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.
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.
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.”
Winter with her bestie, Neko the Shiba Inu.
Winter with her bae, Brick the Singapore Special.