My husband and I used to volunteer regularly at the local city animal shelter. There are hundreds of dogs in the shelter, most of them small breeds because they are the most popular in Korea. The animals are dirty, stinky, stressed and in poor health. Although the shelter provide them with food, and somewhere to sleep, they are mostly caged, get no interactions with humans and desperately need a walk and some attention. So we visit to give them just that.
|Walking in the snow|
|Not Bunja, just one of hundreds that look like him|
|I love ya, but get off my head bro.|
|Love to play outside|
|One of my favourites on the left. He had no teeth so he always appreciated the soft food I'd bring.|
Although I desperately wanted a dog again, I was very skeptical. This dog had not been at the shelter long. Although he was dirty, he was not completely filthy like most of the other dogs. I assumed someone was surely going to be looking for him and so we shouldn't worry. Also, he was a Maltese, and I had never wanted a Maltese dog because the stereotype I had in my mind was that they were stupid, anxious and barked too much.
|Anxious? My stereotype may have been a little off.|
All of the dogs in the shelter get their picture published on a website, so if anyone is missing a dog, they can search and find them there. After two weeks, if noone one claims them, they can be adopted.
The next day, when I turned on my computer, I saw a picture of this little white dog as my desktop background screen with a speech bubble saying "Hi Mummy" (My husband had downloaded the picture from the website). This, of course, pushed me over the edge. "Ok" I said. "Go to the shelter and bring him back, so we can at least foster him so that he doesn't get sick until his owners claim him."
I had to work, so my husband went alone to pick up the little white dog. Two more nights in the shelter had taken their toll, he was filthy and reeked by now and had weeping eyes. My husband still remembers how, during the drive home, the little white dog crawled over to him, curled up on his lap and slept all the way there.
Obviously, no one ever came looking for that little white dog and he became Bunja, the best thing my husband ever convinced me to do.
|You guys didn't choose me, I chose you!|
|This picture was taken the day after we picked him up from the shelter. He had eye infections, ear infections and dental problems but was luckily clear of heart worm.|
|I think this place might do.|
|Are you my new Daddy?|
|Settling in quickly.|
We used to often wonder how he ended up on the street. He is not scared of people (except loud or drunk older men), so he must have been loved and treated well at some point. He used to always seem to be excited when he saw young Korean women with long hair. Was he owned by someone who moved away? Maybe they left him with someone who soon dumped him? Did someone purposefully "lose" him even though he was loved by another family member? We stop wondering now. As my husband put it "Whoever dumped Bunja is the stupidest and most unpleasant person in the world...and we are the luckiest."
P.S. If Bunja's story has inspired you to help those animals whose future does not seem as bright - see my links for animal shelter websites or suggest any links of your own in the comments! Even if you can't adopt a pet, you can certainly help more than you know by donating or simply visiting to give some animals the joy of your attention.
The shelter where we adopted Bunja: http://djani.daejeon.go.kr/main.do
(copy and paste link in brower to activate)
Links to volunteer groups and pets for adoption in Korea: http://www.animalrescuekorea.org/
Rescue animals in Australia: http://www.petrescue.com.au/
In Japan: http://www.arkbark.net/?q=en/node/75