Hi guys, we're back from our recent trip to Taiwan! During this trip we've managed to learn a bit about the dog culture there and would be glad to share our views (and photos) with you :)
For those who have not been there, Taiwan is an extremely dog friendly country, you can see dogs almost everywhere you go even in rural areas. The moment we touched down at Taoyuan airport, we've already been spotting dogs all over the place with their owners. I started to wonder, what is it that makes them different from us, what we can do to create more awareness, to let people know that Singapore too can be a dog friendly place?
We spent a day in Taipei before moving on to other areas of Taiwan, the funny thing is that there are almost no bins especially in Taipei, which means that it is very hard to throw rubbish, bins are not prominent even in night markets. So if anyone needs to throw away something quick, the fastest way is to pass them back to the stalls, in which they'd gladly help you to throw them away, if not you'd have to hold it with you till a bin is found. The surprising thing is that there are very few litter lying on the ground, no dog poop spotted throughout our 8 days journey around Taiwan either. I find that Taiwanese (especially those living in Taipei) are very well educated in keeping their country clean, it is very hard to imagine this happening in Singapore, where most people's concept would be to throw rubbish on the ground since there are no bins and to leave poop lying around because it is to "act as fertilizer for the grass", or even worst, believing that this is the cleaner's job. I find it really awful to see dog poop regularly in my estate and even along the pathways to shopping malls, sometimes I'd even have to help pick up while walking my dog to avoid misunderstandings, very hard to imagine the feeling of residents that isn't a dog owner.
Traveling with dogs in Taiwan is really easy as their public can tolerate dogs, most owners also have their own vehicle, scooters are very popular and common! The traffic in Taiwan is always busy and dangerous, however we felt that it was even worst than our last visit in 2010, vehicles constantly cutting lanes, bi directional signs on tight passageway, they are even allowed to speed along the road in night markets, as long as there isn't any roof above your head, you'd have to keep a lookout for vehicles all the time.
I've seen owners putting their dogs in a backpack/carrier during public transport and so far there are no complains seen. However when it comes to private transport, majority of owners would simply allow their dogs to rest on the platform of their scooters without any form of support, this is really dangerous in my opinion.
We've seen plenty of dogs throughout our stay all around Taiwan, strays aside, there were not once where we saw attacks occurring, worst was just a couple of barks and that's it. Most dogs in Taiwan are very friendly, I believe it's the way the country deals with them - everyone would be happy to bring their furkids along wherever they go, which means that they get lots of exposure since young, towards different environment, people and animals, going for long trip would also meant more chance for exercises.
That being said however, I do notice that most of the dogs are fairly stressed whenever they are in stationary position, they'd look calm and happy when allowed to walk on the ground but become really tensed up when carried/placed on objects. As for the reason, I believe the main cause is due to being treated like humans, from the way they are carried to human talks, the issue there is kinda similar to Singapore, but much more worst. If anyone had studied little on canine behaviors, they should understand that dogs do not enjoy being treated that way, they may feel uncomfortable and stressed out, so during times where they are not doing anything they'd have to focus on their owner's treatment, this could also be the time when stress starts accumulating.
Though we saw quite a number of strays in Taiwan, the one that stood out the most was in Wu Lai. We got the chance to experience a unique sensation of walking down a street filled with lots of strays/abandoned dogs, this was not the usual packs of strays that you see in secluded areas, I could clearly see that there's a hierarchy among the dogs and its so different that I'd consider this as one of the most unique experience that I've ever encountered with dog packs.
Wu Lai old street is so small that you can finish within 20 minutes of strolling, and there are already more than 15 dogs spotted in this street alone. As expected, dogs on the street are much more territorial and protective of their space and food, but they still managed to get along rather well considering the size of the place. The way they work things out was pretty surprising, first of all each dogs are assigned to a stall along the street, I'm sure the humans had a part in this, which means that every single dog will be residing under a stall and only guard that area, any other dogs that attempt to enter the stall will be warned. This is also where I saw some arguments going on when one of them decided to venture in another dog's stall, just a straight up body and stare language made the intruder turn back and left. Among the strays we could spot all sorts of breeds, from regular mongrel (mixed breed) to even pedigree breeds like Chowchow and mini schnauzer. With each dog guarding the stalls at night, I was worried if they would react towards humans, thankfully they were not bothered and even allowed me to snap some shots of them face on. After a couple of minutes we got used to the environment, as if we are already part of the residents!
cat hiding in drains
lots of stray/abandoned dogs and we got to see their behaviors
each guarding a stall
drinking from pots
even got a chow chow here
this was really dark and i had to brighten the photo up a lot
lots of critters
We managed to visit a small zoo at one of Taiwan's popular themepark - Leofoo Village, similarly to Tobu Zoo in Japan and Dreamworld at Australia. We felt that comparing the other 2, Taiwan's themepark zoo was in a worst state, the park was not only old and not up to date, the enclosures were also really small and uncomfortable. Animals were very bored and i saw some with mental illness, also a chimp with broken finger due to frequent pulling of the metal cages.
Theres a sheep farm at QingJing which is on top of a huge hill, sheeps are allowed to free roam and interact with humans. It was a really pleasant experience visiting this place, the sheeps are well fed and behaved naturally, we even saw a male humping! Just be careful of stepping on sheep poops as there are lots and lots of them, there are also a lot of steep stairs so do consider if there are seniors or those with difficulties walking/climbing.
always lucky to see this kind of things
We had actually planned half a day to visit one of Taiwan's biggest teacup breeding farm, located in Tainan and is becoming rather popular in Singapore. You long breeding center, or known as teddy5299, is a breeding factory based in Tainan, there's dogs there are sold at exorbitant prices because they are smaller than usual toy poodles, which is also known as teacup poodles. The prices of puppies are set based on size first, which means that the smaller the poodle turns out, the more expensive it will be. They'd even proudly boast that it's because extremely small sized puppies are harder to "take care" of, in my mind it actually meant they die quicker.
Before going there, I had checked and even dropped them a message to make sure they are still operating, however the only information I provided was that I am in Singapore and wish to purchase their dogs, they replied and even welcomed me to visit their main store in Taiwan. When we reached there, the store front was decorated with wallpaper of poodles, sign is still intact, only the main gate was closed! I thought that we were unlucky to have gone on their off day, after awhile of calling someone finally picked up and told me that their physical store had not been operating for a long time, but is still offering sale of puppies, online.
Well it was a disappointment but also a good experience, we now know that this place is not only unethical in breeding, they even lied to overseas customers that theres a physical store in Taiwan, in fact all it remains is just a breeding factory to serve foreigners. The first time I came to learn about this place was about 3 years ago, shared by a Taiwanese to our page to warn other people not to purchase from them, this person had bought a teacup from them and then found out that it had heart issues, the dog died after awhile.
That's all we have for now, our next trip will be to Finland and we can't wait to share them with you!