To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh - The Dogs Ears

DOGS - you either love them or hate them

In Hanzhong a city in central China, the authorities hate them - This May they organised dog beating teams similar to Canadian Seal Clubbers to cull 37000 dogs in response to 13 rabies deaths.

Meanwhile in Guangzhou the authorities went a different way and applied a variant of the one family one child policy ... by introducing a one family one dog policy. By July 1 families with more than 1 dog had to decide which one got the chop, literally. Bear in mind that law abiding citizens would have previously registered their dogs so owners who didn't turn in #2 pooch at the assembly points for transport to the liquidation centre, could expect a midnight knock at the door from the dogmen... Can you hear the cries of "Honest Officer ...he ran away ..." or tearfully "He died suddenly... last week...". It goes without saying that Unregisted dogs are fugitives subject to summmary siezure and execution !! Interesting Shanghai is moving towards a 2 child per family policy . I am not sure about its official doggy position, but it probably involves sore knees.

Of course in HK no one eats dogs (it's a criminal offence) unlike the mainland where dog meat may be on the menu (to my knowledge in at least 1 Korean restaurant in Shenzhen) and is on sale in supermarkets (after all 37000 dogs is a lot of meat) Mind you it is said that many of the dogs seen on leads in Hong kong are not called the cantonese equivalent of "Spot" or "Fido but are frequently called "lunch" or "dinner" instead ...... just like sheep in Wales are called "Mint Sauce" (I wonder if it goes with dog??).

HK is actually quite shizophrenic about dogs: The local (Southern District) council have just set aside an area on the Aberdeen Praya for dogs (and their owners). They can stand inside the wooden fence and look out at rest of us - throwing and retrieving ball, frisby or stick is not really on, unless of course you are on the outside throwing in.

Having said that in most estates (like ours) people are not supposed to keep dogs.By implication any of the dogs being walked on the promenade in South horizons are visitors from other parts of Hong Kong and similarly anyone who buys dog food in estate supermarket (and there is a lot of shelf space devoted to it ) is either a visitor or very partial to PAL.

The reality is that there are lots of dogs living here and the security teams turn a blind eye to local Bag Ladies; Bag Ladies in this context are Tai Tais who own (small) dogs and very large (typically designer knock off) bags. You see them majestically scooping up their pooches after daily walkies by the sea and stuffing them into their cavenous sacs prior to brazenly walking past security .Personally I wouldn't like to challenge a HK Tai Tai with a dog !! The important thing to remember is that these dogs have therapeutic value as anti depressives - You don't hear of anyone jumping off a building with a dog (children yes - dogs no).

But not every one in HK likes dogs. For the last 20 years an infamous serial killer has stalked the Bowen Road Area on HK island rather like Jack the ripper haunted Whitechapel. He has so far eluded capture and struck fear into the doggy fraternity. The scenic views and rambles make Bowen Road extremely popular with dog walkers, particularly among Hong Kong's expatriate community. Since 1989, over 100 dogs have been murdered. Tthe SPCA estimate there have been 200 attempts. The police normally on the ball took about 5 years before they realised that there was mass murderer at large.

The last British governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, also fell victim. Well not actually him - athough he was disparagingly refered to by the Chinese as a dog at one point during the handover negotiations, but his Norfolk terrier Whisky who was made seriously ill by eating baited chicken.

Speculation has centered around the fact that many Chinese graves are accessible from Bowen Road, and previous dog owners may have left their charges off leads, permitting them to defecate on old graves on sacred ground. Whatever the true motive, the killings have followed patterns with the killer leaving cooked chicken, covered in a commonly available - but very powerful - insecticide.

Local SPCA officials have advised Hong Kong residents to never allow their pets off a lead at any time in the area, and to always be cautious about letting their dogs sniff or eat in the area. There is a reward currently standing at HK $160,000 for evidence leading to an arrest. In january this year it was reportedthat a cat had been found poisoned in the area.

The question is:

One of life's imponderables rather like the definition of a chinese "doggy bag". Is it for instance Your answers on a postcard to Shanghai Dog Bureau...


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