The market had nothing but furry, caged lies. What was supposed to be a wonderful, bonding experience, ended up in tears.
This isn’t what she had asked for or bought for that matter. What made it worse is that the police looked at her like she was an idiot. What was she supposed to do now?
For Janice, living abroad was a unique mixture of good and bad experiences to connect with her Asian heritage.
Her current stint as an English teacher in Shanxi province, China, was unlike any other job she had held down before. The mixture of new cultures and cheap living would keep her there for a couple years. But there was one important thing missing.
Her New England roots called to her in many ways. Growing up in the countryside, she had always been around pets.
So, now, her one-bedroom apartment felt so small and lonely. She hated it. The solution? It was time to get a dog. But she had also heard some terrible horror stories about pet markets.
Sick animals pumped up with antibiotics, factory-like breeding, and horrific cage conditions were just the tip of the iceberg.
But when she walked into the actual “pet market”, she felt like she would throw up. There was no describing the sights and smells. There was no question on what she had to do next.
Yes, she might be surrounded by ragged animals, but that’s what tugged at her heart the most.
She wanted a dog, and this was her chance to actually rescue one. There, out of the corner of her eye, she saw a moving lump of white fur. She looked closer and couldn’t believe her eyes.
It was a batch of white puppies. Their unique appearance immediately called to her.
After a quick, excited search on her phone, she found the closest breed was a Japanese Spitz. These were rare indeed! The price tag was a mere two hundred dollars. Now it was time to scam the scammer!
She internally grinned as she handed over the cash to the oblivious seller and scooped up one of the pups.
The next few weeks and months unfolded exactly how she imagined. It was glorious. Her beautiful snowball was perfect. But then she noticed something odd. It would be the start of a hard lesson.
“Elsa” the pup grew quickly. Her long, slender body was covered in thick fur. But Janice noticed she never barked … ever.
She was the quietest dog she had ever been around. The little girl was also a very picky eater. Then, one day, she refused to eat anything Janice put down.
Maybe she had a stomach infection? Maybe growing up in those terrible market conditions had damaged her throat.
There was no getting around it now – she had to take Elsa to the vet and find out once and for all what was going on. The news would be shocking.
The expensive visit immediately started with a very confused vet tech. His brow furrowed through the entire examination.
He even called in his boss. They spoke back and forth in quick Chinese, with Janice barely understanding a word. But it was the blood work and DNA that would give her the truth to Elsa’s odd behavior.
She held the paper in her hand, trying to read the complicated Chinese character text.
But when the vet pulled out his phone and translated, Janice’s jaw dropped. She looked between the paper and her pet in utter disbelief. It wasn’t a Japanese Spitz. She had been raising a fox.
Her heart sank as she finally understood the strange behavior – or in Elsa’s case … her completely natural behavior.
Janice thought she had scammed the pet scammer. But she was the one that had really been duped. There was only one thing she could do, and it would be so painful.
A tiny urban apartment was no place for a wild animal. Aside from notifying the cops to the situation, there was zero way she would hand Elsa over to any old zoo.
It was months of careful interviews and plenty of research. In the end, she decided on one large organization that treated their animals fairly well. But there was one condition they promised to honor … that they immediately broke.
Janice felt her heart shatter as she looked through the wire fence where Elsa was now playing with other foxes.
The plaque that showed the pack’s info now included the new anonymous donation of “Mei Mei” which meant little sister. They had changed her name. Her little white puff ball looked up at her.
Janice wasn’t sure if there was recognition there or if her past pet was just looking around at the gaping crowd.
But as the little girl jump and ran about, Janice slowly made peace with the situation. She looked very happy, and that’s all she could ask for.