Category Archives: Living Abroad In China

Dyed Dogs

The Chinese love nowt more than their dogs. The small ones are everywhere, being walked, or often carried, or doted on by several old folks down the park (large dogs over a certain size are banned in Beijing, so you have none of that “Pitbull eats baby” crap that you get in the UK). Anyway, because I’m lazy, here’s a bizarre story from today ripped directly from AP, that can be filed under the “can you imagine the uproar back home if…” category. Or maybe it belongs in the “for fuck’s sake” category. I must say, I have not seen any dyed dogs out and about, but then maybe they were in camouflage, disguised as a lamp post or something. By the way, got to love the writer’s name…..
Dog-tired of your pet’s look? Try a doggie dye job

By CHI-CHI ZHANG (AP) – 7 hours ago

BEIJING — Walking into Ruowen Pet Spa is like entering a doggie Halloween costume contest. There’s turtle-dog, zebra-dog, Spider-Man-dog, tiger-dog and even panda-dog.

Raphael the toy poodle runs around in his playpen like any other dog — except his snow white coat has been dyed neon green and is partially shaved with a protruding shell on top to resemble a turtle. He seems oblivious to his unique look but enjoys the attention of onlookers.

Raphael, named after a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles character, is one of half a dozen dyed dogs on display at the spa in downtown Beijing, which caters to wealthy Chinese who are fueling a booming pet craze in China.

“If you can dream it, we can make it come true,” said Sun Ruowen, who owns the spa and has worked in the pet industry for 10 years.

Sun charges anywhere from $7 to dye one ear to $300 for permanent dyeing and trimming of larger dogs — with most dye jobs lasting six months before the hair grows out.

Once banned by the Communist Party as bourgeois, pet ownership is booming in China, spawning a slew of cat and dog pampering businesses — where pets are treated to pedicures, rose petal bubble baths and massages.

This year, the Year of the Tiger in China, has brought an interest in the dyeing trend — with tigers being the most-sought-after look. From golden retrievers to Pekingese, pets are not just being dyed basic colors but are being transformed to look like other animals, says Sun.

“Dyeing pets is popular in many developed countries like Japan and Korea, but China is quickly catching on,” said Sun, who recently participated in the first national pet dyeing competition in Beijing. She attributes the phenomenon to a “head-turning effect.”

“People already love to show off their pets and draw attention, so a panda-dog walking down the street is bound to turn heads.”

Dog owners say the attention their canines receive has improved their mental well-being. Kung Fu, a 10-month-old Old English sheepdog, can barely make it down the street without swarms gathering to admire his thick coat dyed to look like a panda, says owner Queenie Yang.

“Kung Fu loves the attention, and his self confidence has shot up since lots of pretty girls come up to pet him,” said Yang, a 31-year-old housewife from Beijing.

Yang’s husband decided to dye Kung Fu’s hair after seeing an advertisement from the spa and since Kung Fu’s features were already similar to that of a panda.

From the back, the 80-pound dog, with his black button tail and tan fur, could be mistaken for a panda — with fur around his eyes that have been dyed black to a create a droopy and almost comical expression.

He sits impatiently on a metal table in Ruowen’s spa, waiting for another bleach job of his gray hair, which is now a tan color. His front and hind leg sections have been dyed black, hair trimmed short and patches of hair on his head dyed black and fastened with elastics to look like panda ears.

One veterinarian warned that owners should be careful of damaging a dog’s mental and physical well-being before considering dyeing their pets.

“Owners should seek pet spas that use natural coloring which won’t damage the dog’s hair or irritate the skin,” said Tian Haiyan, who works at the Beijing Guanshang Animal hospital. “Mentally, some dogs that aren’t used to being in the spotlight so may react negatively to the sudden attention.”

While some critics say the new trend is inhumane as the dogs are sometimes forced to undergo hours of unnecessary dyeing, Sun says her products are all natural and it’s nothing more than an innocent dress-up session.

