“She hugs it and she takes it everywhere she goes."

The dog had lived at a garbage dump for a year and a half.

She’d survived by eating scraps of discarded food and by licking muddy puddles to get a little bit of water. But the dog, a Korean Jindo named Danpoong, never had a completely full belly.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

And when Danpoong wanted to rest, she didn’t have anything comfortable to sleep on.

The man who managed the dump in Ilsan, South Korea, kept Danpoong, as well as two other dogs, to guard his property. But he didn’t treat her as a pet. In fact, there was a good chance Danpoong and the other dogs would eventually be killed for their meat, Ek Park, founder of Free Korean Dogs, an organization that rescues dogs and cats from the meat trade in South Korea, told The Dodo.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“I was told that the garbage collector always has dogs,” Park said. “Some were sold to a dog meat seller, some he kept to breed, some he kills himself to eat. It’s a pretty common thing that you see in rural areas.”

A colleague of Park’s, a woman named Jinoak, had been keeping her eye on Danpoong and the other dogs. When Jinoak finally tried to rescue the dogs, the garbage collector reluctantly agreed to give her Danpoong, and only because she was sick with what turned out to be heartworm disease.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“She lost weight and she was very sick,” Park said. “They don’t want to eat sick dog, right? So she was able to convince them to surrender her [Danpoong].”

Once Danpoong was saved from the garbage dump, Park hoped to fly her to North America and find her a home. But first Danpoong needed to be well enough to fly, so she spent six months with Ms. Jung, a woman who has opened up her home to hundreds of rescue dogs in South Korea and helped them find homes around the world.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

Then, in March, Park finally traveled to North America with Danpoong in tow. Danpoong went into a foster home in Toronto, Canada.

The foster carer initially wanted to adopt Danpoong, but changed her mind when Danpoong didn’t get along with her boyfriend.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“Danpoong got really protective around her [the foster mom],” Park said. “So she said ‘Ek, I can’t adopt her because we’re constantly having a problem.’”

Park agreed to take Danpoong back, but right before she did, the unimaginable happened — Danpoong escaped.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“I was dying,” Park said. “I was so scared. I couldn’t believe it — after the entire rescue and the vet treatments — we’d put so much time and money into her.”

Thankfully, Park found Danpoong two days later sitting in front of a nearby apartment complex.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“I was very nervous that she’d run away when she saw me, but I just approached her gently and cautiously, and called her name,” Park said. “At first she was suspicious, like ‘Who are you?’ And then she remembered me and came directly to me and started licking my face. You could tell that she was so, so happy to see me.”

After the first home didn’t work out, Park put a lot of energy into finding just the right family for Danpoong. As luck would have it, she found the perfect man to adopt her — Vincent Choi, who’d been looking to adopt a Jindo for quite some time.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“He actually took a month vacation for this,” Park said. “He has a very tiny townhouse in Toronto, but he bought everything — three different beds, beautiful toys. He said, ‘I’m going to dedicate one month to make sure that she’s happy and to show her that I’m always here for her.’”

Choi, who works as a flight attendant, told The Dodo that taking a month off from work to help Danpoong (now named Parker) settle in has been worth it.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“I wanted to make sure that she’s OK and that she gets to know me, and not be so scared,” Choi said.

But Parker was still a bit skittish around Choi, especially whenever she saw her leash.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“The moment I wanted to take her for a walk, she’d get scared,” Choi said. “If I ever touched the leash, she’d just run away.”

With time and patience, Parker eventually got used to the leash, and started to enjoy going for walks. And she’s also made herself comfortable in Choi’s home.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“She’s taking over the whole place,” Choi said. “She knows where her bed is, and she likes to go to places where she can see everything — so the bottom of the stairs or the top of the stairs so that she has full view of where everyone is. She follows me around everywhere I go now. She goes wherever she wants.”

And for days when Parker needs a little extra comfort, Choi has given Parker two special gifts. One was a toy giraffe, which Parker absolutely adores.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“She hugs it and she takes it everywhere she goes,” Choi said.

Choi’s second gift to Parker was a very special blanket.


Credit:
Free Korean Dogs

“It’s a blanket my mother knitted for me, and I’ve carried with me for almost 40 years,” Choi said. “Now I’m giving it to her.”

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