Had no one intervened, Dori’s fate would have ended in one of two ways. In the first scenario, he would have been slaughtered for meat and cooked into a soup during Boknal, Korea’s annual tradition where dog meat is consumed under the (unfounded) belief it boosts the immune system, among other health benefits. As a Korean Tosa, also known as a Korean Mastiff, Dori’s breed is widely considered to be a “dog meat breed” and as a result is commonly bred, stigmatized, and marginalized as such.
Unfortunately, the days leading up to Boknal saw catastrophic levels of rainfall and flooding in Korea, leaving Dori and his family floundering in the water while chained, trying to survive. In this second scenario, he would have perished in the flood. This crisis became a blessing in a curse. While everyone in the village was evacuating their homes, taking with them whatever they could salvage, our volunteers asked their owner to surrender the dogs to us. It was a nail-biting, 2 days of negotiations. Finally, the owner relented and allowed us to rescue them.
A Medical Diagnosis
Despite being saved from the floods, Dori wasn’t completely out of the woods. Our first clue was that he was noticeably smaller than (who we presumed were) his siblings. Upon arriving at the safety of the boarding house, Dori became a frequent patron of the vet’s office. After many tests and visits, we finally received a diagnosis and were thankfully enabled with the knowledge of how to tailor his care moving forward.
Journey to Canada
When Dori was finally stable, on Monday, March 14th, 2022, he landed in Canada and officially became a Korean-Canadian citizen. The subsequent months were not as stable as we would have liked, although through no fault of anyone. As he had not found his forever family prior to arrival, Dori required a foster home. He faced many hurdles through his temporary homes, including one where the resident dog became extremely jealous of him, and another where it became clear that he was better suited to having a secure yard of his own, and needed to be moved again in order to provide that for him. His fostering period also came when the world began returning to “normal”, with people embracing travel once again after easing pandemic restrictions. As a result, many foster families had made travel plans and could not keep him for long.
This didn’t mean that Dori was not advocated for. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Along the way, Dori stole many hearts and attracted a group of supporters whose only wish was to see him settled in a forever home. What we didn’t know at the time was that he had already been in his ‘forever’ home. One of Dori’s foster homes, coincidentally one where he thrived the most, ended up becoming his forever family. They could not continue fostering him due to travel plans, but when his forever family went on their vacation, Dori travelled with them in spirit. Having stolen their hearts, his former foster parents came back for him to be his forever family.
A Home to Call His Own
On October 8th, just 1 week short of 7 months since his arrival in Canada, Dori made his way home to his new mom, dad, human brother, and canine brother. He recognized his mom the moment she walked in to pick him up and was back playing with his canine brother, who was also adopted through Free Korean Dogs, like no time had passed. Dori was finally home, and he knew it.
Caring for dogs with special medical or behavioral needs requires an extra commitment from foster and forever home families. In any other circumstance, Dori would have been the first to appear on the euthanasia list and taken from us too soon. It is an unfortunate reality that the ones who end up at the top of the euthanasia list are the ones who need our help the most.
It was a privilege to be a part of Dori’s journey, and we feel so fortunate to have been able to provide him with the care he needed to succeed. If anyone had the pleasure of meeting him, they would know he was worth every breath of effort and every last penny. Thank you to everyone who supported, advocated, and believed in him. And thank you for his forever family for embracing him, quirks and all. Welcome home, Dori!