On Dogs

“Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.”
~Pablo Neruda

I love my husband and also appreciate the convenience of sending out my laundry, but living in 300-square feet for multiple weeks with another human being is testing my endurance. Chris pointed out that we plan to travel the US in a camper upon our return, but I brushed off that fact. While it is mainly the space, it isn’t just the space. I like to cook. I like having a refrigerator and its contents (and a microwave. Why oh why does this place not include a microwave?). I like being able to stay up later than Chris without waking him. And, of course, I miss my stuff. We were able to ship 2400 pounds of our things which should arrive on the day we move into our new home. In that shipment are two of the world’s greatest pillows as well as various comforts from home. And, what I miss the most and anxiously, excitedly, and longingly await, is the arrival of the pups!

Korea is not the most dog-friendly country, although it has come a very long way in the last couple of decades. The history of eating dogs goes back millennia, although this is losing popularity. Dreadful stories abound on the Internet, though, including those from 2017. While it horrifies me on a personal level, I consider my cow consumption and try to temper my judgment. However, I’ve heard that lost pets have been gathered and sold for such purposes, so my dogs’ days of romping off leash are over. That’s okay because their days of romping seem to be over. They are some very old bitches.

Finding housing that would accept dogs limited our choices, but we were able to find a lovely house in Sacheon that has an enclosed yard as well as porch and upstairs patio. We had looked forward to the ease of apartment living in the city of Jinju, where one can walk out one’s door for a coffee or bowl of bibimbap. The expat apartments in Jinju are ultra-modern, probably very energy-efficient, and, I believe, near the beautiful Nam river. Living there would also come with having to take the dogs via elevator to some green space a few times a day to relieve themselves. As they are large by Korean standards and one is pretty grumpy, they would have frightened a lot of people. Check with me in several months, but I am looking forward to gardening, mowing the grass, watering the flowers, and cleaning all 2300-square feet of our palatial Korean palace. I also look forward to fewer noises causing Sophie, my black pup, to bark.

I have learned very quickly to take what one reads with a grain of salt (so don’t take my word as gold either!). I’ve seen multiple dogs as pets. Our new landlord had a hilariously cantankerous and rather mangy mutt with her who was at least as large as mine. I’d also read that Koreans consider cats “deliverers of bad fortune” but I’ve seen several cats roaming freely and happily, not in any danger of harm other than from erratic drivers. There is also pet grooming and boarding in ample supply, although it certainly isn’t like back in the States. But, really, nothing here is like back in the States. Which is the point of this adventure – what makes it so exotic.

Our dogs should arrive on June 2. They leave the States on May 31, but May 31 is actually June 1 here – a fact that still kind of messes with my mind. They also have a longer route as they will be flying Lufthansa which has pressurized and temperature-controlled services for pet transport and which will stop in Europe for a 6-hour layover where they’ll be exercised and fed.

I realize some readers may consider my dog relationship excessive and/or dull. I did not have the opportunity to have children. I understand people with children find those of us stating our pets are our children to be infuriating. I know that if it came to saving a child or saving one of my pups, I wouldn’t hesitate to save the child. I can differentiate. But I did not have children, and these dogs are as close as it gets for me. I adore them. Life would have been ten-thousand times easier without them here. My sister volunteered to take our older one. But I made a commitment. It is not okay to leave a pet when they become an inconvenience. My dogs love me, and I torture myself with thoughts that they believe they’ve been abandoned. When they arrive, I will lay on the ground and let them climb all over me and lick me to their hearts’ content. And I will beg them for their forgiveness. (Treats may help. I think they will love squid, which is plentiful and comes fresh, frozen, fried, boiled, dried like jerky, and in the form of potato chips. Food will be another entry.)

Author: joellenwinkorea

US expat living in South Korea and hoping to embrace this gift full-on.

5 thoughts on “On Dogs”

    1. I have enjoyed reading your blog! What a strong women you are for having the strength to move to Korea. I visit multiple countries (as my employment has been out of Switzerland and Germany) but I don’t think I could just “jump” and move there. As far as the dogs, I definitely get it! And I have a child! So…if it comforts you, you do the same thing when you are an empty nester! Keep posting when you have time! I think everyone is living vicariously through you!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Having your “kids” with you will be great. We left ours with our son in Montgomery Alabama. We miss her so much that we have to stop and pet the dogs we see here being walked with their owners. Let them lick away!!

    Liked by 1 person

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