UN­BREAK­ABLE BONDS

She was des­tined to be­come some­body’s din­ner, but Win­ter the Jindo-Pungsan cross’ destiny changed when she en­coun­tered her paw-rent Cheow Jing Xuan.

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - BY CHRISTIANN PRIYANKA

De­spite strug­gling to bring a dog from South Korea to Sin­ga­pore, Cheow Jing Xuan was de­ter­mined to bring her dog meat trade sur­vivor, Win­ter the Jin­doPungsan, home with her.

when we first came across three-year-old Win­ter’s In­sta­gram page (@win­ter­woofy), we were in­trigued by this snow-white pooch. You see, Win­ter is a Jindo-Pungsan cross. A rare sight in Sin­ga­pore. this breed is com­mon in South Korea where the pooch orig­i­nates. Her stun­ning ap­pear­ance be­lies her hor­rid past—she is a sur­vivor of the dog meat trade.

AN UN­EX­PECTED FIND

Cheow Jing Xuan, 29, a le­gal coun­sel, never ex­pected to fall so deeply for this pooch. In fact, she’d only known about the breed shortly be­fore adopt­ing Win­ter. “It was my friend who first adopted a Jindo from Korea, and that was what brought my at­ten­tion to the pos­si­bil­ity of ac­tu­ally adopt­ing from over­seas,” ad­mits Jing Xuan. Along with this, it opened Jing Xuan’s world to the dog meat trade in South Korea as well as the hor­rific con­di­tions th­ese dogs are kept in be­fore be­ing skinned, butchered and their meat sold. “It made me feel trou­bled, and gave me a very un­set­tling sense of help­less­ness, be­cause I wished for it to stop but I couldn’t do any­thing about it,” she adds som­brely.

The con­sump­tion of dog meat is com­mon in South Korea, with one in three Kore­ans hav­ing eaten the an­i­mal. The an­i­mals are crammed into filthy me­tal cages from birth till they are ready for the slaugh­ter.

AGAINST ALL ODDS

Jing Xuan found Win­ter when she needed her most. “At that point in time, I was un­der­go­ing ther­apy for ob­ses­sive­com­pul­sive dis­or­der (OCD). I was at a point in my life where my OCD was spi­ralling out of con­trol—even touch­ing

the floor in my house was a no-no—and I knew that a dog would help me,” she shares. Jing Xuan would even­tu­ally find Win­ter on saveko­re­an­dogs.org, a non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion com­bat­ting the dog meat trade in Korea. Win­ter had not been the kind of dog Jing Xuan had en­vi­sioned to own, but her gut told her oth­er­wise. “It’s dif­fi­cult to pin­point what ex­actly made me pick her!”, she ad­mits.

Jing Xuan only met Win­ter three days be­fore she flew to Sin­ga­pore. The drive up to the shel­ter Win­ter was kept in felt sur­real. All Jing Xuan knew at that time was that she wanted to adopt Win­ter and was will­ing to do any­thing to bring the pup home.

Adopt­ing Win­ter was not an easy process. “There re­ally wasn’t much red tape on the Korean side, once they re­lease the dog to you. The cer­ti­fi­ca­tions and pa­per­work in­volved were the