“It’s a confidence booster for dogs and owners,” said Sun. “We’re here to offer them new ways to pamper and dress up their pets.”



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Reality TV takes hold….

…complete with planted contestants. Second highlighted bit is hilarious.

What would SARFT make of Jerry Springer? (Click to view bigger)

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I’ve started riding a bike a lot in Beijing. The roads and cycle lanes are massive, everything is flat, and yes, I wear a helmet (yellow), shades (to stop the dust) and have flashing lights on at night. All this marks me out as some kind of weirdo “laowai’ (foreigner) bike freak – I have so far only seen one other guy adorned in such garb – and he looked like he was practicing for London 2012, as he zoomed past me through Tiananmen Square, tiny spandex arse high in the air, leaving a cloud of dust and a few overturned cabbage carts in his wake.

Once you’re on a straight line, such as the enormous Changan Avenue, with bicycle lanes that dwarf the M25, you’re fine. But, dare to turn left, or simply cross a busy intersection, and it gets much more thrilling. I strongly recommend a trip to the plastic surgeon to get another four pairs of eyes installed at various points around your head before taking this on. I am currently mid-inquiry into such an operation, as the surgeon weighs up the best positions for my new eye sockets, and we haggle over the cost of multiple colours- I’m holding out for 3 for the price of 2 – and night vision (very pricey).

“Things” come at you from literally every angle. It’s just like playing a sped up version of the old arcade game ‘Asteroids’. It’s very exciting to watch, and even more exciting to be a part of. A common technique to perfect is the last minute front wheel swerve, or wobble: You’re progressing smoothly across a large junction. Then at exactly the same moment, you spot the 3 wheel motorized rickshaw coming directly towards you at speed,  in the opposite direction, crazed horn a beeping manically like a strangled sheep in its death throes; and there to the left, standing unsteadily on his bike pedals, his loose wheel squeaking and leaning out to one side, is the man swerving around  with a mountain of plastic bottles so high on his trailer that he can neither stop, nor get going, complete with random unidentified stick pointing out 2 metres at a 45 degree angle. You’ve sussed them, planned your course, you’re OK. But wait. To your right, twirling like a dervish, a permed grandma steps off the kerb, clapping her hands and singing an ancient melody, doing her morning Tai Chi, as she strides like the old China hand she is, blindly and confidently into the furious maelstrom. Keep going, staring each of them in the eye for as long as possible (here’s where you need at least two extra pair of eyes), and (important) maintain your direction and speed. Only at the last minute, when you can feel the warmth of each other’s garlic breath, carried on the waft of air from granny’s clapping hands,  you and the other two bikes do the Time Honoured Simultaneous Front Wheel Shimmy. Grandma drops her shoulder, takes a nimble and strategic step, and you shut your eyes……

Via the 19th rule of Confucious, somehow, you all re-emerge having past each other unscathed, and proceed onwards in your original direction.

The exhilaration of writing the last paragraph has made me want to go and ride my bike. And I think I will attach a camera on the front and take a movie, to post at a later date.

A few weeks back, one of the larger asteroids in my path was Hilary Clinton’s mega cavalcade, with quite possibly twenty vehicles in it, as she sped to wherever she was speeding to try and persuade the Chinese to let go of their grip on the Yuan. The road was closed to all traffic except bicycles (why? I could have easily smuggled a rocket launcher in my rucksack). I gurned into the blackness of each of the tinted windows as they went past, wondering which car she was in. Did she see the grinning Westerner on his funny little fold up, his big white Nike trainers and his massive yellow helmet? I half expected a window to open, a waving hand to emerge, and the former first lady to lean out, shouting “hey, dude, where can I find the best pizza restaurant?” But then a few mini asteroids came my way (random man standing in the road for no apparent reason, limping dog and low hanging tree branch), and I was jolted back to the reality of trying to stay alive.

The cavalcade suddenly did one huge U turn (presumably having decided on the required pizza restaurant), and disappeared into a black hole, leaving all us mini asteroids trying not to be sucked along in its wake.


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