Ron took Ah-Gou to the vet this morning; while he was there, he found out that Ah-Gou was a missing dog and that his owner had put out a notice to all vets in the neighborhood. The two of them reunited very quickly afterward. I was out doing an interview, so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to say a proper good-bye to Ah-Gou or take a picture of his cleaned-up little face. On the other hand, I’m very glad Ah-Gou is back with his family. They live in the neighborhood, so hopefully we’ll bump into him again.

As it turns out, Ah-Gou is a senior citizen — 16 years old! And he has vestibular disease, which meant he kept walking around in circles. The owner called Ron to thank him and told him a bit about how she’d lost her dog. Basically, she’d taken Ah-Gou for a walk and he’d disappeared when they were hanging out in a park (most dogs I see scampering around parks are off their leashes). The vet told me that he thinks Ah-Gou might have been dognapped. I don’t think that is far-fetched at all. I bet someone saw Ah-Gou, assumed (as I did) that he is a puppy and snatched him, thinking “woo-hoo, free Maltese!” Then they freaked out when Ah-Gou’s treatment for his vestibular disease wore off and he started running around in circles.

I might be wrong, but I really don’t think there was any other reason to tape Ah-Gou into a cardboard box and dump him in a park early in the morning on a rainy day unless he’d been grabbed. There are several safer and far less traumatizing places to leave a dog in our neighborhood, including a couple of vets. As it turns out, the reason he was so dirty when Ron found him was because he’d been stuck in that box for a while and was basically caked in canned food and his own filth. His being panicked and trying to get out just made the situation worse, of course. It really makes me sad to think of what might have happened if we hadn’t taken him home. My first sight of him so heartbreaking — Ah-Gou was basically sitting with his head tucked into the corner, trembling. I’m not saying that Ron and I are saints… the only reason we were able to take care of Ah-Gou is that I happen to work from home.

I’m happy for Ah-Gou and his owner, but I do miss him. I had an entire fantasy life constructed around being able adopt him. Basically, I planned to name him Lord Peter Wimsey (or 彼得, Bǐ​dé​, in Chinese), take him to the groomers and ask them to put a big, fluffy pink bow in his hair. I was going to cook a healthy organic dinner for him every night and joke on Facebook about how my dog eats better than me. On Halloween, I planned to dress him up as a shark and strut him up and down the street while all passersby cooed, “好可愛的鯊魚喔!” (“What a cute shark!”); for everyday, Lord Peter would have worn beautiful sweaters knit from my collection of Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino. We would have gone on walks three times a day (7AM, 1PM, 8PM), enjoying the beauty of nature together. After a couple years, I planned to write a bestselling book called “Formosa, For Peter: How an Abandoned Pup Saved my Life and Improved my Mandarin.” When Ron and I had a baby, Lord Peter was going save our kid’s life by killing a rat in the nursery. I was going to buy him a miniature tiara and made sure he got a giant write-up and photograph in Apple Daily about his bravery.

Of course, I also realized that I’d have to make major lifestyle changes, especially if we had to pay Lord Peter’s vet bills. I’d already made a mental checklist of stuff I was going to sell to raise funds (my Blythes’ clothes and Re-ment miniatures, my lovingly curated collection of Japanese zakka magazines, my one Coach handbag) and plans for an Etsy shop with handmade jewelry, knitted wristlets and prints of portraits I was going to take of Lord Peter in his shark outfit.

My point is, there is an Ah-Gou/Lord Peter/彼得-shaped hole in my heart now. It’s amazing how attached you can get to a dog after just one day — especially a dog that is basically the perfect companion dog. Sniff. But I’m so glad he’s back with his family. Also, I’m very, very glad I don’t have to make the speech I was rehearsing to my landlords (“He’s quiet! He’s old! All he does is sleep all day! Seriously, keeping him would be like keeping fish in an aquarium!”) The whole contraband dog thing was very stressful. In order to walk him, Ron had to wait until after midnight and sneak Ah-Gou out in a canvas tote bag.

Anyway, if you find a lost dog, please visit one or two neighborhood vets and see if there have been any notices put out for her. Then call Animals Taiwan for advice on what to do. They are staffed by a mix of Taiwanese people and foreigners, so you’ll be able to find help in Mandarin, Hoklo and English. They can’t take all abandoned dogs, but they can refer you to a vet and help you find a new home for the pup.

And just in case you are curious about Ah-Gou, here is his picture from yesterday. He looked so much cuter after we washed him, but I think he’s still cute here. I made him an improvised dog bed and he seemed happy nesting in there, sticking his head up every once in a while, snuggling in a corner while I petted him and panting happily. Like I said, the perfect dog.