Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A dog's life

I just realized it's been one year since Lucy Rocket joined our family! She marked the occasion by eating her very first shoe.

I was not pleased at all, especially since finding shoes for my American sized 9 feet is difficult in Asia... Next time perhaps I need to remember the date and bake her a doggy cake so she doesn't snack on my patent leather!

Honestly though, she has never destroyed anything before, so it's been a pretty great year over all. Lucy is a very well travelled dog... she was born in Hong Kong, moved to Macau where she found us, and then moving to Shanghai all before she was a year old. Reminds me of my oldest son!

Having a dog makes living abroad incredibly complicated, much more so than having children. But maybe that's because I've done this quite a bit with children but only just a year with a pet? The biggest complication is money. It's not cheap to move an animal from one country to another. Moving her here from Macau, a two hour flight away, ran us over $2500 USD for all the required paperwork, government clearances, fees, and a pet relocation service. The flights for our family of four humans cost only $350 total. I shudder to think how much it will cost us when we leave Shanghai, perhaps for somewhere much further away.

There are other complications as well, like finding a reputable, well-trained vet for general health and then dealing with the non-English speaking government vet for the official rabies vaccination and licensing. Finding someone to care for her while we go out of town is another big one, and we travel quite a bit. Macau was far easier in that regard. We had a full time domestic helper who doted on her, plus three families who would fight over who got to take her in for our monthly trips to Hong Kong or elsewhere. Here we have a part time ayi (housemaid) only in the afternoons and many friends who would love to take her in but aren't allowed pets in their buildings. Most people here with pets have a full time ayi and just ask her to temporarily move in while they are gone. This isn't an option for our ayi, who also works for four other families around town. When we went to Hong Kong before Christmas, a dog-loving friend took her in for the week. For our trip to America in two weeks we'll be boarding her for the first time ever with the company who provides the groomers who come to our house each month. Fortunately when they get together it's a love fest, so I know she'll be in good hands.

Despite any complications of having a pet while living overseas, I absolutely adore having a dog. Especially this dog. I think she contributes to our overall sense of well-being and grounds us. A house is really a home if there's a dog in it (or a cat I'm sure, but I can only speak from the perspective of a dog owner), and I think she had a lot to do with us settling in so quickly here. The boys are willing to do crazy things to care for her and have learned so much responsibility. She's such a calm little thing... we brought her home on the first day of Chinese New Year last year, and the 24/7 fireworks and firecrackers blasting for nine days straight outside our building didn't even register for her. The firecrackers that go off here every morning as well as most evenings don't phase her one bit, nor do the constant stream of boats on the river who sound their loud and long horn blasts. My friends with dogs in America are always talking about how on the 4th of July (American Independence Day) they have to give their animals sedatives to help them make it through the annual single evening display of fireworks. Lu may be small, but she's a tough chick.

Perhaps the best thing about Lucy Rocket is her unwavering and enthusiastic love for us and pretty much everyone she comes into contact with (except the food delivery guys in their motorcycle helmets from Sherpa. She want to kill them. Don't bite the hand that feeds your humans!). Returning from even the briefest of errands earns us a greeting like no other. She wiggles with excitement, wagging her tiny tail so fast it blurs, going from person to person to person and back again, doling out puppy kisses along the way as if we've been gone for a year. Makes me happy to come home every time!

Happy one year anniversary with our crazy wandering family, Lucy Rocket! You are still a sparkly diamond in some rather grey days. And considering we live on the 38th floor, you really are Lucy in the sky, like your Beatles song moniker.


For the most part however, she's Lucy at my feet. Oh how we love Lucy!

1 comment:

CEZ said...

She is so ADORABLE I could just squeeze her to a pulp! Totally reminds me of Hannah's numerous stuffed doggies!