I’ve been reminiscing lately on some of my adventures. So, I’ve decided to start a little story series, in the vein of my early posts on my Horrible Layover in Spain, my near Kidnapping in Paris, and Horribly Layover Pt. 2 in Switzerland. Today, I’m thinking about when I rescued a dog in South Korea. 

My Affinity for Dogs

I love dogs. In fact, the main reason that I returned to the US from Korea was because I could find no way of getting my beloved dog to Korea. Being with her is my #1 priority for any future country moves. So maybe this dog in Korea was a way of providing me comfort.

dog at George Wyth State Park lake with bench

This is the second time I’ve managed to find and return a lost dog in my life, apparently they trust me. The first occurrence was with an adorable Yorkie-poo puppy, and there was no language barrier. Quite a simple procedure. 

This would not be quite so simple. 

It had rained that morning and the fog drifted over the mountains.

It was a nice sight that did little to relieve the humidity of the tiny bus. As usual, it was overly packed and we swayed into each other at every turn, clinging to hand rails. An adjumma (late-middle-aged woman) was trying desperately to get the bus window open.

It was not a remarkable day, and with Covid protections still at their height I played video games for most of the day at work. 

It was on my way home that I…saw a tiny puppy in the street. Street cats in Korea are incredibly common – a street puppy definitely isn’t! It was incredibly clear that this puppy did not know what the real world was, meandering in the middle of the road.

The setting looked like this – except puddles instead of snow!

Snowy street in Changwon rescued a dog in South Korea

The poor thing was wet and muddy, but it was immediately clear that this was some kind of fancy house dog based on how carefully groomed he had once been. This puppy was sooooo trusting. Adorably, terrifying trusting. As soon as I sat down to pet it, it seemed to love me.

In Korea it’s very unusual for someone to try to…well, help someone else if they don’t know them. Random acts of kindness are generally rare. I knew if I tried to help this dog I would be a weirdo.

Bowing internally to peer pressure, I started to head back down my street.

And then the dog nearly got run over.

The car rounding the corner missed the puppy by mere inches. I cannot tell you how much my heart squeezed in fear. The puppy didn’t even have a clue how it had narrowly avoided certain death, and started trotting towards the main road where it most certainly would have died.

Using a series of pets and clicking sounds, the puppy came back towards me, and began to follow me down the road.

I cannot describe how clueless and desperate my expression was. Every face I passed, I was practically begging them to take this dog from me and find it’s owner. What was I supposed to do with a lost dog in Korea?

I’ve never been to a vet, never dealt with any pet-related information in Korean (I wish I had this post), didn’t know who to contact…I didn’t even know how to get “Lost Dog” photos printed! It was going to be a nightmare. But no one met my gaze – except for a grandpa type who smirked at my misfortune.

As the dog was following me down the street, I finally realized that he was injured. His right hip appeared to give out occasionally and he would stumble. So I had to pick him up.

Picture it. Foreign girl in a rain coat with a random dirty puppy on a random residential street.

So…I rescued a dog in South Korea

Rescued a dog in South Korea

This dog in particular!

I smuggled him into my apartment and tried to clean him up as much as possible (and of course snapped a few pics). It was then that I began to try to find a way to get him back to his owner.

I contacted every Korean person I knew. The leader of my Korean language-learning group, my cafe-hopping friend, my Korean co-teacher – and they all had the same things to say.

“Why did you pick him up? I don’t know what you should do. Maybe call the police?” Yes, you heard that right, contact the police for a lost dog. The mind boggles.

I went for the American solution.

My American friend and I managed to find a local vet on KakaoMaps. And so, little-dog-in-box in tow, I began the journey across my area of town. More weird looks, the puppy in the box was terribly unwieldy, but with a lot of stops and starts we made it.

And the vet immediately recognized the dog! In a “Omg what are you doing with this dog” kind of way. With lots of exclamations, chip checking, and photo comparisons, and finally texting the supposed owner, they sent me on my way.

I gave a sad little wave of goodbye.

But, I couldn’t believe it…the owner actually contacted me later that day.

Text from the owner of the rescued dog in South Korea

Rough translation, “Hello, I’m the owner of the dog – thank you so much for rescuing my dog, thank you so much” with some Korean crying emojis.

All in all, this is a fond memory of mine, and goes to show that helping people and animals is valued anywhere!

Liked reading about the time I rescued a dog in South Korea? Check out my other posts!

Korean UNESCO sites looking down on the courtyard with hanging lanterns
Everywhere to Visit in South Korea (51 Places!)
Korean UNESCO sites a boardwalk through green reeds towards a mountain
Why You Should Teach English in South Korea

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