Adopting a rescued animal can be a real life changer

When Zongzi, a Bedlington terrier, first arrived at Sherry Xiao's home in May 2017, he was confused by toys and didn't know how to play.

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This is a series about pet rescue and adoption in Shanghai, read inspiring stories on how adopters have changed the lives of the once lost and abandoned animals. 

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Sherry Xiao plays with her adopted pet dog Zongzi, a rescued Bedlington terrier.

When Zongzi, a Bedlington terrier, first arrived at Sherry Xiao’s home in May 2017, he was confused by toys and didn’t know how to play.

“I had a lot of toys waiting for him, but he was very much at sea because he’s never seen or had any in his life,” said Xiao, who adopted the terrier a few days before the Dragon Boat Festival, hence the name Zongzi, a kind of stuffed sticky rice dumpling that is traditionally eaten during the festival.

Zongzi was thrown out from a dog farm in Shanghai and was rescued by Guo Yidao, a volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Having lived a life in cages, Zongzi was severely malnourished.

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A photo of Zongzi, a Bedlington terrier, after being rescued from a dog farm in Shanghai

“The breeding farms only feed the dogs cheap food like corn mush or rice with soy sauce, and the dogs are thrown out or sold as meat when they can not reproduce. Some retired dogs were sent to us and we help them to get better and find owners,” Guo explained.

Most breeding dogs suffer various diseases. They can not walk properly and are often very shy — they’ve never been hugged and many suffer depression.

The vet could not tell Zongzi’s age from his teeth because of the damage caused by his diet. Dirty and skinny, Zongzi had skin diseases and low immunity when rescued.

He was treated and neutered, but when Guo was about to find him a permanent home, Zongzi had acute pancreatitis which led to another month of treatment.

“I was worried if a new owner wouldn’t feed Zongzi the diet he needed because it’s much more expensive, and this dog requires very careful care,” Guo recalled. “Then I met Xiao, a health management professional, at the adoption day event and I was very reassured that Zongzi would be in good hands.”

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A recent photo of Zongzi

Arriving at Xiao’s home, besides not feeling well Zongzi was very quiet and timid. His appearance and health then changed dramatically — Xiao spent a lot of time reading books and learning how to raise dogs.

“There are a lot of things Zongzi can not eat. The pancreatitis relapses easily if he eats something wrong,” Xiao said.

Zongzi’s former name at the shelter was Beibei. It wasn’t easy for Xiao to change it.

“In the first month, no matter how hard I tried, he never responded to the new name,” she said. “Occasionally he answered to Beibei, and I almost gave up. But one day, he suddenly responded to the new name.

“I live alone and having a dog is a wonderful experience. I think he changed me more than I changed him. I just provide him with space, but he brought me lots of joy. No matter how tired I feel after work, seeing Zongzi when I get home takes it all away.”

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