Luna’s skin was getting better each day. Her skin was much calmer but her hair was growing back in weird tufts and her eyebrows seemed to be growing faster than anything else.
I had already spent a considerable amount of money at the vet. To start with Luna needed to be spayed, at two months old Molly was still too young. Both dogs had been vaccinated and had tests.
In Korea there are many diseases dogs can get, many of which our modern cleaning and vaccinations have almost eradicated in the UK. In Korea one of the biggest worries for grown dogs is Heart Worms. This nasty disease starts with an infected mosquito bite. The larvae enter the dogs system and start to grow. They take up residence in the heart and just multiply. When given regular medicine the larvae are killed easily, but once they get a hold eradicating them from the body is a dangerous process and can take months. Even then, the sickest dogs are unlikely to make it.
I was lucky though, both Luna and Molly were mostly disease free, Luna tested positive for Lyme Disease, usually passed through deer ticks. The hope was that with medicine and good food she would recover and it would be out of her system in a month or two.
The vet had several theories about Luna’s skin. He took skin samples and decided that Luna probably had allergies. They gave me some special shampoo to bathe her in and told me to change her food.
The trick was going to be figuring out what she was allergic to.
On the weekends we would set out on adventures. Daegu, like many cities in Korea is surrounded by mountains. It is also at the centre of two major rivers. With several National Parks and Wetlands within easy distance there was much exploring to be done.
My friend Jess* and I used to set off in the car for the day. We would stop at filling stations and corner shops and stock up on strange Korean drinks and snacks. Our guide was the only English road map I could find in the bookshop. It was marked sporadically in English, Chinese or Korean and while the roads marked usually existed, it seemed like sometimes they had planned a new road, put it on the map, and then never bothered to build it.
The dogs would sit in the back of the car, mostly sleeping and then get up when we reached anywhere and get out for a sniff and investigate. After months in the shelter neither of them were particularly healthy. They tired out easily and although you could tell they enjoyed being outside they didn’t run around much. They were much more interested in watching the view and enjoying the sniffs.
We had a quiet first month. Molly needed a little house training but she seemed to pick it up from Luna and in general they were both very well behaved. I set up my camera for the first few weeks in the kitchen when I went out. Luna usually watched me leave and then got her bed just how she liked it and settled down to sleep. Molly was a bit more restless and would pace for a while after I left, but it wouldn’t take her long before she took a long look at Luna, had a big sigh and curled up and went to sleep.
Molly quickly learned new tricks. For a little food she would sit and jump up and lie down and we had started work on roll over. Luna on the other hand just didn’t see the point. She could sit, once I had figured out the right hand signal and asked my students what the Korean word for ‘sit’ was, it was easy. And for the right treat she would do it every time. But anything more challenging and she just didn’t see the point.
We spent a day learning to lie down. Molly was really into it. Up and down like a yo-yo. Luna figured it out after maybe 20 goes. Although it’s harder to teach dogs to lie down when they are so much closer to the ground than the Border Collies I grew up with! But she knew what I wanted. She would lie down just enough to get the treat and then sit back up. It didn’t take her long to get bored though. She got to the point when you could say whatever you like, but if she was fed up of playing she would just look at you, with that trademark disdain. Why? What’s the point?
*Most names changed for privacy.