Meet … Jinjja???
It’s a Korean word — sort of the equivalent to our “Really???”
He’s a Jindo, or more likely a Jindo mix, rescued from a dog farm in South Korea and transported to the U.S., where he ended up at the Watauga Humane Society — one of five humane societies in North Carolina that recently accepted 31 dogs that were saved from ending up as meat.
The shipment was the latest in a continuing series by Humane Society International, which works with animal welfare groups in Korea to obtain the dogs by persuading the farmers to forfeit them and go into a new line of work.
Jinjja, who is the color of ginger, will be the new mascot for ohmidog!
He came home with me Thursday, and has becoming a little more sociable and playful everyday since.
He spent the first day pacing, and giving me wary sideways looks. The second day he began approaching me without too much hesitation. Saturday was the first day he sat down — at least within my view. Sunday was the first day I actually saw him lay down.
As his shyness recedes, his personality comes forth — playful, loving (once he gets used to you), ultra alert, and I suspect, once he comes entirely out of his shell, highly energetic.
Several times I tried to sneak into the room he has chosen to sleep in — he has opted not to bed down with me so far — but he always hears me coming, gets up and meets me as I enter.
He is fearful of sudden movements and unexpected noises, and seems unfamiliar with things like TV sets and running water — but each day, less so.
The humane society in Boone sent two of the four Korean dogs they accepted home with new owners Thursday. A third is awaiting adoption. And a fourth will stay there a little longer for additional training through the shelter’s Diamond Dogs program.
A video of the turning over of the leashes — it was live streamed on Good Morning America as part of its Mission PAWsible series — is at the bottom of this post.
The woman in charge of the shelter’s Diamond Dog program gave me a few pieces of parting advice — give him a couple of weeks just to get accustomed to his new surroundings, always bring my hand up to pet him from beneath his line of vision, not from above, and don’t try to manipulate or maneuver him. He has shown he doesn’t like that.
He’s now in a period of just getting used to things, so for a couple of weeks I won’t attempt anything much discipline-wise other than politely informing him where not to pee.
(I did look up the Korean word for “sit,” just to see if he’d respond. He didn’t.)
He has shown no destructive tendencies so far, and has declined, even when invited, to jump up on the sofa or bed. He has emitted only a few barks — usually only upon seeing squirrel or cat out the window. He has been good with the handful of people and dogs he has met.
I do my best not to have Ace expectations. It would be unfair to him, especially given his background, to hold him to the standard of Ace, the gentle giant I traversed the country with.
Could Jinnja become a therapy dog, like Ace did, despite Ace’s being the size of a small pony and made up of four breeds commonly labeled “dangerous” — Rottweiler, pit bull, Akita and chow? I think there’s a good chance of that.
Just as I found Ace while reporting a story, I met Jinnja (then Jindol) when I went to Boone to meet the dogs who had arrived from Korea. You can find those stories here and here.
The shelter let me spend 15 minutes inside the kennel of each one, even though they were still under quarantine at the time. One came nowhere close to me; two got close enough to give me a sniff. The fourth, Jinnja, was the only one to let me pet him.
Underneath all the fear, I saw something in him, as I did with Ace when I bumped into him at Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care. Don’t ask me to put my finger on it, but it was enough for me to apply to adopt him.
My hope is that just as Ace became an ambassador for pit bulls and all wrongly labeled “dangerous” breeds, Jinjja will show that “farm dogs” despite all the cruel treatment they are subjected to and the cruel fates they usually face, can be great pets, too.
Jinjja has a ways to go to become the traveling dog Ace was. Leaving the shelter, he refused to jump into the back of my Jeep. Picking him up, it was decided, should be avoided. So the shelter loaned me a crate. Once inside it, we lifted him aboard, and he was calm and quiet for the whole 90-minute ride home.
Of the four Korean dogs at the shelter, Lucy went home with a Raleigh woman, Jindol (his shelter name) went home with me. Princess is still available, and Murphy will stay a little longer to work on his socialization skills.
Jinjja was supposed to be neutered the day before I picked him up, but when the shelter brought him to the vet it was discovered he already had been. It’s not likely that happened at a dog farm, so speculation is that before that he was someone’s pet and was either stolen or strayed before ending up at the dog farm in Jongju.
It is taking him some time to get used to my house. He gets startled when he sees his reflection in the sliding glass doors, the fireplace doors or the front of the oven.
For three days he avoided being in a room when the television was on.
Based on our time together so far, though, I have the highest of hopes. He still has sides to his personality I haven’t seen, I’m sure, but he’s doing a great job of adjusting — and those who freed and sheltered him deserve all of the credit for that.
Let’s get that part straight right from the start. He’s a rescued dog, but if you ever hear me say I “rescued” him, slap me in the face.
As is the case in any dog adoption, the human is getting far more out of the deal. And any truly noble acts took place before he came to me — by the activists who made efforts to get the dogs off the farm, by Humane Society International, which transported them, by the shelters in the U.S. that took them in.
Those were the noble deeds. Me? I’m just getting a dog, though I do admit to feeling good that I’m a small part of getting one dog off a dog farm.
It was while I was in Korea, researching my book on dog cloning, that I first saw in person some sides of the dog meat trade. I visited an outdoor market where they were on display, packed together in crowded crates, while alive, and butchered on site. One can’t see that sight and not want to do something about it.
So expect more reporting about the campaign to end the practice in the months ahead on this website, and expect more photos and stories about Jinjja’s adjustment.
Given he’s a dog with a story to tell, I will assist in that.
One more thing I cannot take credit for — his name. Looking for something that sounded a little like Jindol — but didn’t remind me of the Louisiana politician I’m not a fan of — I contacted a friend from Korea, who presented the matter to her family.
Among those they came up with were Ginger, which perfectly describes his color (not to mention the way he walks) and Jinjja.
Really??? It’s the reaction most common among those with whom I’ve shared some of his story. Astonishment. Disbelief. Not entirely unlike the phrase “ohmigod!” from which this website derives its name.
So it will be Jinjja, with an optional question mark or exclamation point.
Oh there he is, laying at my feet as I type, just like Ace used to do.
Even though the TV is on.
(Photos by Ted Woestendiek)