That's what our animals give us, right? But how do we repay them? Recently, with rabies, or kuángquǎnbìng 狂犬病 as it is called in Mandarin, resurfacing in Taiwan, the media and government have blown things way out of proportion. When it was originally found in the ferret-badger, an animal that is eaten by the aboriginal people in the mountains, people went nuts.
Now, I can understand that people were worried. I mean, we are talking about a disease that hasn't been seen on the island in around 50 years, but the poor treatment of domestic animals like dogs and cats that followed was quite unnecessary. But I don't want to dwell on the negative side of the coin, because it's ugly and depressing, and if that's what you wanted to read about, you'd have just picked up a local newspaper or turned on the TV.
In the West, we have the idea that our pets are our family members, and while people in some places in the world may have, and are entitled to their own views on the role animals play in their culture, and some even view cats and dogs as food(something that i don't agree with, but this is not the issue here) I want to assure you that that's is ILLEGAL in Taiwan.
I feel that a growing percentage of Taiwanese people(my future wife and her family included) take the status of pets in the family to a whole new level! My girl cooks more meals for my dog and cat than she does for me!
(Here are the dogs eating their gourmet meal)
My fiancé's sister has saved multiple dogs and found them homes, most recently a cute poodle mix named Lulu, and we practically feed a family of cats and stray dogs in the neighborhood on a daily basis. Heck, our cat Pumpkin(what can I say, he's big round and orange!) was a poor whelp of a street cat when we found him while riding our bikes around near the Taipei City Hall, not far from the famed Taipei 101.
(Left: Pumpkin shortly after we found him, Right: Pumpkin now, over a year later…That boy can eat!)
The pet industry is a booming business here as many pet-owners spend tons of money pampering their pooch with food, clothing, accessories, toys…and the list goes on and there are always new devices coming out. Pet salons are all over the place, and a self-wash pet grooming facility recently opened up over by the RT Mart in the Zhongyuan area in Zhongli City. Now, I know we've all heard of DIY car washes, but I thought this was a really awesome and unique idea!
(Left: Our "children" traveling in style Right: Check out this giant standard poodle, now take a look at Popcorn!)
Heck, there are dog restaurants and hotels where they can go on vacation and get pampered! And if you have a sweet tooth, there is even a dog bakery along the side of all the pet stores at the Tonghua Night Market on Keelung Rd., not far from the Liuzhangli MRT station in Taipei.
(Popcorn's first birthday cake. They were out of 1s, but do you think she complained?)
Most large pet stores have vets, shòuyī 獸醫 in them and health care for your pets is readily available, and affordable. Check out a coming article on how to take your dog or cat to for a check-up with the vet in Taiwan, including what vocabulary you may need to be able to communicate with the staff and what to expect.
Every year there are also numerous pet shows and exhibitions, the most famous of which takes place in the Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei. We took our dog there a few times, and it was really fun.
(They had a swimming pool at the pet exhibition…Popcorn went skinny-dipping!)
Some people may be uneducated, or uncompassionate towards animals, there are people like that everywhere and Taiwan is not an exception. But when you think about Taiwan (or any other place really) try to remember the good things first and foremost.
Chinese phrases of the day:
kuángquǎnbìng 狂犬病= rabies
shòuyī 獸醫= Veterinarian