One thing that struck me in Chengdu was how many pet dogs there were.
Little dogs, medium-sized dogs, a few huge dogs -- dogs were everywhere. Most wore jackets or sweaters (it was the depth of a chilly winter, after all), some rode in bicycle baskets. Dogs in shops, dogs in parks (Chengdu's municipal government should be lauded for its efforts at creating green spaces), dogs cradled like babies, dogs on chairs and on laps, dogs inside homes and outside, patrolling their patch of sidewalk. And not mean, wild dogs either, but well cared-for, well-fed dogs who've obviously been raised as companions, not guard animals.
It's something you just wouldn't have seen 15 years ago. It's a sign of rising affluence, I suppose, a burgeoning middle class with money to spare. But who knows? Maybe it's a sign of something else too -- a slowly changing attitude toward an animal often called 'man's best friend'.
Coincidentally, the evening we returned to Kuala Lumpur I stumbled across (while enjoying a free, unrestricted browse of the internet for the first time in three weeks) a link to story in the Chongqing Evening News about a possible 'ban' on dog meat. We'd been in Chongqing just a week before; judging by the number of restaurants advertising xiang rou ('fragrant meat', as dog meat is known in China) and dog hot pot, the possibility of dog disappearing from menus in China seemed rather slim. So I decided to investigate a bit.
It turns out that the proposed ban is not really a ban, and is unlikely to be enacted into law in any form any time soon. That doesn't mean it might not happen some day, though. You can read our story about China's 'dog meat ban', and why the media hoopla over it is much ado about not much at all, over at Zester Daily.
The Zester story is an analysis, not an opinion piece. But this is a blog, so I'm going to use this space to alert you to Animals Asia, an organization based in Hong Kong that has been working to change attitudes to dogs, cats, and other animals such as bears, in China, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia for many years -- well worth checking out if you're an animal welfare advocate.