My aunt in Taiwan is one of the few true dog lovers in my (very, very large) family. She keeps her pets very differently from what I’ve grown accustomed to. In her view, dogs are strictly outdoors pets, though her purebred Maltese and Pomeranians are occasionally permitted to flounce about indoors. Her favorite Maltese often gets to ride in her purse on errands about town, but the rest stay home to keep guard and earn their keep. Most of her dogs don’t get daily walks, though they get lots of time to freely roam the garden, a fairly spacious plot.
Occasionally she’ll chance upon a high-energy dog that obviously needs extra exercise. But mostly, auntie’s dogs bend to her way of life, which involves a lot of busywork and activity about the house.
She values her Taiwan dogs, her tugou, as household guardians. Thus, she often favors the darker-colored ones that others will ditch, since black dogs with white feet, in particular, are considered extremely inauspicious. To her, it makes no difference in terms of functionality, companionship, and loyalty.
Lucky, picture below, is currently her oldest dog. He was about nine years old in the summer of 2009 when these pictures were taken. His head makes me think he’s part Akita, but his ancestry remains as mysterious as the morning fog draped over the local mountains.
And the beagle below was her latest addition at the time. He was found seeking refuge in the yard with an injury to the face and signs of neglect all over his body. Auntie got him patched up, and since he didn’t show any inclination of leaving, she decided to let him stay.
I do look forward to the trip back to that village — those mountains, those people, those dogs… though things may change faster than I can document them.