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Tag: meat trade

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.

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)

When Jinjja met Roscoe, and the family heirloom that keeps on giving

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Jinjja met Roscoe this week, and it was a mostly peaceful exchange.

In what was his first real outing since learning to jump in the car by himself, with help from a family heirloom, Jinjja had his first meeting with my brother’s dog at Winston-Salem’s Leinbach Park — neutral ground as neither had been there before.

They touched noses, sniffed each other out, and did well together — at least for the first 30 minutes.

dsc05619-2So far, despite his unusual background — Jinjja was rescued from a farm in South Korea where dogs were being raised for slaughter — he has gotten along with every dog he has met, from the flirtatious basset hound who lives across the street to rambunctious poodle (one of five) who live next door.

We haven’t tried a real dog park yet, but I think he is ready for that. (And I almost am.)

Leinbach Park is semi dog friendly. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park. But dogs, leashed or unleashed, are not allowed on the hiking trail.

“Dogs are not allowed on the sandstone walking trail at any time. The reason should be obvious,” the city’s director of Parks and Recreation told the local paper a couple of years ago.

(Sorry, but the reason isn’t obvious to me.)

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Still, we mostly heeded the warning, staying to the side of the path as much as possible, Jinjja sniffing for squirrels and Roscoe barking without provocation, which he’s prone to doing.

It wasn’t until we stopped walking and took a seat on a bench that, for no apparent reason, there were snarls and growls exchanged, followed by another brief confrontation. There was no real contact, and they seemed to make up afterwards.

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Ace (my previous dog) and Roscoe never became the best of friends. They reached a certain detente after a confrontation that also seemed to have erupted out of nowhere, and left both a little bloody.

On the way back to our cars Jinjja and Roscoe got along fine. I was a little worried about getting him back in my Jeep. I was advised by shelter he came from that it wasn’t a good idea to try to move his body or pick him up. Even though he has almost totally let down his defenses with me, I still haven’t tried to lift him up yet.

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Instead, to get him loaded, I used an ottoman from my living room, which my mother passed on to me. It has a cushion that was embroidered by a great aunt we all called “Tan.” When I back my car up to curb, the ottoman, along with a dangled piece of bologna, makes it easy for Jinjja to step up and jump in.

This was our first time without a curb. He hesitated a bit, but on the third try, just as the bologna ran out, he went for it, back paws getting a good grip on the carpet-like embroidery, and made it.

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I’ve been leaving the footstool in my car, until I buy some kind of sturdy box to replace it.

(That will probably be about the time he realizes he doesn’t even need it.)

I still have Ace’s old ramp, but it’s pretty cumbersome, and Jinjja might resist climbing up it even more than he has jumping in.

Once Jinjja masters the leap into the back seat — with or without a step up — the footstool will return to the inside of the house, and I will continue to prop my own feet up on it, even if it is a work of art.

“No feet on the footstool” would be a stupid rule, much like “no dogs on the trail.”

tanTan, whose real name was Kathleen Hall, was a teacher for many years and later a principal. There’s a school nearby that is named after her. She died in 1983. But I’m guessing what she shared with students lives on in them, their children and their children’s children.

The same can be said of her embroidered footstool, which is helping a South Korean dog who had no future hop into a car and see a little more of the world.

It’s one of those gifts that keep on giving.