27 November 2010

Going to the Dogs

In the Communist era dogs were more likely to be herders, guards, or meals than companions. Now, not only are they more common, but their role has changed. This is as close as we've seen to our favorite dachshund breed, and he was just as fixated on the tennis ball being thrown as ours are. We often see older people taking a walk with their dog, a reflection of dogs' important role as companions as the nest empties.
While we haven't noticed a great variety in breeds, most look like this guy. Since Pekingese date from the 700s when Chinese emperors made them the palace dog, this may account for their appearance.
Since dogs, like people, are numerous here, regulations are coming into place. Beijing limits city dogs to no more than 35 cm (14") in height, and Shanghai is planning a one-dog-only policy. A formal proposal to ban the eating of dogs has been introduced to the National People's Congress.
With dogs have come services for dogs with dog-treat stores, dog social networking, and more vets. Breeds like huskies and poodles are status symbols, and with colder weather now we've even seen dogs wearing little sweaters.
So it's a dog's life here, as this little guy sunning himself would agree. And a real visible testimony to the increasing affluence in China.