Articles by Val Bonney
CHINA AND THEIR ANIMALS
Written in 2010. Published widely.
A couple of years ago I was invited to visit China to speak with one of their leading Vets, and the Chinese Police Dog Squad.
As I was visiting Japan first, on a training/Judging mission and , it is only a 2 hour trip across to Quingdoa from Tokyo, I decided YES I would go.
I was met at the Airport and transferred to an apartment in Quingdao. I had my sister-in-law with me as we intended to do some sightseeing after we concluded the business side of the trip so all went smoothly.
Picked up a few hours later and taken out to dinner with about 15 dignitaries'. I don't speak the language, but an interpreter was provided so all went well. We discussed the Training methods, (or lack thereof), the Veterinary side of things, and animal population of China in general.
The food is very different to what we are used to in Chinese food here in Australia, and as the guest of honour, I was expected to eat some food I found pretty hard to swallow, but not wanting to cause an international incident, I did my best. They were very courteous and applauded my poor efforts. Not too sure that Shirley my sister-in-law did so well, but she certainly tried. (Try eating a chicken head that still has the beak and the eyes still prominent.)
Next day, I was again picked up and transferred to the Vet Clinic where 19 Police Officers from the Dog Squad were waiting. The Senior Sergeant was hesitant to shake hands with me at first, as Chinese men very rarely touch Western women they are not familiar with. It is sometimes not considered polite to do so. However as I had been asked to be there, I persevered and finally we shook hands. Perhaps they didn't realize they were getting a women. What a shock I must have been to them if that was the case.
I then proceeded to start asking questions about their dogs, their method of training used and any problems they may have been experiencing. It was like opening the floodgate Dealing with everything through an Interpreter is not easy, but thanks to the years of dealing with this in Japan, it didn't throw me too much. They were thirsting for knowledge and the questions came thick and fast.
One of their German Shepherd (they had several) wouldn't jump over a jump more than about 3 ft high, what could they do about it? After asking several questions I came to the opinion that early in her training she had hit a jump and been hurt, hence the fear of jumping. Talked to them about a Tellington Touch method I had used when handling the Superdogs here in Queensland which had proved very successful...We tried it on the dog later that day, but as explained to them it takes a little time each day using the same method for it to work. Happy to report 5 days later the dog was clearing a 5 ft wall without any mishap or reluctance. Went to lunch with all these guys, on the first day, and they took me to their kennel area where no civilians are ever allowed to go. A real honour for me. By this time they were very accepting of me as a woman and a person thank goodness, it really would have been a difficult few days if they had remained in any way aloof.
Their working dogs are well fed, but by our standards not kept in suitable environment or kennels. We talked at length about the cleanliness required to keep their dogs in top condition as this was sadly lacking. Kennels cleaned once a week only (imagine it). Kennels too small,. Not enough run area for the dogs and so on. When I came back I took photos of the Police Dog Kennels here in Brisbane and sent them back to China...
Their training is quite good, but fairly harsh in some areas. I hope the talks we had will change some of this. They have since reported they are working on new kennels for their dogs. I am so happy. I feel I really achieved something.
All together I spent 11 days in Quingdao in their company. Gave many talks, had great conversation, did some hands on training and learnt to eat fish with the eyes still in the head among other delicacies. I am still in communication with these guys, and it is always nice to receive an email from them. Many of the police dogs I worked with were to be used during the Olympic Games. One of them was even pictured in our Newspapers here.
I trained a Rough Collie for the Executive Director of the Quingdao Municipal Overseas Promotion Bureau in the middle of the main street one evening. This was an amazing experience. Her young son brought it to me to have a look at and to see if it was trainable. In one hour we had about 300 people standing around watching this young lad work his dog. They were all so excited. They chattered on and gave great encouragement to the boy. Some wanted to go home and get their own dogs. The young man and his dog went really well. The dog was in beautiful condition, spotlessly clean and well groomed. This is needless to say, not common practice in China.
Dog training as we know it. does not at this moment exist in China. It is just coming in and their knowledge is very poor. The ordinary person desires new experiences. It is wide open in almost all areas, and requires some experienced trainers to go there and explain what it is all about. I wish I was 30 years younger. The opportunities are tremendous.
Visited many animal markets and Zoos. I was not happy with the overall treatment of animals, and their Panda enclosures leave a lot to be desired. Actually conditions were so bad in these markets, my sister –in-law wouldn't go with me, but I needed to see for myself.
After visiting so many animal areas, because of the lack of hygiene I burnt my joggers before coming home to Australia,. Dogs, cats, rats, snakes, racoons, birds, turtles, fish, bats, goats, are but some of the animals kept in very small cages and then sold at these venues. I don't believe my shoes would have cleared customs even though I had scrubbed them.
Dogs are bred for eating in certain provinces of China. It is not (contrary to common belief) wide spread throughout China. It is only in particular parts of the country and the dogs bred are of a large breed for the purpose of eating.
Two weeks after I was there it was reported that over 50,000 dogs were disposed of because of a Rabies scare. They were just seized and beaten to death anywhere and everywhere they were seized.. Didn't matter that many were family pets. No quarter was given ,Just total execution. This was reported in our Newspapers here. I guess we have to try to understand it is only the upper class members of the Chinese culture that have any respect for their dogs,. They are certainly not considered by most others in the same way we consider our canine companions. The majority of people are very poor. I don't believe they are deliberately cruel "they just don't know any better".
Off times they treat each other in the same off hand, what we consider, cruel way They are people very different to us. Have such a different culture and way of looking at things. Their culture is very old, and if you look back in history, many times very cruel. They have grown considerably over the last few centuries, but still remain very different.
Many of the peasants I had the pleasure to meet were in their own way beautiful people. Very, very poor, but shared what they had.
I could go on and on, but I have to finish somewhere and so I will finish with these words:
"HOW LUCKY ARE WE TO HAVE THE DOGS WE HAVE AND LIVE IN A COUNTRY LIKE AUSTRALIA"