“When I awoke the Dire Wolf/Six hundred pounds of sin
Was grinnin’ at my window/All I said was “come on in”
Don’t murder me/I beg of you don’t murder me
Please don’t murder me!” – Robert Hunter
One bitter November evening, the management office of our apartment complex in Beijing pulled a half-frozen and fully-starving puppy out from one of the rubbish bins. It was an ugly thing, as if Seth Brundle had tested his device by tossing in a bat, a squirrel, and a baby harp seal and then throwing the switch.
Her mouth was so crooked it looked as if somebody had stood ten feet away and threw a fistful of teeth in the general direction of her face.
But the puppy needed a home and the management office knew we were suckers.
Two years later we have a dog. We soon found out that not only was she ugly, but stupid. I would say she’s as dumb as a rock but I would hate to presume about rocks.
The dog is also gassy. She perpetually smells like old soup. I’m starting to worry that the next fart will have the Chinese government swooping in to plant a flag in her butt and declare her colon “Inalienable Chinese territory with concomitant mineral rights.”
Nevertheless, she is sort of cute — in an ugly, stupid, and malodorous way — and despite her many flaws, you wouldn’t think of her as a menace to society or really to a menace to anything larger than a caterpillar.
My neighbors disagree.
I have seen grown women (and even a few men) throw themselves against the side of the elevator in terror when they realized they are being hoisted aloft in a confined space with…well, my dog Snickers.
Walking her down the street and watching people recoil in absolute terror, you’d think I was unleashing a dire wolf rather than a 10-pound mutt who just three weeks ago figured out that the thing which follows her around everywhere was her tail.
There are many theories as to why people in Beijing are terrified of dogs. The Beijinger earlier this month posited a few of their own ranging from the prevalence of rabies in China to the fact that many Chinese never grew up with pets. Both of these make sense for older residents, but parents — at least in my neighborhood — seem intent on passing their fears on to the next generation.
Two nights ago I was taking Snickers out to the only square meter in the entire city of Beijing where she feels comfortable evacuating her bowels. On our way, we passed a woman and her ‘tween daughter. Since it was dark, mom had apparently not spotted black-and-brown Snickers until it was too late and my little dog had already approached within 10 meters of this woman’s precious offspring. The mother began screaming and yelling at her daughter to get behind her. At first I was alarmed — until I realized she was screaming about the existential threat to her daughter that was my dog, Snickers.
Mind you, I’ve seen people in my complex roll out into traffic without so much as a glance in either direction and their children balanced on the handlebars, but I digress…
I wish I could say that this woman screaming was an isolated incident but it happens with some regularity. For whatever reason, a shocking number of people are terrified, actually overcome with fear, by Snickers.
Frankly, I think in the dim recesses of her pea-sized brain, the dog is secretly happy. “Yeah, that’s me. Ten pounds of Bad Ass.” I can’t wait until the day comes when we return home to New Hampshire and our dog encounters a moose. My prediction is that she’ll poop twice and then die.
Nevertheless, for now we live in Beijing. She’s registered, not too big, refuses to be used as a tool of Western propaganda, and is kept on a leash when out in the civilization. I guess that means she’s street legal…but apparently still dangerous.