Raised for her meat, Harriet the dog didn’t seem to know how to be a canine. Even after her escape, the adorable pooch struggled to adjust. So when rescuers saw her finally settle into her cozy place, it brought tears to their eyes.
In January 2017 a team from the Humane Society International (HSI) was on a mission in South Korea. In the past two years, the animal welfare organization has been instrumental in the fight against the dog meat industry. Indeed, one of the society’s goals is to get the South Korean government to ban the trade.
On its latest expedition to the East Asian country, for instance, the organization visited Pyeongchang county. There, in Gangwon province, the country will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Therefore, HSI is urging the government to eradicate the dog meat industry before the games begin.
So, at the beginning of 2017, a team of rescuers arrived at a dog meat farm in the city of Wonju. On this occasion, the owner of the farm had approached the society. According to a statement on the HSI website, a family member had convinced the owner to find work elsewhere.
As is usual on dog meat farms, the canines, some 200 of them, lived in horrific conditions. “They did have shelter from the elements, but they didn’t have anything on the sides to keep out the wind and the snow,” Nash McCutchen, from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told The Dodo.
“They had no soft bedding. All crammed in there,” the marketing coordinator added. “They were basically living in their own filth. Food was thrown in to fatten them up.” But with HSI stepping in, the dogs would get a second chance.
Often, meat dogs are killed in particularly barbaric ways. In previous years, people would hang or beat the animals to death. However, the efficiency found in electrocuting the dogs has made it the more popular choice. “They’re tortured, and they aren’t always dead when they skin them,” McCutchen revealed to The Dodo. “It’s a terrible existence.”
Thankfully, the HSI saved the 200 dogs in Wonju from this terrible and painful fate. It then transported the rescued animals to shelters in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. In the United States, 14 of the lucky dogs found sanctuary at the Tampa Bay Humane Society.
Among those to end up in Florida was Harriet. Sadly, the time at the dog meat farm had clearly traumatized the little black dog. “When she first got here, [Harriet] was pretty despondent and aloof,” McCutchen explained to The Dodo. “She was interested in humans in that she would look at us, but she didn’t initiate any interaction, and she didn’t seem to want any interaction for the first several days.”
However, it didn’t take long for little Harriet to come out of her shell. Indeed, after just a week in the shelter she seemed more confident. And she even started exploring the front end of her kennel, something that many dogs find difficult at the shelter, according to McCutchen.
Nevertheless, Harriet still had a long way to go before making a full recovery. Since she’d been denied freedom for so long, Harriet didn’t even understand some basic things. “We had to carry her out, because she didn’t know how to walk on a leash,” McCutchen revealed.
To make matters worse, open spaces petrified the dog. Suffice to say, being cooped up in a farm had taken a toll. Whenever she was outside, Harriet seemed glued to one spot; she’d stand as still as a statue.
However, the staff at the shelter were keen to help Harriet in any way they could; they cared for her every need and worked tirelessly to socialize and reassure her. One day, the shelter’s volunteer manager, Leslie Menichino, invited Harriet into her office.
Menichino had laid out a bright pink and black stripy blanket for Harriet. However, the volunteer manager’s thoughtful gesture didn’t go as planned. Although the colorful blanket did catch the dog’s eye, she seemed reluctant to lie down.
It seemed Harriet didn’t know how to do the one thing that most dogs take for granted – lying down on a bed. “She just stood in the middle of the office on the blanket that I had laid down,” she revealed to The Dodo. “After a short while I saw her starting to doze off standing up. That is when I grabbed my phone and started filming.”
Menichino’s video showed Harriet standing just in front of the blanket. She swayed slightly as she fell asleep and eventually woke herself up when she lost her balance. The touching footage showed that the dog had no idea how to even relax on her own.
“We think that when she was on the farm, they were all so tightly packed in that they’d fall asleep standing up,” McCutchen explained to The Dodo. “The others would hold them up.” Therefore, Harriet had no concept of sleeping on a bed.
However, thanks to Menichino’s encouragement, curiosity got the better of Harriet. Soon, the pup settled down on her fluffy blanket. And she even managed to drift off to sleep for a while. The volunteer manager admitted the stirring scene brought tears to her eyes.
Since that first snooze, Harriet has made more progress. For instance, she’s finally confident enough to eat treats out of her handlers’ hands and has mastered walking on a leash. However, the pooch still has a ways to go before she’s ready for adoption.
Until then, Harriet will remain in the care of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. Since arriving there as a broken shadow of a dog, she is slowly learning how to live again. And when the time comes, there’s bound to be a big new bed for her at her perfect forever home.