I am serious when I say that if my dogs and me were trapped in a burning building and my wife could only save me or them that she had better rescue them first. I love dogs, especially our “children”. I grew up with dogs as family members. I can watch a movie where dozens of humans are hurt, carved up, run over, shot or otherwise obliterated and it not bother me. If, on the other hand, a movie depicts a single dog being hurt, even slightly, I can’t watch.
So, when I found myself wondering around a village in southern China during a festival of some sort and most all of the Chinese tents offering lunch were serving dog, I was stunned. I know, I know: Asia eats dog like Americans eat chicken or beef or pork, but I had, up to this point, never seen dog as food. It took some getting used to. Truth be told, I never did.
I struggled to look at it this way: eating dog is part of Chinese culture. If a Hindu, who worships and protects cows, were to drive to a local McDonalds in the USA and see that burgers made with all-beef patties were on the menu, I would expect him to be repulsed.
A few world religions find pig untouchable and don’t even think about eating it. It is an abomination. Yet, I’ve eaten my share of pig in various forms and loved it and will continue to do so.
Another sight that bothered me was dog fighting. In America, this activity is considered animal cruelty and, therefore, illegal. In China this was a sport that was held between bull fights. I watched the bull fights and it didn’t bother me. Dog fighting, on the other hand, was repulsive.
What was I to do, since I’m such a lover of dogs? Well, I couldn’t run away. Dogs as meat was all around. The aroma of BBQ dog saturated the air. Dog cruelty was a sport. I can’t expect that every culture I visit will have the same values I do. Or have the same laws.
So I envisioned myself as a pair of eyes floating through China, observing but not reacting and not judging. This is simply their culture and I cannot make judgements. Still, it was a struggle to see the faces of dogs waiting to be slaughtered. Dogs can communicate their thoughts and mood with their eyes like humans. And this human knew what they were thinking: I’m about to be cooked and eaten.