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New Year dog rescue – Part II

On the morning of New Year's Day, we arrived back at the rescue centre ready to start health checking, vaccinating and de-worming the dogs. We knew that many of them wouldn't let us even get near, but if we could just reach a few and try to reduce the risk of disease it would at least be a start.

A briefing to the team saw the emphasis on what to do in the case of dog bites, rabies protocols, etc, and we were ready to begin.

Howard, Rocky, Jacky, Mao Mao, Leanne, Emily, Eric and I initially, and very cautiously, made friends with the dogs, noting temperaments and those that might be ok to approach, before feeding them sausage, gently stroking their chins and chests, and assessing whether to move on to the next stage.

Once dogs were assessed to be okay, we began securing ID tape around their necks, offering sausage containing de-wormer and finally vaccinating them against disease.

That day saw over 40 (more than a quarter) of the dogs completed, which, while cause for some smiles of relief from the team, had us acknowledging too that the next few days would be harder as we dealt with the shyer and more aggressive dogs.

Indeed the following day, with the addition of YuJun, Wang Li, Helena and translator Wen Yan to the team, only four dogs were happy enough to be approached and helped. This wasn't surprising considering their fear of humans, so now it's a case of letting them become more comfortable with their surroundings and with the staff feeding and cleaning them, and then returning again in a few days to continue with the work.

In the meantime, as it's so cold and wet, our Maintenance Manager Jackie and his team are busy weather-proofing the entire shelter and concreting more areas to ensure better disease-control and a cleaner area for the dogs to run and play in outside.

As with the bears, the old joke about us not having favourites really doesn't ring true – and most of us have been heard admitting that yes, one (or more) of the dogs have already stolen our hearts.

There's the most gorgeous grey/black puppy, who seems to have no understanding that she was just days from slaughter as she joyfully hurtles around the place wanting to make friends with dogs and people alike.

Our driver, Li He, made no secret of his favourite – this lovely chocolate lab, who he has offered to take home and make a permanent part of his family:

Then there's a sweet little grey cross-sheltie, who clearly does realise how narrowly she escaped death – and just sits quietly next to you with melting brown eyes gazing up at yours for minutes at a time before burying her head into your lap. 

And finally there's an Eddie look-alike (Eddie was the original rescue dog from a Guangzhou meat market in 2001), skinny as they come, but slowly realising that life today isn't too bad. Nervous, but with no bite, she'll creep up behind you shyly asking for a pat before changing her mind and backing off slightly again.

Each time the distance between us narrows, the briefest of pats become seconds longer, and so the process goes on. I have a good feeling about this girl and am already wondering if rescued earthquake dog, Tremor, will consider sharing his bed at our bear sanctuary in Chengdu.

It's still incredible – and a rather nice feeling – that every single dog would be dead by now if fate hadn't played a hand. And sadness between the smiles of course, reflecting on all of those other trucks, those millions and millions of dogs and cats, that weren't so lucky on New Year's Eve.

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