Today is the three-year anniversary of adopting my dog, The Dude. It’s a miraculous story how he ended up here in San Francisco with me, all thanks to the kindness of strangers.
The first year of his life is a mystery, but somehow this Beagle/Bassett mix found himself wandering the streets of Taipei. Students at a university actually found him on a bus, and took him back to their dorm, but couldn’t take care of him for long. They saw a flier about dog rescue and called Chia-wen, the guardian angel of dogs unlucky enough to be strays in that city. According to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, Taiwan is the worst place in the world for stray animals, and there are over a million stray dogs. When they are captured and taken to a public pound, the majority are euthanized, often in inhumane ways like drowning and electrocution.
Chia-wen is on a one-woman mission to save the strays of Taipei from this fate. She knows she can only make a small difference, and that the only way to solve the larger problem is for Taiwan to implement a more aggressive spaying and neutering program (which she is helping to do on a grassroots level), but she does what she can. To date, she has found homes for over 300 dogs, all while keeping her day job. Plus, she has kept four of them herself.
She zoomed over on her scooter and picked Dude up from the students, got him neutered, placed him in a kennel and kept him there with her own money for almost a year, taking him out every weekend to try to get him adopted. When she finally accepted that at fifty pounds he was just too big for families in Taipei to consider taking home, she decided to send him to the United States. She contacted Wonder Dog Rescue in San Francisco and found out they had room for him. Then she found someone who was flying to the US who agreed to check Dude in as baggage. Chia-wen has done this many times, sending dogs to the States and to Germany. She pays for the crates and any shipping charges, and arranges for them to be picked up at the airport.
Once he got to Wonder Dog, they quarantined him and made sure he was healthy, then he stayed at a foster home in Burlingame for about a month, until I saw a posting about him on craigslist and brought him home with me. Now he lives a dog’s dream life, going out with me on long walks, and acting as poster boy for the collars I make. $1 of each sale of The Good Life collars goes to organizations like Wonder Dog and to support Chia-wen’s solo efforts.
You can check Wonder Dog Rescue and Chia-wen’s blogs to see dogs available for adoption, to donate to their wonderful causes, volunteer to be a foster parent, or to check in a dog as baggage if you’re flying out of Taiwan. (Just a warning, the pictures of strays on Chia-wen’s blog are sometimes very graphic in documenting the level of medical attention they need when she finds them. It could break your heart.)