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Questions from a potential dog owner

Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby StiffUpperLip » 29 Sep 2014, 14:32

My (Taiwanese) wife has become deeply interested in getting a dog (landlord depending) and she's been checking out animal shelters online and the like. I, however, have concerns, despite coming from a family that had a lot of dogs, an experience I didn't greatly enjoy for reasons that will soon become clear (I do, however, like dogs. It's just the other stuff that comes with them that's the problem).

1: This is more a question aimed at people who, like me, suffer from allergies. I have allergy issues (which, yes, were severely exacerbated by being surrounded by dogs when young). I've had eczema since I was very small. I'm afraid a dog might trigger reactions. I've had a blood test to try and identify the triggers, and it's about 90% dust mites and 10% cow's milk. There might be other triggers, but it can be hard to tell (according to my doctor). When I was a kid, I was given lots of cow's milk and lived in a very, very, very dusty house, so it can be hard to separate one potential allergen from another.

My question: if anyone like me has eczema (or asthma, which is closely related) do you feel okay about prolonged exposure to dogs? Is it a problem for you? If you have a reaction, is it immediate, or does it take prolonged exposure to develop symptoms?

2: Related question. Are there breeds that are less likely to cause potential allergic reactions?

3: Pet insurance. Is it true there isn't any available in Taiwan? I remember working with people back in the UK who'd come into work and relate how much money they'd spent keeping their dog/cat/gila lizard alive because it needed a series of expensive medications and/or operations to keep it alive. More money, in some cases, than they were actually making. I don't want to be that person, and I would definitely feel driven to keep a pet alive at all costs if it were ill. How expensive are vets in this country if insurance isn't available?

4: Moving house. At some point in the future we might well return to the UK. How easy/hard is it to move house with a pet? How expensive?

5: How do you cope with the certain knowledge a large part of your life is going to be spent following it around parks and picking up its shit? Because I see people doing that and I know it's necessary, but...ech.

6: What's a good place to find a dog? I'm talking shelters here.

7: I keep hearing how the Taiwanese are friendly wonderful people, and often they are, and then I see the huge number of stray or abandoned dogs and it infuriates me. What's up with that?

8: How safe is it keeping a dog in a high-rise building? I live on the seventh floor, and there's no bars surrounding our balcony, and my overactive imagination leads to visions of horror. But then I'm pretty highly-strung anyway.

Note: I know this post might sound negative about dogs, but the truth is I do actually really like them...which is in fact one of the reasons I haven't had one since I was in my early teens: I know the level of responsibility you have, or should have, towards a pet. It's that knowledge - and the fact their lifespan is so short, not even mentioning potential allergy issues - that's kept me away.
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby Andrew0409 » 29 Sep 2014, 14:38

4. It's pretty expensive to move with a dog. Unless you are getting a tiny dog that you can possibly travel with in person, you most likely will have to go through a 3rd party that specialize in shipping dogs like I had to do.
7. Theres really not that many strays here compared to years ago. I know that in Taipei city, there used to be alot of strays running around but the city started picking them up and putting them down. So if you do get a dog, make sure he has a collar on at all times or else it may get picked up.
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby Icon » 29 Sep 2014, 15:05

1 and 2: Dogs like Maltese, that have hair instead of two layers of fur, are less likely to trigger allergic reactions. Or get a Chihuahua or a poodle.

3. Nope. I have heard there is one company offering but most owners do play it by ear. Vet care is expensive compared by local standards, but not obscenely expensive like in some parts of the West. Average visit might be 350 TWD, depending of course of what is done.

I had one of my dogs in "expensive" Chinese medicine treatment. About 1000nts a month.

That said, hospital stays can be pretty expensive. But I always choose 24/7 best care for my beloved companions. Hence, their hospital stays have ended more expensive than mine...

4. Expensive a bit, paperwork not that complicated.

5. See it as practice for when you have kids. It is also a great way to socialize, make friends with fellow animal lovers and or pick fights with people who dislike animals.

6. Animals Taiwan, MeetPets, The Sanctuary... most shelters. Volunteers.

They just rescued a huge batch of puppy mill toy breeds that suit your life. And I know of a couple volunteers that have pet breeds in foster care.

7. It's complicated but mostly time constraints, impulse buying, lack of responsibility, deficient application of pet ownership laws, etc. That is why shelters are full of very expensive dogs.

8. I'd safeproof the balcony, the building. I am a nervous owner too and nearly broke my neck stopping my dog from a one floor fall. So nope nope, get extra protection. But that is Auntie Peng, an overprotective pet mom.
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby StiffUpperLip » 18 Nov 2014, 00:26

We had the dog, but had to hand it back after a week due to some problems. Most heartbreaking thing I've had to do in years. In just a week, I'd become hugely attached to the little fella. I have concerns those problems might be insurmountable, but I'm willing to consider options.

1: He's not very house trained, and although we had some success in getting him to go outside, it was proving a drain on my energy and time having to go all the way from the seventh floor of my apartment building to the ground floor and then to the nearest park four, five times a day to avoid him pissing on things. I see on Amazon there's various trays, some designed to look like grass, you can get that a dog can go on indoors (as it turns out, the previous owners/rescuers had him running around their apartment in a nappy!). Are those any good?

2: The allergy problem is turning out to be a biggie. Is it possible to get allergy shots in Taipei, and are they a/expensive and b/effective?

3: He also barks like crazy if we leave him alone in the house for five minutes, and one time he peed on the bed when we left him alone for a couple of hours. I've encountered various explanations for this, all the way from: it's a fear reaction related to his owner's smell, to: he's taking revenge for leaving you alone, to: he thinks he's the alpha dog and he's putting you in your place.

