文圖/Story & Picture ─ Mandy Hutchinson
A visiting friend and I made plans to explore Taiwan’s countryside. Cruising on the backseat of my scooter, she pointed out the usual: temples, traditional food stands, and local fisherman. Suddenly she gasped, “a puppy!”
This was all-too-familiar; the stray dog problem in Taiwan was like nothing I’d seen. Although my heart ached every time, it seemed like too big a problem for one person.
“They are everywhere,” I replied, my voice trailing-off as we drove past a pack of dogs with some playful puppies.
“No!” She repeated. “A REAL puppy!”
I focused my gaze and sure enough, there was a tiny, helpless puppy struggling to make its way across the country road.
We pulled over and inspected the ‘forest creature’ (I later described him this way to friends; he actually resembled a bear cub). With no mother dog in sight, I held him up to my face. Despite his eyes being barely open, he caught my gaze; I knew I couldn’t leave him.
As a puppy, Salvador Dali (named after the famous Catalan artist) had every parasite imaginable. The vet said his chance of survival was dismal had he been left on the road that day.
Sal recovered quickly, and I learned that I can’t change the whole world but I changed the whole world for him.
Since Sal’s rescue, my twin sister has since joined me here in Taichung. Together, we have assisted in the rescue, sterilization and adoption of almost 15 dogs and cats. If you do the math, one unneutered dog could produce 16 puppies in a year. This could result in over 50,000 unwanted puppies in six years.
I’m thankful to have worked alongside of amazing people who work tirelessly to prevent hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of unwanted dog and cats births in Taiwan. I have seen first-hand over how much the situation has improved during my time here.
It’s true that having Sal has come with its own set of challenges and rewards - but I wouldn’t change a single thing. He has been a loyal and loving companion during my time abroad. He is my Taiwan family.