is a pensioner who was forced to relocate herself and her dogs with very limited resources a few years ago. They have relocated to a small house in Galma-dong, which is about 10 minutes from where I live. She actually lives at this house (which is only slightly larger than my apartment) with all of her animals. Most of the dogs have been with her for multiple years. You can learn much more about her and the shelter (and view dogs waiting for adoption!) at their website -http://www.animalrescuekorea.org/animal-shelters/daejeon-paws.
Sunday a small group of us met at the Wolpyeong Subway stop, and took a taxi from there. It’s a little complicated to locate on your own but there are directions and a map on the above mentioned link.
While I was fully prepared to spend an afternoon cleaning cages and scrubbing floors, it turned out to be way more fun! Basically as volunteers, our sole responsibility was to walk, love/hold/hug and kiss, and give our undivided attention to these awesome animals. Charlie was kind enough to share his galbi dinner from the night before so I took two large bags of meat with me to the shelter. Needless to say, they loved it.
This is one room in the shelter. It’s definitely not like anything you would see at home. While part of me feels sad for these animals that they don’t have much room to play, the other part of me thinks that they have a much higher quality of life than the dogs at shelters in America. These dogs are friends. They definitely don’t seem unhappy here. It’s more like a doggie daycare than the miserable cement cells of the Humane Society.
This is Wooju, the first little boy I walked. He was a stereotypical schnauzer. He was so good! So excited and outgoing. And I like this picture because he looks like a giant!
Beautiful little boy!!! 메시 is his name, after Messi the famous soccer player. He’s a 4 year old, healthy, wonderfully natured poodle. He’s exactly the mental checklist I’ve had for a few years now for my next dog (meaning Charlie’s sibling, not replacement). If I knew I was heading home in the Fall for good, I’d have brought him home with me that day. However, plans are yet to be decided and a second dog would only further complicate matters. Maybe I can foster for a bit. (That’s probably a bad idea. I know this, don’t worry.)
Jindo alley. Jindo dogs are amazing! I’ve actually wanted to write a blog about them in the past but never really had the time since it would require a quite a bit of research. These dogs are amazingly intelligent and loyal. (and energetic!) Jindos are native to Korea and are only allowed to leave the country for two reasons. 1. For show purposes when they will be returned to Korea. or 2. If that specific dog doesn’t meet the high standards set for the breed. ie. mixed breed or clearance puppy.
Enter clearance puppy. He has a little bit of a cleft lip problem. While I feel confident that this was caused more from a disgreement with another Jindo versus an actual birth defect, I think she’s beautiful! She also has something going on with her fur, but that’s what vets are for.
It was about the time that I was walking this sweet girl that I became beyond frustrated that none of these dogs would listen to my commands. “Come!” “Stop!” “Sit!” Then it occurred me…these dogs don’t speak English. They speak Korean. Argh.
And… not clearance puppy. This is a beautiful Jindo. She was a bit too energetic for me to get a good picture of but trust me, she was gorgeous and an absolute pleasure to walk.
The day was wonderful. I spent the afternoon with some great animals and made a few new friends. I already have plans to go back this Sunday and hope to make it more of a routine. As beneficial as it is for the dogs to have us come and visit often, I think it was equally, if not moreso, beneficial for me. Animals bring me a kind of joy that few other experiences in life have been able to compare with. Many of the dogs here have been in the shelter for years. Some were rescued from meat markets. They deserve a good life. They deserve a family. And while I am obviously not in a position to adopt anyone at the moment (although I would LOVE too!), Charlie and I are going to see what we can do to make their lives a bit more comfortable while we are here.
Again, if you are in Korea and interested in volunteering, donating funds or supplies, adopting or fostering, you can get all the information you need at http://www.animalrescuekorea.org/animal-shelters/daejeon-paws. Ms Jung has a G-Market account that you are able to make donations directly to. This way she can order all her supplies online and they will deliver it directly to her front door.