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  • Writer's pictureBianca

Labor Day 2021: A Day Trip and a Rescue Dog

On May 3, 2021, I took a day trip to Nanjing in an attempt to recreate my one day Nanjing itinerary completely unaware that I would be returning with a tiny little rescue dog!

Girl sitting with puppy in her lap
Outside the vet the day we found my lil rescue pup

What started out as a perfect sunny day for a trip quickly turned into an extremely frustrating morning when my friend and I arrived at Ox Head Mountain and were greeted with a massive line to get in.


Our rookie mistake dawned on us - we traveled on labor day. Anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in China will advise you never to visit tourist hot spots on a national holiday or you'll find yourself faced with crowds of tourists from every corner of the country.


After waiting over an hour just to enter Ox Head Mountain, we were promptly faced with another equally long line to get into the Usnisa Palace. Once we finished up checking out the temple inside, we decided it wasn't worth waiting in the hot sun for hours to see everything and called for a DiDi (think Chinese Uber) to get out. Only we were something like number 240 in queue. Sigh. Time for public transit.


On the way to find a bus, we spotted the cutest little ball of fluff walking with a family blowing bubbles and were talking about how lucky they were to have such an adorable pup. But then the family kept walking and the pup was left behind. He ran from person to person trying to get everyone and anyone's attention until he got to us. We immediately fell in love!

puppy resting its chin on a pair of legs
Look at that face!

We tried to leave, but he would let out a cry and try to follow us each time we did. Since we didn't want him to follow us out onto the loud main road, we stayed back and tried to see if he belonged to anyone. We noticed that he smelled like fresh shampoo and had his claws recently clipped so we figured he must be a pet.


When we ran out of people walking nearby, we went door to door in the area to ask if anyone knew whose dog this was. Eventually we came across an ayi (respectful term for a female adult of roughly middle age) who told us that he was tossed out of a car a couple days ago. Apparently the owners either didn't want him or couldn't take care of him (at this point my Chinese wasn't good enough to catch which of the two she said, but moral of the story is that he was officially a stray).


Our hearts dropped. We couldn't leave him alone - he was so small you could scoop him up with one hand; how would he survive??

We took to a number of WeChat groups to see if anyone had a contact for a rescue shelter in Nanjing, but unfortunately our search came up empty. With our train back to Shanghai later that evening, the clock was ticking.

puppy on man's lap
I mean really. How could I leave him behind?

I decided if I could get him to Shanghai, I could foster him until we found him a permanent home. We checked with the train station only to find out that trains in China don't allow pets. Great. Another dead end.


After talking to a contact of a contact of a contact we finally were able to get in touch with someone who transported pets across China. They met us within 30 minutes and drove him all the way to my apartment in Shanghai. I was super worried and nervous from the moment he left, considering the fact that I put his life in the hands of a complete stranger. But all's well that ends well - I got into Shanghai around 9pm and he was home by midnight.

back of dog head as the dog watches a reality show on a laptop
His hobbies include watching trash reality tv with me.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I've named him (Zeus), gotten rid of his fleas and worms, and started his vaccines. Plus I'd begun training him and he already knew his name, how to sit, and when to go to bed! I was sucked in. Zeus was mine and would continue to be mine even after several dozen pairs of chewed up shoes.


dog turned to face the camera gazing off into the distance with a content expression on its face. Sunset in background.
Here's Zeus one year later and loving life!


















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