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Tag: jinjja

Close encounter of the Great Dane kind


I was hit by a truck over the weekend.

Well, it was a Great Dane, but same difference.

He was a regal beast, and a gentle one, and I don’t think he even saw me until I was up in the air.

He’d come into the dog park, greeted those already there, and when one started chasing him he took off, looking behind him at the dog in pursuit as he gained full momentum.

That’s when he ran smack into me. I saw him coming, and debated veering to one side or another, but the feet have been a little slow to take orders lately.

So all of me went up into the air, where I floated, limbs akimbo, for at least a second before landing with a thud on my side.

The owner immediately approached and asked if I was ok.

I needed a few minutes to figure that out, and a few more to get off the ground.

The owner offered his hand to pull me up, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be up, or if getting pulled up by my arm might not be good for the shoulder that was bothering me before any of this happened.

So I laid there, checked to see if my various parts would move and thanked my own dog, Jinjja, when he came over to check on me — not the sort of thing he usually does as he’s mostly in his own world when he’s at the dog park.

I struggled to get on my knees and then all the way up, dusted myself off and — though the breath that had been knocked out of me hadn’t yet returned — pronounced myself OK.

Embarrassed about being on the ground, embarrassed by how long it took me to get up. But OK, thought.

I spent a few more minutes inside the park, during which time Jinjja would growl at the Great Dane whenever he got close to me, and come back to check on me a few more times.

I was touched, and deemed it progress. For this is a dog that, rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea, has never been great at showing affection, other than enjoying a butt scratch. So I considered it a breakthrough, and one that apparently didn’t involve any parts of me getting broken.

Sore yes — but not broken, or at least I didn’t think so for the next few hours.

Jinjja and I left the dog park a few minutes later, stopping to sit at a nearby picnic table just to regain my composure. The three young women sitting at the next table with their dogs having a picnic asked if I was OK and — all being medical students on the verge of becoming physician assistants — ran me through a checklist of questions, showing vastly more concern than the dog’s owner did.

We decided I would live, and — once their attentions shifted to another dog walking by with a hurt paw — I moved on, proud that nothing had snapped upon impact.

Now, the next day, I’m pretty sure something did, a rib to be precise.

The pain set in during the night, a pretty sharp one when I moved, took a deep breath or –heaven forbid — coughed.

I broke a rib once before and did nothing about it, which as it turns out it is pretty much what doctors do too. You just wait for it to heal. I didn’t visit one then, and I’m still debating what to do now. But I’m pretty sure I don’t want to spend $1,000 for tests and doctors that will tell me I broke a rib and there’s really nothing to be done about it.

Fault? That’s not a factor. Dogs, big and small, will run at dog parks, and not always watch where they are going. Great Danes? They are one of my most favorite breeds, and their clumsiness is part of their appeal. I was too old and slow — neither of which is particularly appealing –to get out of the way. That’s on me. Those who worry about being run over by a dog, should stick to the benches on the sidelines.

So no hard feelings, Great Dane. I hope I run into you again (preferably without you running into me).

And to Jinjja, and those physicians assistants-to-be, thanks for showing you care.

(Photo: An old Great Dane friend from Baltimore, named Soju, who has nothing to with this story)

Bill to prohibit eating dog and cat makes gains in Congress


Lawmakers in Washington are pushing ahead with legislation that would ban the eating of dog and cat meat in the U.S.

The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2017, first introduced in March, has 100 co-sponsors and has been referred to a House Agriculture subcommittee.

Introduced by Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), it would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to establish legal standards against selling dog and cat meat, currently allowed in 44 states.

“We are very happy to have the support of so many activists who have taken up this issue with their own members of Congress,” Hastings told The Hill Thursday.

jindolBackers of the bill hope that it fills gaps in the animal protection law, and sends a message to Asian countries where dog meat is still consumed, including South Korea and China, where the annual Yulin festival in China sees thousands of dogs and cats are publicly killed and skinned, and their meat marketed for human consumption.

Animal rights activists are hoping publicity about the upcoming festival will provide momentum to the bill in Congress, and that the bill, similarly, will fuel opposition to the festival.

“I think that some people initially considered the idea of killing dogs for meat far-fetched,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told The Hill. “But the very real butchering of dogs in Yulin reminds people that it is a very serious and disturbing issue.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Hastings introduced a resolution condemning the festival, which now has 166 co-sponsors from both parties.

