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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

life with a dog in Taiwan

We have now had Bubu for 5+ months. We found him through the rescue organization GAIR that sends dogs from Taiwan to America. Honestly, we chose the organization because it had a detailed website in English and was very responsive to our (many, many) emails. However, nothing really prepared us to welcome another living creature into our home. While Bubu has always been pretty easy and mellow, we had a few kinks to work out. Now, after five months, we are really enjoying one another and we have very few complaints. 

Here are some interesting details about having a dog in Taiwan:

the vet is super, duper cheap
We have taken Bubu to the vet multiple times. Luckily, there is a vet within a 10 minute walk from our apartment. The vets speak varying levels of English, and Bubu seems to like them as much as any dog can like its vets. The mostly female staff love Bubu and lavish him with love and treats whenever we stop by. Much like the Taiwanese health care system, you don't need an appointment. You just pop by and wait. Truthfully, since we only live 10 minutes away, we always call first to see how many people are waiting. 

We've taken Bubu in so they could look at his ear infection, show us how to clip his nails, and because we thought he had a rash on his stomach. That rash actually just happened to be his micro nipples, so that was awkward for all of us. 

Each time we've gone in, the bill has been for about $10-20 USD. The more expensive visit was when he received two medications. 

We had two cats in America, and I can tell you we had a very different price tag when leaving the vet. Now, as one of my dearest friends is a vet in America, I know it is not because the vets want to charge that much. They have to due to various factors like insurance. That is definitely not the case here though. 

Suffice it to say, having Bubu in Taiwan is much more affordable on the health care front than it will be if we move somewhere else. 

doggy day care is super, duper cheap too
In February, we sent Bubu away to YoYo's doggie day care in Taoyuan, Taiwan, a city about an hour north of where we live. We went with Yoyo's daycare because our friend had used it for her two dogs in the past. While we did not actually leave Taiwan over winter break, we did travel around the island so we needed somewhere to send Bubu. 

More importantly, though, we needed to know we could send Bubu somewhere that he didn't loathe when we leave Taiwan for our longer summer breaks in the future. Anyone who has ever looked into flying a pet overseas knows it is expensive and not something to be taken lightly, especially considering Taiwan's rabies free status. 

Essentially, there is no way we are ever putting Bubu on an airplane until we leave Taiwan for good. 

I think sending Bubu away was harder on me than it was on him. Yoyo's has cameras literally all over the property. At any time, I could log on to its secure server and see Bubu. I watched him play with other dogs (in his awkward Bubu way) when they are let outside to play three times a day for a total of three hours. I watched him eat. I even watched him sleep. 

Yeah, I am one of those dog moms. 
But guys, I seriously love my dog. 

Bubu was gone for a total of 7 nights and 8 days. Yoyo's drove a total of four hours picking him up and dropping him off because we have no car. The total cost for everything? $150 USD. I can only imagine what the fee would have been in America! 

many Taiwanese people are skeptical of dogs
There are a lot of stray dogs in Taiwan. A lot. So much so, it actually disgusts me. For all Taiwan does right, it really does some things wrong-- like taking care of creatures. 

I think a lot of people grow up in Taiwan fearful of dogs because of the strays. Their parents probably tell them to be cautious and afraid. Frankly, I find this absurd. Most Taiwanese street dogs are perfectly harmless. In fact, in the five years that I have lived here, I have only had one experience with an aggressive street dog, and all I had to do was lunge at it before it ran away with its tail in between its legs. 

When I take Bubu for a walk, many people will actively avoid us at all costs. For example, if we are walking toward someone on the sidewalk, usually that person will walk in the road to avoid getting too close to Bubu when we pass. 

You know, because Bubu is obviously a terrifying beast with the intent to do everyone great harm. 

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  1. Ahhh, he is such a cutie! I'm glad he's been warming up to his new home! We just adopted a dog (abroad) about four months ago as well and I feel the same about not wanting to fly with him unless we have to - so expensive! Unfortunately, so are doggy daycares here, so the best course is to have him stay with the breeder (who offered - bless her heart) or with a friend.

    1. Thanks! I think he is just adorable, which is why he gets so many treats everyday :) I feel so fortunate that just about everything in Taiwan is so affordable. It certainly makes life easier. While I know we would have gotten Bubu anyways, the affordable nature of doggy daycare reduces a lot of stress we felt about having a pet due to our expat lifestyle.