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September 6, 2009

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Smart rural dog saved to new home

WITH expressive ears, a slender body and a light yellow short coat, Bai Bai, a four-and a-half-year-old Chinese rural dog, has a common look but an unusual story.

Before Bai Bai was saved by the SSAPA and then introduced to his new owner, Frenchman Benjamin Grand, no one knows how long he had strayed on Shanghai's streets.

Despite his plain but cute looks, one of his remarkable characteristics is his smartness and he got his name Bai Bai as a result of it. He can bow with his paws folded in front, a move called baibai in Chinese.

When I was introduced to Bai Bai and his new owner Ben, a post-1980s generation worker in Shanghai for over two years, he had already settled for two months into a happy life in a cozy home.

At first, Bai Bai was cautions to me, a stranger in his house, but we soon became friends and he put his head in my hand during my talk with Ben.

The Frenchman and his girlfriend, a Shanghainese, are fans of raising dogs. Paganus, an 18-month-old brown Poodle, who always considered himself the "master" of the house, was their first dog in Shanghai, purchased from a pet market near People's Square.

"At the time I just wanted another dog to accompany Paganus when we are not at home," Ben said. "I saw the adoption information on a French Website, and then I just went there.

"At first, I wanted to adopt a small dog that would be very easy to get along with, but when I saw Bai Bai my immediate feeling was 'that's him.'

"I didn't know why I had the feeling. It certainly wasn't because he could baibai, it was an instinct," he said.

Ben has a very quiet demeanor but his love for the two animals is apparent in his eyes. He has no harsh words for either Paganus or Bai Bai, even through Paganus jumps between the bed and the sofa welcoming strangers and begging for dog treats with loud barks.

In contrast, Bai Bai is very quiet and sits to the side. He won't venture over to you without a sign of encouragement. He is very gentle, almost wary of contact as if he has had bad experiences in the past from misbehaving.

"Bai Bai seemed to understand quite well the environment he was entering when he first came home with me. He was very cautions with everything and every move which made me think someone had beaten him.

"But now, his condition is better and Bai Bai has recovered very well," Ben said, while encouraging him to come and sit beside him.

Ben ordered the dog to perform his signature baibai for my benefit. As soon as Ben brought out the two little dogs, everyday treat, a sausage, they seemed like recharged batteries, jumping up and down, especially Paganus.

"Baibai, baibai!" As soon as Ben gave the order, the dog stood on his two hind legs and waved his paws up and down, like saying: "give me, give me, I am a good dog." Lovely.

Ben enjoys a normal and healthy life with his pets just like other people: a walk with Bai Bai and Paganus twice a day, taking them to the pet shop for a weekly bath.

But for Bai Bai, who appears to have suffered a lot, he is safe in a dream home. "I am considering changing to a bigger apartment, so the two babies will have a larger space to play," Ben said.


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