Asian Dogs


People wonder why I put up with John’s dog. “What was he thinking getting such a vicious beast?” they whisper as they hear the growls behind the bedroom door. John saw big, John saw fluff. He saw a Newfie that didn’t drool. He saw a family guard dog. He’d never been to Tibet. He didn’t really think about what a dog who will gleefully take on a lion might actually be like.

But I sympathize. In 1980 National Geographic World featured a shar-pei on the cover. I had to have one. When I was sixteen my long-suffering boyfriend, Joe, offered to buy me one. I was aware of the dog’s noble origins, as fighting dogs from China. The wrinkles were to prevent more serious muscle injuries. I took none of this into account as I brought my puppy home. It should be of no surprise to anyone that he was aggressive. He did, however, live a decent life (in the seclusion of my mother’s home), but he certainly wasn’t that ‘car dog’ I had been picturing.

I can relate to John’s desire for a pet who could easily scare away mountain lions. I can overlook the fact there is a reason this breed is largely unknown (question: Have you ever seen one of these dogs?) Since YouTube hadn’t been invented yet, I can forgive John’s ignorance of Chinese videos of snarling, fighting dogs (one in particular with a man and a shovel, and a TM all upset about something).

I can even excuse his lack of historical research. Alexander David Neel’s books about Tibet do mention these dogs, and more than a few passages go into great detail about how no one, not a single villager would dare to try to enter an area with a bunch of these dogs scattered in the dirt, lying seemingly lifeless.

The words “primitive breed” are so much more meaningful now. Basically, the dog’s just doing his job.

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