Sunday, February 11, 2007

Taiwaner of the Week

The 'dog of Changhua,' also known as 209, is seen on Jan. 31.

I haven’t named a Taiwaner of the week in a long time. This was an especially good week for news in Taiwan with many challengers including Lee Deng Hui’s independence-gate, Chen Shui-bian’s renaming-gate and J-Hole-Chaon-gate. Well without any further delay here is Big Ell’s latest Taiwaner of the Week, 209 the dog of Changhua.

209 the dog of Changhua is a little black street dog that lives on an island at the 209th kilometer of the Sun Yat-sen Freeway between the Changhua Interchange and Yuanlin Toll Station. The Taiwanese are fond of ambiguous nicknames hence “209,” and the "dog of Changhua." 209 the dog of Changhua has stayed alive because of and in spite of the many motorists who drive past him everyday. Concerned drivers have thrown him perishable food like hot dogs and bread to keep him going. Rumor has it that 209 the dog of Changhua was also thrown non-perishable items like cans of tuna and instant noodles. Obviously the people didn’t realize that he didn’t have a can opener or hot water

When most Taiwaners think of a stray dog they picture a three-legged, almost fully emancipated mutt, fighting for the yoke of a thousand year egg behind the local Family Mart; 209 the dog of Changhua doesn’t fit this profile. 209 the dog of Changhua is smart, so smart that he has managed to evade capture 52 times over the past two years. Either 209 the dog of Changhua is as slippery as a greased pig or the authorities are incompetent. Incompetent may be too strong a word as 209 the dog of Changhua also has some street smarts.
Local police said that "209" mostly waits for food around the 209th kilometer of the freeway between 7am and 9am when drivers go to work and between 4pm and 6pm when they go off work.
209 the dog of Changhua and has become a celebrity of sorts in Taiwan. While 209 the dog of Changhua's celebrity fails to match Jolin or Jay he does matchup favorably with Taiwanese actress’Hsu who died in a car accident a few weeks back. I believes that Taiwan can ill afford to lose another celebrity so soon. I was heartened to read that animal rights do-gooders aimed to rectify the situation and save 209 the dog of Changhua.

Last Monday, members of the Kaohsiung Concern Stray Animal Association (KCSAA) launched a brazen daylight attempt to save Taiwan’s biggest canine celebrity. It took nine volunteers five hours and three attempts to tranquilize the animal. The volunteers risked their lives to get to the traffic island. Not to mention the lives of innocent drivers on the nation’s busiest freeway. If there is a Youtube clip of this incident, I really need it. The Taipei Times editorial took the group to task here.
But while the intentions of the animal welfare group were entirely honorable, their highly irresponsible modus operandi left a lot to be desired and raises a number of important issues.
The bottom line for Big Ell is that 209 the dog of Changhua is safe and soon to be adopted. Also hats off to the KCSAA who raised the bar for the local authorities by actually catching the stray animal and doing it six and half times faster.



Sean Reilly said...

That picture of John and Karl is very amusing but VERY disturbing and unfortunately it has now been burnt into my optic nerve.

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Patrick said...

IF only I had known earlier, I would have gladly thrown a can opener for 209, saving him countless hours of torment...
btw, does that talk at Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation Interest you? It might be interesting...