Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thankfully, these strips of meat weren’t hanging in front of the hospital until two days later, or we might never have convinced ourselves to enter. But they weren’t, so we did, and with my somewhat recovered Chinese, I explained the situation to a very old man in a very old white coat. He examined the puppy, which lay silently, and informed us that it did not have a broken leg but might have a broken ligament. While Mark ran home to get money, guide books, phone numbers and whatever else he could find to help us figure out what to do with this puppy that we could no way keep but couldn’t abandon, I paid, without knowing what I was buying, to give the puppy some shots of painkiller that seemed to cause him almost as much pain as the original injury.

The veterinarian and his assistant didn’t have any phone numbers or addresses of shelters that might take him, but kindly agreed to let the puppy stay there for one night, against their rules, while we tried to find him a home. We ran back to our apartment to start a frantic search.

Then, a gift fell out of the pages of That’s Beijing, which we had picked up just two days earlier: on page 134, an article on the Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Education Center, the one and only private animal shelter and protection entity in the entire country (yes, that’s right, the one and only, in a country almost the size of the United States). The gods were grinning at us.

The next morning, I finally got through to someone at the shelter, and in a broken-down gypsy cab we set-off to the outskirts of Beijing, driving on a road strewn with corn kernels set out to dry in the sun. Finally, after a wrong turn that took us past a field of ostriches (no lie) our personal yellow brick road brought us to the center’s door. We were greeted by a woman dressed in head to toe army camouflage, including a hat. While this sight didn’t exactly fill us with confidence that our tired little traveler would be treated with tender loving care in his new home, our worries were assuaged by the many photos of Jane Goodal visiting the center hanging framed on its walls and by the knowledge that the RSPCA has made it the center a “sister society”. (I mean, Jane Goodal! I wrote a report on her in the second grade and I don’t think my esteem for her has diminished at all since then.)

We filled out a little paperwork, made a donation, and then it was time to say goodbye. But before we could leave, we were asked what we’d like to call the pup. Mark had already dubbed him “Cripplespot,” in recognition of his resemblance to my old and weary Pound Puppy “Triplespot,” but we didn’t think that would fly at the shelter. Hambaobao (Hamburger) was nixed because they already had one (they also have a French Fry, we learned) so we settled on Oreo, or “O-Li-O”. When he’s all cleaned up, he’ll be a reverse Oreo—mostly white with a little black—but in his sooty, dirty state at the shelter, the puppy was like the real cookie deal. And so: Oreo.

We’ve been invited to visit him and we’re planning to do so soon. In the meantime, we’re hoping that his leg recovers, that he gets a new home and that he forgets almost everything that the last eight months of his life taught him. And that he barks! In two days, not one bark. Keep your fingers crossed for Oreo, folks. Unless, that is, you want to use them to send the incredibly necessary, life saving Beijing Human and Animal Environmental Education Center a donation! They need money to help feed and care for animals, and for their other efforts, like educating Beijingers (like the kids who abused Oreo about respect and care for animals. I’m waiting to hear if the center can accept checks from abroad, but in the meantime, if you think you’d like to help out, please let me know.
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