After we arrived in Korea, we spent the first six months adjusting to life abroad. If you read our blog in the early stages, you know what we were up to, if not, go back and check the back catalog. We looked around the interwebs to find dog resources in Korea and would be in delight when we crossed a cute dog on our walks down by the stream. We watched Best in Show a number of times when thinking about getting ready get our dog.
We found out about the Busan Abandoned Pet Sancuary, better knows as BAPS. BAPS is operated by a few wonderful people, including Leo and Jin (our expat friend and his lovely Korean wife). They took over the shelter three years ago and it has been getting better and better ever since. They have fully ingrained themselves in the community and get regular volunteers on Saturdays and Sundays to help out at the shelter. They are a shelter that truly cares about the dogs they take in. Their band of strays covers many types of breeds and sizes. They are a no kill shelter and have always been a shelter that does not charge an adoption fee. They have 30 or so dogs there at any one time and 15-20 out in foster care or on their way to adoption. They take in new dogs when they can. One of the more grim ways that dogs end up at BAPS is that they are rescued from the dog meat markets. Dog meat is technically illegal in Korea, but it can still be found in back alley restaurants off the menu.
BAPS is a fantastic organization that helps many dogs and gives many a fantastic volunteering opportunity. If you are living in Korea and you are interested in volunteering for this great organization find them on facebook.com and get involved. They have donation baskets at many popular spots around Busan, please donate and support. If you are living elsewhere in the world and would like to learn more about them, check out their website to see some pictures and learn about the dogs who live there.
On our first trip to BAPS we were hoping to take a dog home with us that day, but they wanted us to wait to find a dog that worked well with us and they also wanted to get to know us a little better. Some of the dogs are still there from when Leo and Jin took over three years ago, and one of those dogs was Diga.
Diga was the first dog that Rose came to. We harnessed Diga and another dog that looked just like him up and we started down the road. Diga moved slow, very slowly, and shortly after Rose and I switched dogs, Diga put on the brakes and refused to walk anymore. Something about it was so sweet and endearing. The little pup felt so meek and mild that the three of us (Rose, myself, and the-not-yet-named Diga) formed an instant connection. Little Diga jumped up on our laps and just wanted to sit and be cuddled. He had to come home with us.
The next week we were back at the shelter and we made the decision to take him home with us. But this was just the beginning of the journey. We had to make a stop at the vet's office to get a full check over and haircut. Our shaggy dog became a little pink rat. He needed all his hair taken off because much of it got matted from the winter spent in the greenhouse. Now he would be cold if it weren't for... dog clothes. One of Rose's new favorite things, not my favorite, but useful for such a little dog out in the cold.
That vet told us we would need to find another vet in our area to look after Diga's issues. He had some skin problems and a pretty nasty ear fungus. Our coworkers at the hagwon helped us find an English speaking vet only five doors down from the school. Pretty nice!
Dr. Pi (pronounced pee, but not spelled that way) is a very kind man, who has taken great care of Diga. They do grooming there as well and have given (at our request) Diga a pretty sweet mohawk. Also, at many vets offices around Korea, they have a dog who lives right at the shop. Dr. Pi's is Meng, an extremely little tea-cup shih-tzu that weighed all of 3.5 lbs. He's Diga's friend, and very funny.
We saw Dr. Pi quite often the first few months with Diga, his ear problems took a while to heal up and he had some stomach problems, which were probably mine and Rose's fault. But he's been great for the last few months and we've barely seen Dr. Pi except around the neighborhood. And he always asks how little Diga is doing.
Diga is a constant source of entertainment, both at home and when we are teaching at school. Many of our students have met Diga, and even if they haven't, they are always asking questions about him. When we read stories in class, if there is ever a dog, doesn't matter the size or color, we usually call it Diga. Many of the students have taken to this as well, so I guess it's a good thing that the Clifford books have yet to catch on in SLP.
Diga is one happy guy who loves to cuddle and loves to bring happiness into our lives. We miss our families so much, and Diga being here has made it easier. He is a new member of our family, and he fits in great. I never knew how nice it was to be needed, but Diga has made me realize how great it is.
In a short while, we'll be headed home with our little scruffer. It will be a long flight and hard work, but we couldn't imagine leaving him here. He has become an important part of our lives. As Rose and I grow as a couple, we've been excited to see our family grow. So thanks to Diga. I'm glad he's a part of our lives.