While dog meat consumption in the U.S. is limited, most states still allow dogs to be raised and sold for meat. Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York and Virginia have banned such practices.

(Photos: At top, dogs awaiting slaughter at a street market near Seoul; lower, my favorite meat dog, Jinjja, rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea; photos by John Woestendiek)

A little reminder from Jinjja and me

A friend came across this ABC News video from a year and a half ago, depicting more than 30 dogs rescued from a meat farm in Korea on their way to shelters in North Carolina to be put up for adoption.

As she guessed, the second dog to last dog shown in the video, is — though Jindos can look pretty similar — the one that now belongs to me, I think.

jindolJinjja is his name.

He has come a long way since this news footage (which I’d never seen) was shot — turning from a virtually wild dog scared of everything to a trusting and loyal companion.

I thought, with the 2018 Winter Olympics concluding, with the controversial dog meat trade having diverted only a little focus from the games, this would be a good time to remember that a small minority of Koreans eat dog.

Despite government efforts to suspend or at least better hide the practice, dog meat was still being served in restaurants in PyeongChang, and numerous dog farms are located within just miles of Olympic venues.

With all those inspiring moments of athletic achievement we watched, all those examples of humans trying to be their best, it was easy to ignore that harsh reality — that one to two million farm dogs are butchered each year in South Korea.

Some news media used the Olympics as an opportunity to remind us of it. Others, like NBC, barely touched on it — apparently not wanting to turns its spotlight from those inspiring moments of athletic achievement. Instead, it presented South Korea’s best side, and that best side is a truly great side.

But South Korea has a worst side, too, and yes, we just reminded you of it.

Some would say eating dog meat is part of Korean culture, and thus deserves to be free from criticism, but it doesn’t — not anymore than the tradition of slavery in America deserves to be excused, forgotten or forgiven.

gus-kenworthy-matt-wilkas-dogBefore the Olympics was a good time to let South Korea know, as many did, what the rest of the world thinks about the practice. During the Olympics was a good time too, and some Olympians even did.

In addition to the other Olympians who were planning to help a Korean farm dog get to the U.S., one, Gus Kenworthy, a member of the US. Olympic ski team, also took action.

Kenworthy, who brought home a rescue dog after the Sochi Olympics, visited a dog farm near PyeongChang in the process of being closed by Humane Society International and left with a puppy named Beemo, according to PEOPLE magazine.

He didn’t single-handedly rescue 90 dogs from the farm, as a Fox News headline shouted: “US Olympian Gus Gus Kenworthy rescues 90 dogs from Korean dog meat farm.” But he did assist Humane Society International in gathering up the dogs and arranged to adopt one of them.

Hyped as reports like that might be, photo ops that they might be, its good so see some attention on the issue.

If it’s one you feel strongly about, express that somehow. Comment here, or elsewhere, or sign a petition. Contribute to Humane Society International’s program that cuts deals with the dog farmers to close their farms, and brings the dogs to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. Provide a home to one of those who end up here.

You won’t get a gold medal for it. But you might keep one dog from ending up on a dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And for that you can feel proud.

(Bottom photo: Gus Kenworthy /Instagram)

Few restaurants comply with official request to stop serving dog meat during Olympics


As the Winter Olympics got underway in PyeongChang, dog meat was still being openly served in most restaurants that offer it, despite attempts by the government to keep a lid on the practice.

The South Korean government had requested restaurants cease the practice and even offered subsidies to those that did, but only two of the 12 restaurants serving dog meat in PyeongChang complied, a county government official told AFP.

A minority of South Koreans still consume dog meat — most commonly in a soup called boshintang — many of them in the belief it leads to increased energy during the hot summer months.

Between 1 and 2 million dogs a year across the country a year are butchered and sold at markets and to restaurants.

Well before the Olympics began, activists stepped up campaigns to ban dog consumption, with protests in Seoul and online petitions urging boycotts.

In PyeongChang, the county government asked the restaurants with dog meat items on the menu to stop serving the food in exchange for subsidies.

“Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply. They then switched back to dog meat,” PyeongChang County government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP.

“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” he said.

Signs advertising dog meat dishes such as boshintang, yeongyangtang or sacheoltang have been replaced with more neutral ones such as yeomsotang (goat soup) to avoid giving “a bad impression to foreigners” during the games, according to Channel News Asia.

