On September 1st, 2018 Free Korean Dogs stepped in to liberate 69 canine residents (later to become 83 after the birth of a few litters from pregnant rescues) from a dog meat farm in Dangjin, S. Korea who were destined for slaughter. This is one of their stories:
Wally wasn’t always the funny, goofy Labrador retriever most people know him to be. His name was Gamza in a previous life, and in a time before that, he was a mere livestock commodity without a name.
Every year, millions of dogs are raised and slaughtered for human meat consumption in South Korea, the only country in the world that commercially farms dogs for food. The lack of regulation surrounding the dog meat trade resultsin the lack of standards for safety and welfare. As a result, it is common practice for dogs to be brutally tortured prior to slaughter under the belief it enhances flavor and nutritional healing properties, despite the overwhelming lack of evidence to support these claims. Annual festivals such as Boknal celebrate these traditions; it is estimated that over one million dogs are callously murdered during this time alone.
This would have been Wally’s world.
When Wally arrived at his foster home in Toronto in October 2018, all he wanted to do was melt into the wall and be invisible. He sat in the corner with his head hung low, breathing heavily, too afraid to look up. Everything including his own shadow quite literally terrified him. It was clear how emotionally shutdown he was, conceded to defeat, inconsolable, and nearly catatonic.
Having other foster mates around was the only solace for him, but these consolations eventually turned back into fear when his friends were adopted one by one while he was left behind, likely reminiscent of his time on the farm. Wally had no idea how to behave in a home and often destroyed things in his unknowingness in how to calm his unease. It was also not uncommon to find him sitting next to his own waste, as it was simply what he was used to.
As he decompressed we slowly discovered that deep down, Wally did crave human contact and interaction. Like any sentient being he sought love and affection, although initially not understanding how to achieve this. During a notable incident, he one day decided he would let his guard down and ask for a belly rub, only to be caught in a moment of emotional conflict and submissively urinate everywhere.
It took months for Wally to gain trust in both people and himself. The new world was big and scary, but he took everything in stride. He soon realized there was kindness in this world, and that toys, walks, and belly rubs were some of the best things in life.
Five months later, Wally finally found a forever home to call his own. For weeks, he struggled to make eye contact, never wagged his tail, and needed coaxing to leave his bed for walks. But once outside, you could see him relax, with his joy and curiosity pushing his fears away.
Today, he’s become the joy of his family’s life and everyone’s household. Wally leaves a big paw print on the hearts of everyone he meets. He has yet to meet a dog he doesn’t love, and vice versa. His presence has brought the neighborhood together, as they stop by daily to see and play with him. He is the perfect mixture of playful and mischievous, often wrestling with his sister (also a FKD rescue!), stealing her blankets, or collecting shoes and laundry from his pawrents. His antics bring daily joy and laughter; every day is like Christmas day.
When he isn’t napping, he is playing. Snuggling is the next best thing, and belly rubs are still the world’s greatest invention. Wally will put his paw on you and roll over for a belly rub, or sit upright on his bum like a human, smiling while he exposes his belly. He is full of love and full of beans, loving his morning walks, wrestling with his sister, and jumping into water or mud holes. But home is where the heart is, where he feels happiest and safest. As much as he loves his walks, he loves coming home even more.
Wally’s most admirable quality is his ability to forgive. We can’t imagine what he’s seen and been through, but he has miraculously allowed himself to trust humans again despite how some have wronged him. He’s never whined or complained; the only thing he asks for is kindness and to be loved. Wally’s world is simple, yet wonderfully optimistic. 38 of his fellow dog meat farm survivors remain in Korea today, who need a little more physical and emotional healing before they can make their trip to Canada. It is with great hope they will soon be able to cross the ocean and, like Wally, learn that love and compassion does exist in this world.
Written by Sara Liao with contributions from Wally’s forever family
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