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Tag: korea

Nervous dog owners = nervous dogs

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Leave it to scientists to confirm what we already know, and to do so using words we don’t begin to understand.

Case in point: Nervous dogs often have nervous owners. This is not to say a nervous dog can’t have a cool as a cucumber (coolus cucumberus) owner. Nor is it to say some highly twitchy (humanus nervosa) folks can’t have calm dogs.

Only that, as anyone who visits a dog park knows, nervous owners tend to have nervous dog at the end of the leash.

The new study buttresses the concept that our dogs tend to take on our personalities, and that tension — while it may not actually “flow down the leash” — is picked up on by our dogs, and often reflected in their own behavior.

It looks at the chemistry behind that.

The study at the University of Vienna — published in the journal PLOS One “investigated dyadic psychobiological factors influencing intra-individual cortisol variability in response to different challenging situations by testing 132 owners and their dogs in a laboratory setting.”

You might understand that, or, you (like me) might not know spit — or that cortisol levels can be measured through it.

In the study, the researchers measured the levels of cortisol — and the variability of those levels — in the saliva of dogs and owners put through stressful situations.

In addition, they assessed the personality of both dog and human participants — ranging from highly sensitive and neurotic to secure and self confident.

“We calculated the individual coefficient of variance of cortisol (iCV = sd/mean*100) over the different test situations as a parameter representing individual variability of cortisol concentration,” the study’s authors wrote. “We hypothesized that high cortisol variability indicates efficient and adaptive coping and a balanced individual and dyadic social performance.”

For a more reader-friendly account of the study, check out Stanley Coren’s Psychology Today blog:

“You can think of people who are high in neuroticism as being sensitive and nervous while people who score low in neuroticism are secure and confident. In this study, the dog owners who scored high in neuroticism had dogs with low variability in their cortisol. This suggests that dogs with highly neurotic owners are less able to deal with pressure and stress.”

“Conversely, dog owners who were more laid back and agreeable had calmer dogs. Those folks have greater variability in their cortisol response, suggesting that they are better able to cope with situations involving tension and strain.”

The study says the male dogs of female owners often have less variability in their cortisol responses and are often generally less sociable and less relaxed than male dogs belonging to male owners.

(That’s the study saying that females generally score higher on measures of anxiety and neuroticism — not me. I would be way too nervous to say that.)

“Owners behave differently because they are pessimistic or neurotic, and perhaps dogs read the emotions of their owners and think the world is more dangerous — so they are more reactive to it,” the study says. “It looks like people who are pessimistic have dogs which are worse at coping with stress than others.”

Of course, where a dog was before ending up with its owner can play a pretty big role, too.

I, for example, am the cool as a cucumber owner of a nervous dog. He came from a farm in Korea where he was being raised to become meat. That would tend to instill some nervousness in anyone.

Three months after being adopted by me, he still gets pretty nervous — around large groups, when hearing loud noises. I don’t know about his cortisol levels, but at these times he whimpers, sheds profusely — is there such a thing as projectile shedding? — and pees in inappropriate places, such as on my leg.

He is making great strides in every way, but Jinjja still needs to chill, and get less worked up by new situations.

Of all the factors that shape our dogs — genetics, environment, owners — time (and its cousin, patience) may be the most important ones of all.

So my game plan is to provide him with plenty of both, expose him to new settings and situations, and show him that not all the world is a dangerous place — all while being a mellow role model.

In other words, impossible as it might be, I’m going to have to become EVEN cooler.

For one rescued Korean “meat dog,” a good night’s sleep comes at last

The 200 dogs freed in the latest closure of a Korean dog farm continue to arrive in the U.S. — and for one of them, it has meant learning a new way of sleeping.

Harriet is one of more than a dozen dogs brought to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, where the staff quickly noticed she never laid down — not even to sleep.

Apparently, having spent her life in a cage too small to lay down in, she’d learned and grown accustomed to sleeping in a sitting position.

“Harriet had no idea what a bed was,” Sherry Silk, CEO of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told WFLA.

Harriet was one of about two dozen dogs to arrive in Florida from Korea recently. In the weeks and months ahead, more will be arriving in other cities in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

They’re coming from the sixth farm that Humane Society International has closed by cutting deals with their operators to release the dogs and find other occupations.

