Before we left town, rumors were uttered across restaurant tables and whispered at back yard BBQ’s.  Eyebrows would raise, heads nod, throats clear, an uncomfortable scuffing of the foot…the hushed words would hang in the air like laundry left on the line in the rain; “they eat… dog“.

Taboo to most. But why?

Before we go any further  there are two things I should state for the record:
> 1) I’m a dog person. (we even make dog beds and cute little dog life
jackets at Astral check them out! really I should  just say I’m an animal person. We have had Sheep, pigs and a cow that I have loved as much as our dogs.
> 2)  I have been a vegetarian for longer than I’m willing to divulge  I will spare you the soap box  sermon telling you that if we were all vegetarians we could end world hunger….

I see plenty of dogs in the neighborhood here in district 2. Most are well cared for. Walked on leashes, played with, adorned with cute collars and ridden on motorbikes. Others are strays.
Like in USA, some wander the streets abandoned or lost. Our reaction is always the same when we see one: “aww poor thing it looks so sad and hungry” we empathize with their lot in life. We connect……

So, why not the same  for the homeless Chickens we see walking the streets? Why don’t they have a pretty pink collar around their neck?  When I see them I feel ambivalent to their predicament. I find it almost funny… I guess George Orwell’s quote “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others” is something to consider.

So far I hadn’t seen any thit cho (dog meat) on any menu, not even a glimpse on the street food vendor’s carts as they roll by. I was beginning to think the rumors were unfounded.  Until…. I saw the Dog Truck, (like the ones you see back home with the chickens in cages but, this one was packed full of cute little dogs). I ran outside to take a pic. What came to mind was words from  the Dr. Seuss book Go Dog Go… I called over to Philip and said “Look at those dogs go! Where are those dogs going?  They are going to a dog party!”  Philip didn’t look amused.. Oh, It took a moment to register these dogs weren’t going to any Dr.Seuss dog party up in a tree or for that matter any shelter they were going to be someones dinner.
I have a James Bond like day dream of commandeering a motorbike riding along side of the truck, jumping off the bike and into the cab ,punching out the drivers and safely delivering the dogs to orphans. But, then I think this isn’t practical because the orphanage couldn’t take care of 100 dogs plus all those kids… Okay maybe I could by a
billboard and have a PETA add with Angelina Jolie holding some dogs and some orphans with some catchy slogan about adopting dogs and kids and not eating meat or wearing fur… but I don’t think people wear dog fur… Okay scratch that now I was getting a headache. I erase the image from my camera and try to do the same to my mind.

By the next day I had pretty much convinced myself that they went to a dog party after all and were now having a blast up in a tree. Feeling better we go out for a walk in the local Ninh Binh Market.  This is what went down…..

“Look at those cool squids over there Arlo and the neat snails, wow isn’t it interesting what different foods people eat?  Isn’t this so fun and educational!!  Lalala, Ohhhh my what is that?  I try to cover Arlo’s eyes, “don’t look Lo”. Margaret is that a… Arlo interjects very matter o’ fact ” it’s a dog mom”  There in front of  us were rows of boiled dog’s head staring up at us with morbid toothy grins. Table’s full of tails, legs and even whole dogs.  My reaction was completely visceral. I felt like I was surrounded by (exaggerated whisper) cannibals
Philip and his mom and I were scarred. Back to the hotel for a banana smoothie or two with a shot of rum.

That night I dreamt of dogs barking to me help help. Arlo seem to take it in stride. I was glad the other two had stayed at the Hotel because I think they would have freaked!

For a few days I felt oddly smug and sort of angry at the local people.  I bitched about THEIR cannibalistic eating habits then as usual, once I vomited out all of my foul words I realized maybe I’m wrong maybe there is more to it…Am I intolerant of others choices?

What is the root of our disdain? Why is Fido any different than Wilbur…?   What about a bird or horse or snake??? All of these have made there way into our hearts, homes, cages and barns.  Is it because dog spelled backwards is God (just kidding about that one). If we made all livestock pets would it be harder to eat them? At first I thought maybe we are just too superficial and it all had to do with looks, but what about rabbits?  Could you look a bunny in the eye and not think he was as cute as any puppy…..and their are some ugly ass dogs out there (just google ugly ass dogs and you’ll see what I mean.)  Is it smarts? Because dogs don’t even grace Animal Planets Top 10 Smartest Animals list, but pigs come in 6th… Why have some animals escaped the knife while others haven’t?  Why do we judge one cultures eating habits over another…Is this cultural imperialism the West is pushing on the East?

I would love to hear your thoughts….What do you think?