Thursday, November 17, 2005

It's a dog eat dog world (so who's guarding the dogs?)

Vietnam probably isn’t the best country for a dog to live in, but any country that ate you wouldn’t be on your shortlist either. So says Teddy de Burca Jnr.

Fido the dog, if he had a brain, and given the choice, probably wouldn’t bee line for Vietnam or Korea, or wherever else roasts, minces and devours our faithful canine friend. But then, I’m not one to go looking for cannibals.

But besides being on the menu, or being the possible victim of dog-napping, it is still far from a dog’s life in Vietnam. You don’t often see dogs bounding around parks, playing fetch, or rolling around with their owners like young brothers wrestling for fun. Or someone scratching the hairy one’s ears, and saying in a Muppet-styled voice, “Oh, you like that, don’t you boy? Yes, I know you do.” There are no kennels. There’s no culture of people cleaning up after them (ah the poop-a-scoop), pampering them, spooning out chunks of oh-so succulent Pedigree Chum. Dogs are usually treated, well, like dogs. What would Barbara Woodhouse think?

In fact, outdoors, away from houses, I only seem to see dogs being dragged mercilessly down the road with a rope for a leash, as the owner hurtles up the dyke road (Tran Nhat Duat) on his moped. Distressingly for the poor dog, doing its best to keep up, the dyke road leads straight to Au Co street, home to innumerable Thit Cho (Dog Meat) restaurants. One man’s kitchen is another animal’s abattoir.

The restaurants are famous for serving up seven dishes, from boiled dog cutlets to fried bowels, or plain old roasted meat. The dishes are to be downed with strong spirits – ruou (rice wine) or vodka. The executive chefs of the dog world can allegedly cook the seven dishes on one stove.

The simple stilt-house style restaurants are usually roaring with customers from halfway through the Lunar month till the end, as during this period eating dog can, so they say, help you “giai den” (erase bad luck). After the 1st, it is therefore bad luck.

You may not be tempted, but the meat won’t bite. It is however, as a protein-filled meat, an overwhelming taste but known for its invigorating qualities.

Perhaps, again only if you were a “thinking” dog, you might try your look in Ha Tay province, where there is one village that is said to worship dogs as a deified animal – could it be the Mecca of the Mutt? Where dogs are glorified, petted and cherished?

Not really, the village is home to plenty of popular dog restaurants as the locals believe eating the godly canines only helps them stay in spiritual tune – the local Holy Communion,
I suppose.

Of course, back in the city, the culture may be changing. More and more families seem to be in the market for a dog, as a pet. Two years ago, on my street, there was one. It was so irritating (it never stopped barking at night) that everyone immediately followed suite.

In the absence of house alarms, I suppose they were bought for security reasons. But now at night the whole neighbourhood lies in bed listening to a cacophony of woofs. You might think some man is scaling your gates or prising open the door with a crow bar, but actually the dogs are barking at, well, pretty much anything – passing bikes, crying babies, slamming doors and, worst of all, themselves.

Once one begins they’re all at it, like a pack of boisterous men at a bar, barking till the cows come home, or perhaps more precisely, dawn approaches, and the engines start up and the horns begin to beep, and after another sleepless night, between the dogs and the motorbikes you wonder which one you will exact your revenge upon.

Of course, you can’t eat a motorbike.

Quotes on man's faithful friend

“I have caught more ills from people sneezing over me
and giving me virus infections than from kissing dogs.”
Barbara Woodhouse

“To his dog, every man is Napoleon, hence the constant popularity of dogs.”
Aldous Huxley

“It’s no coincidence that man’s best friend cannot talk.”

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive
evidence you’re great”
Ann Landers

“I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.”
Rita Rudner

“I can train any dog in five minutes. Their owners take much longer.”
Barbara Woodhouse


James Sycamore said...

I might be barking up the wrong tree, but dogs in Vietnam have bad breath dont they?

Yorkie said...

Barking mad, more like James. I mean, did you actually smell a dog's breath in Vietnam? Really.

Did you ever see the independent film by Paul Davis and Peter Holdsworth? Called "one man and the search for his dog". A unknown, unheard of, unseen classic of contemporary Hanoian cinema.

Anonymous said...

i'm interested in the film, because of the name and the producers.

and this time, what's mephic?

pittstop designer said...

I've not only heard of that film but I've seen it. It exists only in legend now. Davis was genius as the low-key rag-tag Chaplinesque star of the film. Holdsworth's camerawork was delicate yet earthy. Altogether it was deadly and comic. I was moved. Physically.

Venitha said...

My favorite: "If I have any beliefs about immortality,
it is that certain dogs I have known will go to heaven,
and very, very few persons."
James Thurber

I am left ill at the thought of eating dog. How can they?

Darryl Vanguard said...

With chopsticks.