The dogs — raised, like livestock, to be slaughtered for their meat — are being relocated to other countries for adoption in part because there is little interest in them in Korea, where many prefer small dogs and have the misconception that “meat dogs” don’t make good pets.

Additionally, HSI hopes the program will raise awareness about the dog meat trade and increase pressure on Korea to ban it.

The dogs most recently shipped will likely be up for adoption in the next few weeks.

About a week ago, after 14 of them arrived in Orlando, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay posted a video on its Facebook page of Harriet falling asleep while in the sitting position, which they theorized was because she’d never had the space to lay down.

They’ve also learned that one of the Korean arrivals is pregnant.

Staff worked to show Harriet how to get in a laying down position, and she now regularly curls up on her bed.

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To see all our stories on Jinjja, my Korean rescue dog, and the dog meat trade, click here.

HSI shutting down 200-dog farm in Korea

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Another massive rescue of Korean farm dogs is underway.

Activists on Tuesday freed 10 more dogs from a 200-dog farm in Wonju, 55 miles outside of Seoul, Reuters reported.

Dogs on such farms are raised to be slaughtered for their meat.

reuters1Humane Society International estimates it will take weeks for all the dogs on the farm to be removed, after which they will be transported to the U.S. for adoption at local animal shelters.

The farm, once it closes, will become the sixth shut down by local advocates and activists from HSI, who negotiate with dog farmers and assist them in getting started in different occupations.

HSI estimates there are 17,000 dog-meat farms in the country.

The removal of the dogs follows six months of negotiations, medical examinations and vaccinations. Because airline flights can only carry a limited number of dogs a day, it will take a couple of weeks for HSI to rescue all 200 of the dogs at the farm.

You can see a Reuters slideshow of the operation here.

reutersThe owner of this farm cited his poor health as the reason he was getting out of the business.

HSI officials expected the dogs will be quickly adopted once they arrive at shelters in the U.S.

“As soon as they’re ready for adoption, we find that there are line-ups of people – literally people would line up at shelters – in the U.S. to adopt these dogs because people are so engaged by their sad and compelling stories,” said Andrew Plumbly, another campaign manager for the HSI.

Plumbly said hygiene at the dog farm was “non-existent,” and that dogs spent most of their lives outside in rusty cages.

A minority of Koreans consume dog, and the consumption of dog meat is declining.

Humane Society International hopes bringing more attention to the issue will lead the government ban the breeding of meat dogs in South Korea, where the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held.

(You can read more about Korean farm dogs, including mine, here.)

(Photos: Kim Hong-Ji / REUTERS)

Jinjja meets his new vet

dsc05655-2Other than providing a urine and stool sample nearly as soon as he entered the exam room — neither of which had been requested — Jinjja’s first trip to the vet went more smoothly than I expected.

Despite all the fears I’d managed to come up with beforehand, we got in, we got out, we got microchipped (well, he did), and all with relative ease.

I’d worried, because of where he comes from — a dog farm in South Korea where dogs were raised for their meat — whether he would go in willingly. Would he react poorly to being poked and probed? Would he revert to the skittish and fearful dog he was when I got him nearly a month ago, or be the more sociable creature he has become when he met the veterinary staff?

And, given I’ve been warned not to pick him up, how would he react when lifted to the exam table?

Based on how he did, I can conclude he is in good health, he is continuing to become more social, and I worry too much.

The purpose of our visit was to have his microchip installed, and get a basic check-up. I’m still not certain — if he ever got out of the house without me — whether he’d hang around or take off on a perpetual squirrel hunting quest.

I adopted Jinjja from the Watauga Humane Society last month. I was advised to give him a couple of weeks just to get used to his new surroundings, and to not try to lift or move him around for a while.

It took two weeks to get him to jump in the back of my Jeep, but once he mastered that, I scheduled a visit with a vet.

Much as I liked Ace’s vet, I opted to go to a new one, and sidestep the painful memories of Ace being put down last year.

I’d been to Mt. Tabor Animal Hospital with a friend’s dogs and was impressed. On top of that, it’s right down the street from where I live now, and has separate entrances and lobbies for dog people and cat people.

I haven’t a clue on how Jinjja is with cats yet, but from afar they seem to drive him almost as bonkers as squirrels do.