South Korean authorities periodically try to persuade restaurants to change their menus or drop signs suggestive of dog meat during major international events hosted by the country, as was the case with the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988.

The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, and most younger South Koreans avoid it.

A Gangwon province official told The Associated Press there were no plans to relocate dog farms situated near Olympic areas. There is one farm near Pyeongchang; six near Jeongseon, where the downhill skiing course is located; and 10 in Gangnueng, the coastal town that will host events like figure skating and hockey. Gangwon has 196 registered dog farms, though most are closer to Seoul.

While NBC isn’t too likely to be showing us any of the during its Olympics coverage, USA Today provided a fairly expansive report on one such farm today

Hundreds of dogs have been removed from Korean dog farms by Humane Society International and sent to the United States for adoption, including mine, a Jindo named Jinjja.

The group assists the farmers in establishing new careers in exchange for closing down and surrendering their dogs.

duhamel2One Olympic competitor, Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel escorted two rescued farm dogs on a flight back to Canada after competing in a qualifying event last year in PyenongChang.

Duhamel adopted one of them, through the group Free Korean Dogs.

“Most of the time, he just wants to sit in everybody’s arms,” Duhamel said of the dachshund mix, named Moo-tae. “He doesn’t even care to play, he just walks up to everybody and wants to be held.”

Duhamel, a silver medalist in Sochi, is hoping to assist in closing a dog farm once the Olympics conclude. She, American skier Gus Kenworthy and American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis have appeared in a public service announcement about the dog meat trade.

Duhamel has arranged to fly home another rescued farm dog when she returns to Canada, so it can be put up for adoption there, according to CBS News.

(Photos: At top, Park Young-ae, owner of Young Hoon Restaurant, arranges dog meats at her restaurant in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Associated Press; photo of Duhamel and Moo-tae, courtesy of Free Korean Dogs)

The dog park is working wonders for Jinjja

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Jinjja’s transition from a dog destined for the butcher block to a trusting family pet continues to slowly but steadily move ahead — sometimes, so gradually that major breakthroughs probably go unnoticed, even by an observer as astute as I.

(“Stop observing me so astutely,” he’d probably say if he could talk. “And check that grammar. You’re nowhere near as astute as you think you are.”)

journeyAt the dog park, he still gets a little bit growly (but not aggressive) when dogs larger than he approach him too rambunctiously. He still spends some of the time going to a remote corner by himself.

But gradually (like everything else with this dog) he is coming to frolic with other dogs in the park, to approach a select few people and sometimes (with females of the human species) even let them pet him.

And last week, for the first time, he went a little farther than chasing and running with other dogs. He full on played with one, with hardly any of the growliness, with actual body contact, as in nearly wrestling, for at least a full minute.

DSC06712Her name is Moro, a Siberian Husky pup who is about Jinjja’s size — though that will change quickly.

With dogs smaller than he, Jinjja exhibits none of the growly behavior. And with Moro, for some reason, he was enamored — enamored like he is with any new dog entering the park. But this time, it lasted a while. He followed her everywhere she went.

DSC06747In addition to being the right size, Moro was the right temperament for him. She didn’t charge in and get in his face, didn’t attempt immediate wrestling. Instead she scurried under the bench for humans and observed what was going on, coming out after she felt comfortable, and taking her time getting to know other dogs.

She’s also soft and fluffy as a powder puff, and sweet smelling, though I’m guessing neither of those things matter to Jinjja.

In any event, it was the first time I’d seen him go into a play stance while off the leash — and proceed to play.

I’d have to say the dog park may be responsible for the biggest strides he has made in terms of socialization since he was rescued from a farm in South Korea where he was being raised as a farm animal to be slaughtered for his meat.

DSC06773We started going right after I was recovered enough from a surgery to check out the new dog park that opened just down the road — actually a little before it opened.

We go nearly every day now.

Jinjja, while he has grown totally comfortable with me, remains skittish around most people. Maybe upon a third meeting, maybe after you’d given him a treat or two, he’ll let you pet him, but he generally avoids the touch of humans until he gets to know them.

DSC06796

Moro’s owner was an exception to that rule. She seems to hold a special appeal to Jinjja. He’ll approach her far quicker than any other human in the park, and make it clear he wants to be petted. Maybe it’s because he has met her three times now, or because she smells like Moro, or because she smells like other dogs from working at a doggie day care. Or maybe she just has a way with dogs.

DSC06704

Connections like that — new dogs, new humans — go a long way in helping Jinjja with his transition.