4: We've had cage training suggested to us (teaching him to live in a cage when we're not there and gradually getting him used to it for when we're out), but the previous owners advised us he goes crazy if you leave him alone in a cage as well. Are there any people in Taipei who specialise in dog (and owner) training?

Honestly, the more I think about it, the harder it seems, with the allergy being just the icing on the cake. But I was surprised how much it broke me up to have him back and there's still the potential for having him back. But I don't want to do that unless I think there's a way to deal with all the stuff we had to deal with during just the short week we had him. Any thoughts or ideas?
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby Mucha Man » 18 Nov 2014, 00:47

The allergies are a tough one but I have allergies to my cats and just live with it. Air filters help, frequent washing and grooming, and airing out the apartment.

As for the peeing and stuff, yeah dogs do that. They chew things up, they pee on your stuff, the vomit, etc. It takes time to socialize and train them. Not like cats which go to the litter box soon as you show them.

A few months training a dog is a small price for a companion for 15 years.
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby Hokwongwei » 18 Nov 2014, 10:38

There are some good responses, particularly from Icon (who is awesome for taking good care of responses), but here's my input as a cat owner and someone who has thought more than once about getting a dog. My house growing up never had fewer than 3 dogs and 1 cat at any time, all of them rescues.

StiffUpperLip wrote:1: eczema and asthma


I have asthma, and my wife (who hasn't moved in with me yet) has eczema, both of which are exacerbated by my two cats. Taking proper care of their fur and vaccuuming/using 3M fur-collecting tape helps immensely.

2: Related question. Are there breeds that are less likely to cause potential allergic reactions?


Poodles are very loving, though if you're a big dog person like me, their yapping and coquettish behavior is a little unappealing. They're really smart, though. The wife's family has one and try as I might, I just can't hate him. :)

3: Pet insurance.


The vet is pretty cheap. I suppose if your pet comes down with a chronic illness treating it would be expensive. But loving pets like children is a relatively new phenomenon in Taiwan (past decade or so, I would say), and I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes more common in the future as . No guarantees, though.

4: Moving house. At some point in the future we might well return to the UK. How easy/hard is it to move house with a pet? How expensive?


I don't know about the UK. I have a friend who got married and moved to the US and had to take her cats with. (They're part of the family, of course.) She said it wasn't too much of a hassle because they have their shots and everything in order. They were probably scared to death on the plane, though. I may move home at some point in the relatively near future, and my plan is to call an airline to ask about regulations because I assume they're on top of that.

5: How do you cope with the certain knowledge a large part of your life is going to be spent following it around parks and picking up its shit?


It's the same way with babies, isn't it? When you're playing with someone else's kid, he or she is cute and cuddly until a sudden vomit explosion or diaper emergency occurs, and then you hand the kid to his or her parent to deal with the unpleasant under-the-hood aspect of it all. But when it's your own flesh and blood (or, uh, fur) you just do what needs to be done without thinking too much about it.

That being said, many dogs can be trained to do their business indoors, which is pretty necessary because of Taiwan's unpredictable weather. My wife's family's poodle goes on a newspaper, which can be easily tossed into the trash when done.

7: I keep hearing how the Taiwanese are friendly wonderful people, and often they are, and then I see the huge number of stray or abandoned dogs and it infuriates me. What's up with that?


Feral dogs and stray dogs are two different things. Taiwan has tons of the former, which tend to be Formosan mountain dogs or their mixes, but you very rarely see a poodle or dachshund wandering the streets without a home. While all those xiao hei and xiao huang would make great pets, people see them the same way you see feral cats or even squirrels.

8: How safe is it keeping a dog in a high-rise building?


I like kids, but let's face it -- toddlers can sometimes be dumber than dogs. People raise kids in high-rises (after child-proofing, of course), and if they can do it with fleshy bipedals, you can certainly do it with a furry quadriped.

I know the level of responsibility you have, or should have, towards a pet.


It's important that you recognize this, but that's exactly the reason why you should adopt. So many people treat fancy designer dogs as fashion accessories. Wouldn't it be nice for you, someone who realizes a dog is a family member and not a toy, to rescue a life that nobody else wants? Your hestitation is precisely what makes me think you would be a good pet owner. Good luck!
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby StiffUpperLip » 18 Nov 2014, 23:21

Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm still more than a little concerned about allergies, because in my case it tends to be pretty severe. I'd be interested to know if any of you have suffered 'allergy fatigue' with pets around. I noticed that I grew increasingly sluggish and unable to focus, and did some googling, and found allergy fatigue is apparently A Thing. I work from home, so that's kind of a major potential issue for me. If anyone knows of allergy treatments available in Taiwan, I'd be interested to hear. We might ask at a local vet in case they happen to know about such things, since I'd assume they've had people come in with their pets who are also allergic to them.

I know I make it sound like a hopeless situation, and maybe it is. But the place feels awfully empty without him around.
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Re: Questions from a potential dog owner

Postby Icon » 20 Nov 2014, 11:25

The problem here is more the air rather than the pet itself. A pet with hair rather than fur -ie, Maltese or poodle- would be advisable, since the problem with allergic reactions is not the fur but the dander.

And of course, since you work from home, dehumidifier and air purifier 24/7, more because you are in Taiwan, not because you have a pet. I find just keeping the air purifier on -a small Honeywell- helps me being comfortable and no sneezing/tiredness.

Good thing about doggies is they love walking. It will help your health too to get out in the mountains, or the park, anywhere green, and stroll vigorously after a bouncing ball of fur.
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None of us are getting out of here alive, so please stop treating yourself like an after thought. Eat the delicious food. Walk in the sunshine. Jump in the ocean. Say the truth that you’re carrying in your heart like hidden treasure. Be silly. Be kind. Be weird. There’s no time for anything else.
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