Jinjja was a little excited in the waiting room, especially when he heard other dogs in the background. Once in the exam room, he immediately peed, then held off until the vet came in to present a healthy-sized poop.

He was friendly to both the vet tech and the vet, but both thought it best, given his background, to muzzle him while his temperature was taken (he didn’t like that at all) and when his microchip was inserted.

That was another thing I had worried about. Might being muzzled stress him out more, make him regress? But, once we got it on, it had the opposite effect, calming him at least for a while.

After weighing in at nearly 50 pounds, and posting a normal temperature, Jinjja met the vet, Jenny Bolden.

I’d requested a female veterinarian, because Jinjja seems less skittish around, and quicker to make friends with, that gender.

They hit if off and, with the push of a button, the vet sent the platform Jinjja was standing on rising into the air. (So much for my worry about lifting him.)

We decided to hold off on a heartworm test until his next visit, he was up on all the important vaccinations.

Dr. Bolden agreed with my opinion that, judging from his teeth, he looked a little older than just one, the age listed for him at the shelter. She guessed he could be as old as three, but pointed out that the less than pristine condition of his teeth could also be a result of whatever he was fed or foraged on while in captivity.

We also talked about his weight. He is stockier than the average Jindo, but my suspicion is that he has some chow in him, and that accounts for the bulkier torso he carries on his relatively spindly legs.

She suggested his ideal weight might be about five pounds lighter.

Dr. Bolden asked a lot of questions — always a good sign in a vet — about his background, the campaign to save dogs in Korean farms. And she patiently answered mine.

We remuzzled Jinjja for insertion of the microchip. During that process, which didn’t seem too bothersome to him, I squirmed much more than he did.

By the time we got home, he was exhausted and I was covered in shed hair, something he hasn’t seemed to do to excess. I guess stress can accelerate the hair shedding process.

Once I assured myself it wasn’t mine, I decided not to worry about it.

Dog butchering to cease at Moran Market

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In what we hope is a death knell for the dog meat trade in South Korea, the killing and butchering of dogs has been banned in the country’s most infamous dog-meat market.

Sellers of dog meat in Seongnam’s Moran Market will shut down their dog slaughtering and butchering operations, starting within a week, the Korea Herald reported.

All cages and equipment used in the process must be permanently removed by the end of May.

The decision was announced Tuesday by Seongnam City Government and the vendors’ association of Moran Market, which represents the market’s 22 dog meat dealers, as well as those who sell vegetables and other products.

Quoting Gandhi, Seongnam mayor Lee Jae-myung, said, “Seongnam City will take the initiative to transform South Korea’s image since ‘the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.'”

Moran Market is South Korea’s top dog meat trade center. Dogs are kept packed in cages before being sold, killed and butchered to order in the open air market — about 80,000 of them a year, it is estimated.

The dogs generally come from dog farms, about 17,000 of which are located in South Korea.

According to the Humane Society International, about 2 million dogs are raised for their meat each year in South Korea.

No law specifically prohibits the farming of dogs for consumption as food.

“This is a hugely consequential development because of the sheer numbers of animals involved,” Humane Society of the United States President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote on his blog, A Humane Nation.

“The closing of the Moran dog meat market affirms the soundness of our model of shutting down the farms by giving the farmers an alternative form of employment,” Pacelle wrote. “With the Winter Olympics planned for South Korea for 2018, this is a key leverage point for the global community… This proud and successful country can shed this industry and help transition farmers to other lucrative and more humane businesses.”

The Herald reports that the city of Seongnam will pick up the tab for market merchants to retool their shops for new kinds of businesses.

That’s similar to the approach Humane Society International is using to persuade dog farmers to forfeit their dogs and go into a new line of work.

dsc05635-2Since 2014, Humane Society International has transported 540 dogs rescued that way — my dog Jinjja among them — to the U.S. and Canada as part of an ongoing effort to end the dog meat trade in South Korea.

Jinjja came to me through the Watauga Humane Society. He was one of 31 Korean farm dogs HSI transported to the U.S. and sent to local humane societies in North Carolina.

I visited him there to write about the Korean dogs for this website, and ended up adopting him, mainly because we hit it off, but probably also because of the images that lingered (in my brain, and the photos I took) from my own visit, six years ago, to Moran Market.

