Now that I’ve lived here a while, I am aware of great mysteries of the Orient unfolding around me. Like a Shaolin monk, I am now keenly attuned to mystical Eastern practices and philosophies that might occur at any point in my day-to-day life. I don’t have to meditate on a mountainside or engage in the honourable art of wushu to experience these revelations; no, I just go about my life as normal, marking the minibus driver drinking his flask of jasmine tea or my neighbour Kong Pau Pau salting fish in a huge obeliskical drying basket swinging from an abandoned clothes rack outside her house. These are simple observations but they confirm that Hongkongers enjoy a gentle and peaceable existence, despite living in 400sq.f apartments with five of their relatives and over 600 incarnations of Hello Kitty. Most of them, especially in Sai Kung, also have two or three dogs living on their balconies.
And here is where we can really learn something from the Hongkongers. My amateur anthropological observations have shown that Australian society and Hong Kong society each have much to learn from the other. Australians could learn to live without aggression and covetousness, and also to show respect for each other; Hongkongers could learn to be less bounden by class and status, and also not to hawk phlegm/cut their nails/squeeze their pimples on the Mass Transit Railway. And boy can they teach us a thing or two about man’s best friend.
Sai Kung, where I live, comes alive on Sunday with dogs. People come from all over the region to parade their dogs down the promenade. It’s called dogging. It’s THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING I’VE EVER SEEN. The following popular children’s ditty pops amendedly into one’s head:
If you go down to Sai Kung today
You’re in for a big surprise.
If you go down to Sai Kung today
You’d better cover your eyes.
For ev’ry dog that lives around here
Will be pushed in a pram, wearing his best gear
Today’s the day dogs get their arses wiped with a tiiiiiiiiiiiiissue.
That’s right, these people are wiping their dog’s arse WITH A TISSUE. I’ve spent many Sundays sitting on a chair on the foreshore, enjoying an ice cream with my kids, only to have the wonderful view over to Shenzhen utterly besmirched by some middle-aged lady chasing after her shitting dog with a tissue. Which she puts in her pocket after the wiping of the arse is complete. I’ve seen another lady shake her dog’s doodle off after a wee. COULD THERE BE ANYTHING MORE DEGRADING.
Why yes, there could! For these dogs are the lucky ones; they are actually ambulating as God intended, on their own four legs. Most dogs in Sai Kung as pushed around in prams. And not a modified Emmaljunga, but in prams actually made for dogs. They have waterbowl holders, a canopy to protect from the harsh mid-summer sun, and capacious pockets for all the shit-tissues. These dogs are wheeled, up to seven in a pram, around Sai Kung by proper adults aged in their 30s and 40s, the “mother” usually walking alongside the better to attend to any unscheduled wiping, the “father” proudly pushing the pram and carrying the Louis Vuitton rip-off suitcase containing all the dogs’ accessories.
Not only can dogs here not walk, their fur is apparently also ineffective. In Australia on very wintry mornings one might see the occasional dog wearing a coat thing, to which I always imagined the other dogs responding with pejorative sentiment along the lines of “Toughen up, fella”. Australian dogs would die in the arse if they came here and saw their Hong Kong counterparts wearing cardigans, runners, bedazzled socks, hats and JEANS. They have HAIRSTYLES. PERMS and RIBBONS and DYE JOBS. A number of them have DYED-ON socks in purple or pink. I’m not just talking about little lapdogs like Shih Tzus either. I’m talking about Dalmations, German Shepherds, Labradors, Weimaraners. Only last week I saw two Alaskan Malamutes wearing matching Cons and leather jackets.
WHAT THE FUCK, HONG KONG, WHAT THE FUCK!!!
These poor dogs mostly live on tiny balconies with no hope of chasing a ball or chewing on a stick. Sunday is their gala day, their chance to escape their fenced-in concrete confines and flee beachside, head full of ideas of romping on the grass and sniffing each other’s arses. Imagine the crushing disappointment of instead being dressed like a big baby, pushed all around town in a pram, before finally settling at the local seafood restaurant for lunch.
The only thing odd about this picture is that the dog isn’t wearing clothes. You cannot go into a restaurant in Sai Kung on a Sunday without seeing three or four dogs sat at each table eating food off a plate.
Our helper has a friend who works in another village for a local professional couple. They don’t have kids but they have four dogs. This helper (who has three kids of her own back home) is employed to look after the dogs on a full-time live-in basis. She sleeps in the same room as them. SHE HAS TO IRON THEIR CLOTHES. This isn’t even so uncommon as to be ludicrous.
This whole dogging thing is one Oriental mystery I haven’t felt fully illuminated of yet. I’m off to sit on a mountainside and ponder my shortcomings in canine/human interaction. I just don’t think I’m ever going to get it, even after six months’ solitary contemplation culminating in a week-long fast where the only permissible food would be a soup made of bitter gourd. (I’ve heard that Buddhists can experience revelations on another spiritual plane by this method.)
PS. While Googling for pictures of dogs in clothes, I found this:
Websites for dog clothes?
What are some good websites where I can order dog clothes for my Beagle puppy? Not too expensive and doesnt have to be designer, but not cheap to where shes going to tear it apart in a day.
if you dont like it, then dont waste your time answering. Im not one of those crazy people who have a different outfit for every day and put booties and sunglasses on their dogs. Just a few sweaters and sleeveless onesies, mainly for when its cold out or when we go out shopping or something. (She loves to go to petco!). And she actually LIKES it. Shes never fought me to put the clothes on or tried to rip them off.
Thank you, not-crazy person. THANK YOU.
(Please click on the “Circle of Moms” button to the right to vote for me in the Top 25 Expat Mom Blogs. You can vote once a day until 6 June. I’m also looking for a pram and clothing sponsor for my dog…)