His stay with another family during my hospitalization and recovery also led to improvements in his sociability. After living for two months with three other humans and two other dogs, I noticed a big change in him he came back home.

Last week there was a second breakthrough as well: Jinjja let my brother, who has known him for almost a year now, reach out and pet him, which is generally followed by “please, scratch away, especially right here in the butt region, which I will now shove toward you.”

He has never growled at humans, but he does generally growl, and raise his hackles, when a new dog, or even a large familiar one, attempts to play with him.

I’m not sure of the best way, training-wise, to address that, and I guess it’s more a matter of more time with more company. We hope to get back into the training class we had to drop out of due to illness.

But overall, his growliness has gone way down. (Unlike mine, which remains about the same.)

DSC06800A few days ago, Jinjja even met another Korean dog at the park — or at least one whose owner suspects he came from there. Toby, who he got from a shelter, appears to be a Sapsaree, a breed produced primarily if not exclusively in South Korea. (And yes, though he was way bigger, with waaaaay more hair, they got along fine.)

With Jinjja, the biggest factor of all, I suspect, has been simple time —
time spent being treated like a normal dog, as opposed to crated or chained as he was at the farm in Korea.

DSC06695

It’s all about earning his trust, and sometimes he makes you work very hard for it.

So we’re spending lots more dog park time, and more me getting on the floor time (arduous task though it is) for that is when he really warms up.

And, dare I say it, he is, if not on the verge, at least getting very close to being a regular old happy go lucky dog.

DSC06833

(Photos: By John Woestendiek / ohmidog!)

Jinjja comes home and meets — through the fence gate — his feline double

DSC06566 (2)

On his first full day back home, Jinjja and I were sitting in my courtyard when he suddenly began whimpering, trotting back and forth and looking out between the slats in the fence.

I put down my coffee, looked between the slats and saw an eyeball looking in at us.

Further investigation revealed a second eyeball, and an entire cat — just calmly sitting there, inches from the fence gate, looking in.

It was Jinjja’s feline doppelganger.

DSC06551

We’ve come across him (or her) before on walks. He (or she) has the exact same color coat as Jinjja. A couple of times we’ve tried to approach him (or her), but Jinjja’s excitement scares him (or her) off.

He (or she) is one of two cats that roam the neighborhood, though I’m pretty sure they both have owners. The other is a Siamese. Frequently I spot one or the other from my kitchen window, where they both like to hunt every morning in the ground cover of a nearby bank, likely for chipmunks.

That involves laying in wait, perfectly still, on their bellies, sometimes rising up on their hind legs, like meerkats, to get a better view of what might be jumping around in the juniper.

Given his or her standoffishness, I was surprised to see Jinjja’s feline twin right outside the fence gate, seeming entirely curious and not at all frightened. To the contrary, it was almost like he/she was waiting for someone to open the gate.

Jinjja continued to whimper and put his nose right up to the gate, sniffing between the slats. The cat didn’t budge.

Several neighbors have commented on the resemblance between the white-yellow cat and my dog. They see him/her in the distance and think “uh oh, Jinjja escaped again.” While Jinjja was staying with a friend — for nearly a month and a half as I recuperated from some surgery — seeing the cat always reminded me of him.

DSC06547 (2)

Given he/she has never let me get too close, his/her appearance right outside the gate on Jinjja’s first full day back home seemed like it must be fraught with meaning. I just wasn’t sure what it was.

Maybe it was a connection between fellow chipmunk hunters. Jinjja did plenty of that while he was away, enjoying a friend’s spacious back yard and the company of their two dogs. On his last day, they teamed up to almost corner one.

Maybe chipmunks became more common in and around my little courtyard while Jinjja was away, and the cat had figured out it was prime hunting ground.

Or maybe he/she saw it as an opportunity to finally — and safely — meet the dog whose striking coat he/she had admired from afar.

Perhaps it was simply a “welcome home” from a fellow fluffy, white-yellow denizen of the neighborhood.

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Maybe, if Jinjja doesn’t tug on the leash too much upon seeing him/her — I’m not quite ready for that yet — we can try for an up close meeting with his doppelganger in the days ahead.

Or maybe he/she will be back for more bonding from opposite sides of the fence slats.

When you’re feeling way older than your dog

I’m still a few days away from reclaiming my dog Jinjja, being cared for by a friend while I recover from some recent surgery, but I did stop by to take him for a test walk last week.