Seongnam City is to be commended for doing what much of South Korea hasn’t been able to accomplish. Here’s hoping the new rule is enforced, that it spreads throughout the country, and that by the time the 2018 Olympics open in Seoul, the practice is not just hidden, but over.

(Photos: At top, a scene from Moran Market, by John Woestendiek; lower, my Korean farm dog, Jinjja, and me, by Ted Woestendiek)

14 more Korean farm dogs arrive in U.S.

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Fourteen more farm dogs from South Korea have arrived in the U.S. and are bound for the Richmond SPCA for eventual adoption.

The dogs arrived Friday at Dulles International Airport after being rescued from a dog meat farm in Jeonju, where they would have faced being slaughtered and butchered after living short and miserable lives.

Since 2014, Humane Society International has transported 540 dogs — my Jinjja among them — to the U.S. and Canada as part of an ongoing effort to end the dog meat trade in South Korea.

Working with local animal activists, HSI attempts to persuade the operators of dog farms to relinquish their dogs, close down their business and find a new line of work, sometimes assisting them in the latter.

richmond2The dogs who arrived Friday were rescued from a meat farm in Jeonju — likely the same one my new dog was in.

While dog meat farms are legal in South Korea, the latest arrivals — like the 31 that arrived at shelters across North Carolina in October — came from a farm that Korean officials found to be operating illegally (on someone else’s property) and ordered to close.

The latest 14 were sheltered, vaccinated and quarantined in Daegu and Isla before being flown to San Francisco and, eventually, Dulles, according to the Richmond SPCA.

Robin Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that some of the dogs will be ready for adoption in about a week.

“When we save the lives of animals that were really facing not only short lives of utter misery but then a terrible death, nothing could be more central to the accomplishment of that,” she said.

(Photos: At top Jessica Bristow carries Mokpo; lower, another Korean dog stretches his legs after arriving in Richmond; by Joe Mahoney / Times-Dispatch)

The 12 days of Jinjja

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On the first day of Jinjja, he came home in a crate with me, from the Watauga Humane Society.

On the second day of Jinjja, he peed twice in the house, still was very fearful, but otherwise he acted quite friendly.

On the third day of Jinjja, I left him home alone, only for an hour, he didn’t cower, and he didn’t destroy anything.

dsc05557On the fourth day of Jinjja, I gave him his new name. Jinjja’s Korean. It seemed to fit him. That’s where he came from. Translated, it means “Really!”

On the fifth day of Jinjja, he was still shaking his past: Raised on a dog farm, tied up or crated, little human contact, headed for slaughter, and destined to end up as meat.

On the sixth day of Jinjja, he started coming to me, not when I called him, of his own volition, just for affection, maybe a butt scratch, gave me some face licks, and not only when I dangled yummy treats.

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On the seventh day of Jinjja, he faced another test. It was Thanksgiving, I left him for two hours, stuffed myself with turkey, made off with leftovers, came home and found him, despite all my worries, behaving absolutely perfectly.

On the eighth day of Jinjja, I tried once again, to get him in my car. He can’t be lifted, try and he’ll nip ya, bribed him with turkey, made a little headway, he put his front paws there, didn’t make the leap though, still apparently not quite ready.

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On the ninth day of Jinjja, he spent the night in my room. First time he’s done it, not in my bed though, won’t jump there either, or up on sofas, I know he can do it, seen him in in my courtyard, when he thinks I’m not looking, gets up pretty high too, every time he sees or hears a squirrel.

On the tenth day of Jinjja, this Jindo dog of mine, continues to impress me, no inside peeing, tearing up nothing, stopped fearing TV, eating much more neatly, barking somewhat less-ly, mellow for the most part, friendly to strangers, be they dogs or humans, or anything other than squirrels.

On the eleventh day of Jinjja, he’s much better on the leash, much much less tugging, stops when I tell him, still trips me up some, but fewer collisions, and he finally got into my Jeep, with help from a stepstool, and lots more turkey, enjoyed a short ride. It’s a very, very major victory!

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On the twelfth day of Jinjja, as I composed this piece, I realized it goes on … just a little too long … sure the song’s beloved … but the beats a little humdrum … keeps on repeating … makes me quite sleepy … Jinjja, too, I thinky … He’s dozing at my feet, see … Still, there’s a meaning … in this song that I’m singing … about a dog who would’ve been eaten … My point is every day with him’s a gift.