Most weekends I meet up with my friend in Yanjae and we go to her family home in Punggi. She's like a sister to me and I adore her son and we share a love of animals. This story is not about a cat, but first let me tell you about my friend's cat.
One day while we were gardening near the chicken coup she found a black cat about seven months old dying in the tall grass. She scooped her up and we carried to the apple storage building. I stayed while my friend went and got some food.
The wild had caught the common cold. It had gotten up into her sinuses. (She has a permanent case of congestion to this day). The mild illness of a house cat was would have been deadly without my friend's intervention. Keep in mind that this happened in South Korea. There is a culture element ... cats are more likely to be boiled than helped. Firemen and police don't help get the cat out of the tree. And people cross the road when the see a stray dog or chase it with a broom...
It was Sunday and Liz's son was staying with her mother because we had to "work" which is what we say when we want to go horseback riding without him. We headed toward the farm to pick up my boots. Ahead of us a one of the workers for the many farms in Punggi was running away from a big black German Shepard. She whacked the dog away with a broom.
"Stop the truck," I said. It was a redundant request because my friend was already stopping. She was out the truck faster than me and feeding the big black dog her mother's fresh baked bread. It had butter on it the dog liked it very much. He wagged his tail and flopped over in the road showing us his belly.
The farm workers asked if it was our dog and my friend explained in Korean that we were just going to help it. This got some very strange looks. Koreans aren't very animal savvy...cat or dog, and big dogs in particular strike fear.
Our next task was to try to get the dog to the farm. We tried putting him into the back of the truck but he got scared and jumped out. For a while I sat on the tailgate and walked him, but his leg was hurt and he could go fast. In the end I just walked him and my friend drove on, coming back with some much appreciated water.
He lapped it up appreciatively, tail waging but also submissive in that German Shepard way. He was skinny and his fur was extremely matted. Enough that in most cities in the states, Animal Control would leave a warning. He had been tied on a very short rope and not fed and not socialized.
We took him to the farm, set up a place for him and fed him. We came back after riding and gave him his first bath ever. It was so scary for him but he liked the scratches even though he wasn't sure about being touched everywhere. In just a week he's learned what love is and what toys are and what treats are. And what exercise is and play and what it is to run as fast has he can. We can walk the farm with him off a leash and he runs away and then comes back ... runs and comes. It's so funny.
But we worry what if someone claims him?
Mariel R. is an ESL teacher, horse trainer, writer, editor, sporadic blogger, and lover of beer. She lives in South Korea with two cats, three horses, a German Shepherd and 17 chickens.
Bear (Gom in Korean) then (above) now (below)
Geumbi (Goldy in English) R.I.P February, 23, 2018