AVA’s re­quire­ments,” ex­plains Jing

Xuan. Im­port­ing a dog from over­seas to Sin­ga­pore is a long process in­volv­ing iden­ti­fy­ing the ra­bies risk of the ex­port­ing coun­try, en­sur­ing if the breed of the dog is al­lowed in Sin­ga­pore, mak­ing sure that the dog has had their vac­ci­na­tions up to date and un­der­gone a blood serol­ogy test, re­serv­ing a quar­an­tine space with the AVA, ob­tain­ing a dog li­cence be­fore ap­ply­ing for an im­port li­cence, book­ing an in­spec­tion for the dog (which costs $80), send­ing it for par­a­site treat­ments and ob­tain­ing a Vet­eri­nary Health Cer­tifi­cate. And due to the red tape in Sin­ga­pore, Jing Xuan strug­gled to find agents in Korea who would help trans­port Win­ter to Sin­ga­pore. “Be­cause most of the re­quire­ments had to be ful­filled be­fore she flew to Sin­ga­pore, and I was not phys­i­cally in Korea, I had to rely on her South Korean fos­ter­ers and Nami Kim (the founder of Save Korean Dogs) to see to the pa­per­work,” shares Jing Xuan. She could only com­mu­ni­cate with them via Kakao and Kakao calls, and the lan­guage bar­rier made ev­ery­thing more stress­ful and dif­fi­cult. Agents also dropped out of help­ing Jing Xuan upon hear­ing about the process of ex­port­ing Win­ter to Sin­ga­pore.

Hope was found when Nami got in touch with an old friend who was will­ing to fos­ter Win­ter and take care of the pa­per­work. It took six weeks to get Win­ter to Sin­ga­pore and a month of quar­an­tine with the AVA. With the in­clu­sion of vac­ci­na­tions, blood tests, pay­ing for Win­ter’s fos­ter­ing, trans­port and quar­an­tine, Jing Xuan spent some­where be­tween $3,000 to $4,000.

HEAL­ING TO­GETHER

Win­ter’s past as a dog meat trade sur­vivor brought along bag­gage. Win­ter didn’t like hu­man touch and shied away from it. While she didn’t mind Jing Xuan who

vis­ited her in quar­an­tine fre­quently, she would get un­com­fort­able when­ever her new paw-rent sat be­side her or stroked her. Even when Jing Xuan brought her home, Win­ter didn’t want to be touched. She would flinch at the slight­est sound or sud­den move­ment and was ex­tremely skit­tish. “In­ter­est­ingly though, she didn’t want to be in any part of the house ex­cept in my room, and each time she got home, that’s where she would run to—it was her safe har­bour,” Jing Xuan shares fondly.

It took a lot of pa­tience and un­der­stand­ing to help Win­ter get through her trauma. “Ini­tially, I would com­pletely lose it at times. And it didn’t help her at all. Over time, I started to see that she had her de­mons just as I did. I came to re­alise she was just like me,” she says. Win­ter was also wary of Jing Xuan’s fa­ther. Jing Xuan helped lure Win­ter out of her shell through pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment, which was a feat be­cause even the sound of foot­steps would send the pup dash­ing for cover. When­ever Win­ter gets an anx­i­ety at­tack dur­ing walks, Jing Xuan re­as­sures her in a neu­tral and con­fi­dent tone which di­verts her at­ten­tion and eases her nerves. Some­times she even speaks in a chirpy tone or sings to Win­ter. “I shud­der to think of what I would be to­day with­out her. Prob­a­bly still strug­gling with my pho­bias, and per­haps liv­ing with a lot more anx­i­ety each day,” Jing Xuan ad­mits. In a way, help­ing Win­ter over­come her de­mons has helped Jing Xuan with over­com­ing hers as well.

Since Jing Xuan adopted Win­ter one-and-a-half years ago, the once eas­ily spooked pooch has com­pletely trans­formed. “Did you know that Korean Jin­dos are fiercely loyal and will pick only one hu­man be­ing to be loyal to?” Jing Xuan adds with af­fec­tion—and it’s true. When we see the way Win­ter and Jing Xuan have learnt to lean on each other de­spite their strug­gles, we truly un­der­stand what it means to find your soul­mate the way Jing Xuan and Win­ter have found each other. “We were both bro­ken when we found each other, but we both mended each other’s hearts in an un­ex­pected way. She helped me face my fears and gives me a rea­son to smile ev­ery day, no mat­ter how bad my day has been. In me, she found some­one to call her world, some­one to trust and love, some­thing that the dog meat trade had robbed her of.”

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Win­ter with her bestie, Neko the Shiba Inu.

Win­ter with her bae, Brick the Sin­ga­pore Spe­cial.

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