Sunday, January 26, 2014

Introducing Charlie: A one-eyed foster dog in Shanghai

Introducing, Charlie, formerly known as Shaoli.

Why we decided to foster

The Irishman and I love dogs. We got fleas once by playing with a dog tied up outside of a pharmacy in Toronto. (Sorry about that, again, T...) Being Responsible Grown Ups (hellooooo, wedding rings = totally legit adults), we haven't adopted a dog into our international crazy life. As much as we want to expand our family with a four legged baby, we know it wouldn't be the right thing to do without confidence that we could take him or her to our next destination, wherever and whenever that may be.

Rewind to late November when I met Juniper, my friend Claire's beautiful and friendly foster feline. I casually asked if there were foster dogs available. I thought maybe in the new year we could consider it.

Well, the next day, at an adoption day in Shanghai, Claire met Charlie. (For more information on adopting pets in Shanghai, check out this list from TimeOut.)
Love at first sight. Er...

How we met Charlie

This 8 kg ~ 2 year old wiggling King Charles-esq pup had recently been hit by a car, abandoned by its previous owners, and had surgery on his right eye. He was found by a volunteer for a rescue non-profit who was unable to foster him. Because he was recovering and vulnerable, he couldn't be around other pets, ruling out the other foster families. He stunk horribly because they didn't want to wash him and risk getting water in his eye. His eye area was so swollen that, with little Chinese to ask questions, we agreed to take him, not knowing if he had lost an eye.

When Claire saw him, she knew I, who recently completed intensive Chinese studies and would likely be staying at home until Christmas, and the Irishman would fall in love. We rushed across the river to Puxi to meet our new companion.

Our inability to speak Chinese made things confusing. The rescuer had no idea if he'd had any of his vaccinations. We don't have a car or extra funds to pay for medical care. Claire's friend who rescues cats helpfully translated for us and insisted that we could only help if the medical costs were covered. Thankfully, the rescue organization that decided to step in offered to pay the costs and drive him over to our place later that night. Run entirely by volunteers with minimal donations, these people saved Charlie's life and are some of the kindest people I have met in my life.

The rescue organization arranged for him to get his shots and meds for deworming and defleaing. They dropped him off at our place as we scrambled to equip our house for its newest inhabitant. (Although, of course, he'd rather nap on our couch than do just about anything else.)
Our first walk was horrible. Every time the surface he was walking on would change (from, say, tile to asphalt), he would stop dead in his tracks. Where we live, the surface changes very frequently: about 10 times within the first 5 minutes of leaving our door. Walking two blocks to meet up with a friend took nearly 20 minutes. By our 3rd walk the next day, he was happily trotting along with me through the paths of our apartment compound.

He was a very easy dog. I pet him and played with him a lot, especially in the first few days. Well behaved, obviously well-trained by the people who left him for dead, and enthusiastic about people and food, he was a great addition to our home. For 3 weeks, my days were filled with snuggles, tug of war, and walks. (I mean, job hunting.)

Sadly, the story doesn't end there and poor Charlie has had a rough go since late December. More on that another day.

He still loves the crap out of us, thankfully, and we feel the same way.

If you're in China and interested in helping Charlie and other animals that need help in Shanghai, please consider using *link contains graphic photos of his injuries* Taobao to donate. The default donation is only 10 RMB (about $1.60). Charlie's medical costs alone have been hundreds of dollars, paid for by donations. The rescue organization is run entirely by volunteers. We only pay for his toys and most of his food.

If you are outside of China or unable to use Taobao to donate and want to help out, please email me!

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