Owning A Dog in Korea

For the entire time I've lived in Korea, I've kind of lived with one foot out the door.  I've spent four years preparing for the thing after Korea, all the while being slowly pulled deeper into Korea.  It started when we came back two and a half years ago.  We bought a T.V. and threw ourselves into our jobs, planning early on to stay a second year.  Then, after months of going back and forth, we decided to stay a third year, buying a car and a couch, putting up pictures in our apartment, making Pohang more and more our home.  Now it's time for those deliberations again, will we or won't we leave Korea?  And yet, despite the fact that we're weighing all of our options, we keep making decisions that pull us deeper into this Korean life.  

Our latest, and biggest, commitment to our life here is our new dog Gus.  For years we've wanted to have a dog, but the timing was never right.  We never had enough time or our landlords weren't keen on an animal occupying their apartment.  Finally, in our third year at this job, things have lined up and we've added Gus to our little family.

Having a dog in Korea is probably a lot like having a dog anywhere else.  You need time, money, patience, and a stomach for cleaning up after a dog just barely house-broken.  Getting Gus was a piece of cake.  The shelter in Pohang would have given me a dozen if I had $30 for each.  Before we'd even asked any questions about Gus, the guy was handing me the paperwork to sign and trying to get my money.  I don't think it was anything shady, they were just super motivated to move some animals. I've heard of other shelters going through rigorous screening processes, but in Pohang, $30 and a signature means you can have a dog today.

Having two incomes has been a major help with the dog.  He's been neutered (150,000), micro-chipped (30,000), treated for ear parasites and blood parasites (200,000), he needed a crate (150,000) and toys and bones and all kinds of other stuff that I had no idea dogs needed and we walk him four times a day.  So he hasn't been cheap.  The biggest obstacle is space.  Our apartment is small, we don't have a yard, and there's nowhere close by to let him off the leash and have him run.  It's a bummer for the dog, but we do our best, getting him out as much as possible.  It's a lot of work, but it's been great.  In trying to think up this post I've been trying to put my finger on why having a dog is worth it.  I can't figure it out, all I know is that it is.  Having a dog just makes me feel better.  So, here's our dog, Gus.  As always 10 pictures and some foolish comments.
Getting a dog and starting winter means that there are already hundreds of pictures of Gus lying on the couch.  This one might be my favorite.

He's a pretty good dog in the car, so we took him up the coast to one of the rocky beaches. 

Not everywhere is dog friendly in Korea, but Oeosa Temple just outside of Pohang has some great trails and nobody yelled at us.

It's really a bummer we don't have a yard, because he really likes to run.  

There are now very few pictures of Sara without Gus.


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  2. Although there appears to be less breed variation than in locations like Canada and the United States, pets including dogs, rabbits, birds, and hamsters are easily accessible in pet stores or at certain markets. There are fewer cats because many South Koreans still think they are a little bit evil. Compared to the majority of Western nations, there is still a lack of choice and accessibility in pet food, supplies, and veterinary treatment.

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