(That’s not us in the video above. I’m not quite that slow and bent over, and Jinjja’s not quite as willing as that dachshund to move along at a snail’s pace.

The test walk convinced me I needed a few more days — given Jinjja tugs a bit on the leash — before getting back to the two walks a day routine.

Then I came across the video above, which made me think if that old guy can still walk his dog, a little wrenching of my guts shouldn’t be holding me back. I’m not sure which impressed me more — the old man’s perseverance or the dog’s patience.

Still, given Jinjja’s hosts are so gracious and he seems to be having such a good time there — enjoying a large, escape-proof yard, the companionship of two other dogs and attention from three times as many humans — I decided to stretch his visit out to a few more days and pick him up after the holidays.

Yes, dogs help keep us young, but sometimes they can remind us how old we’re getting, or feeling — especially when a walk is the last thing you feel like doing and your dog is insisting on it. The video also got me thinking about dogs and older people, and how a good match is pretty vital to their successful coexistence.

jin2When I adopted Jinjja six months ago, after he was freed from a South Korean farm where he was being raised to become meat, I was in decent health and thought I had enough energy to handle whatever challenges he might pose.

His three escapes and the subsequent recovery efforts — one on the eve of my surgery — made me question that … and more.

Should I, at almost 64, have chosen a smaller, lazier, older dog to adopt — one content to do little more than lay around the house, one for whom my tiny courtyard would be ample space?

In retrospect, yes. But I didn’t know at the time that I was going to have to deal with a kidney cancer scare and a surgery that takes six weeks to recover from.

I’m far from alone in having this kind of issue. Even though dogs age much more quickly than we do, it’s not uncommon for older folks to find the dog they’ve been caring for has become more than they can handle, or for them to adopt one who might not be a perfect fit for their circumstances.

I’m a firm believer that a dog can bring joy, meaning, comfort, companionship and numerous health benefits to the life of an older person — and that ideally every older person who wants one should have one.

But, as with any adoption, considerations of one’s circumstances, and the possibility of unforeseen new ones, need to be kept in mind.

You can find a pretty good summary of all the pros and cons when it comes to pets and seniors in this guide put together by the National Council on Aging Care.

It was a dog who led me to the home I bought a year ago — a different dog (Ace) who died before I moved. He needed a home without steps. He was not a leash-tugger, or even a leash-requirer, and he was content to always be at my side.

The condo seemed a perfect old man/old dog house. It didn’t have anything that could rightly be called a yard, but it had no steps (which I’ll admit appealed to me as well) and it had a small fenced courtyard.

Ace — while he was an extra large dog — never seemed too thrilled with yards, anyway. He would rather go on walks and meet people, or lay on the porch and wait for people to come meet him, or simply station himself at some other observation point:

At dog parks, Ace, a highly social animal, would generally remain where the people were, rather than romp around the acreage.

Jinjja is a different story — and one that’s still evolving. He’s still working on his socialization skills, and more. We attended our first obedience class, where he showed great promise, but attending those classes was cut short by my illness.

Jinjja is still easily frightened, and wary of the male of the human species. He was at my friend’s house for a month before he let her husband pet him.

Their place was an ideal spot for him. He can just go out the back door and have an entire yard to romp in. There’s no need for leashed walks, and thereby fewer opportunities for him to take off — and when he does that, getting him back is no easy task.

DSC05631I’ve concluded that’s a result of both nature and nurture — though the environment he came from could hardly be called nurturing.

It is fairly characteristic of his breed (Jindo) to wander. And contact with humans was best avoided at the dog farm in South Korea where — though he might have been someone’s pet at some point — he was mostly raised.

So for this particular old person (for whom moving into a house with a large escape proof fenced yard is out of the question), it’s a matter of more training, more trust-building, more work, more walks, more trips to the dog park, and more of the kind of perseverance that old man in the video reflects.

And all that will resume by this weekend.

Why? Because of all the rewards we’ve only briefly touched on in this article. You — whether you are young, or old, or in between — already know what they are. I’ve been reminded of them when Jinjja, who once kept his distance from me, joyfully greets me during my visits to his temporary home.

We’ve got more bonding to do, more tricks to learn, more walks to take. He’ll have to slow down a bit. I’ll have to stay upright and pick up the pace. But, as a team, I’m pretty sure we can do it.

(Click on this link for more stories about Jinjja)