When young Yang Jiali came across her pet dog pawing away under a bush, at first she didn’t think much about it. But, as she looked on, she could see that the dog was overwrought and digging in a frenzied manner. By now she was beginning to grow alarmed, but nothing compared to how she would feel in just a few short minutes.
Yang lives in Wutan on the fringes of Chongqing – a major conurbation in southwest China – with her pet dog. Like most pooches, her canine loves nothing more than having the run of the place; sniffing out all the exciting places to explore his local area.
Luckily for him, it is mostly countryside around Yang’s home, Wutan being fairly rural. As a result, there is plenty of space, and lots of interesting smells for a dog to investigate. And he can go digging whenever the urge takes him.
Sometimes, Yang would just open her door and let her dog out into the wilderness. However, one day when she did this the animal positively bolted out of her home. And, because she hadn’t owned him very long, his actions surprised and worried her.
As a result, she decided to follow him to a nearby area of thick woodland. She searched quickly through the trees until she found the dog in a small clearing. And it seemed like he had smelt something in the soil.
Yang looked on concerned as her nervous dog began to paw away at the soil. She could see he was frantic as he began to dig a hole beneath a bush. However, nothing could prepare her for what the dog was about to unearth.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, more often than not dogs dig to find food. Most breeds have the ability to hunt and kill small, soil-dwelling creatures, such as moles, in this fashion. However, what Yang’s dog had sniffed out this time was much more disturbing.
After a short while excavating, the dog exposed a piece of white fabric in the ground. But, as Yang edged closer, she could see that the cloth was enveloping something else. As she peered down the hole, she was horrified to discover that it was in fact a baby.
As the shocked Yang continued to observe the unfolding situation, the baby burst into tears. Thankfully the little bundle was still breathing – just. So, with no time to lose, the distraught dog owner rushed the abandoned baby to the nearest emergency room.
When the infant arrived at Wutan’s health clinic, he was not in a good way. “The baby looked pale,” assistant doctor An Yue revealed in a statement obtained by British newspaper The Telegraph. “His breathing and heart rate were slow. He had low body temperature, and his whole mouth was full of mud.”
After a full check-up, doctors determined the baby boy was about one month old. In the circumstances, they considered it a miracle that he had survived his harrowing ordeal. However, health professionals were confident a full recovery was on the cards for the infant, despite the odds.
But, regardless of the positive outlook, the fact that the little one was abandoned in the first place and in such a callous fashion was a bitter pill to swallow. However, medical staff knew enough to theorize as to why the baby had been buried in the woods.
It was believed that the baby may have suffered from a serious disease or illness. Consequently, his health could have deteriorated so much that his parents thought he had actually died. This was perhaps why they travelled into the woods to bury their child.
Sadly, this theory is not so far-fetched. This is not the first time a baby has been found buried alive in China. In rural parts of the country, the private burial of infants is a common practice. However, parents have sometimes believed their child to be deceased when they were anything but.
However, while mistaken burials do happen in China, other parents are pushed to extreme measures when they find they cannot afford to care for their babies. This is particularly common among families that have children with birth defects.
Each year, parents abandon thousands of children with defects or other health issues. For example, in 2015, a member of the public discovered a baby girl buried in the province of Guangxi. She had a cleft lip that her parents presumably could not afford to fix.
With so many possibilities to consider, local police were keen to get to the bottom of what had happened to the baby rescued from the woods. They launched investigation into the abandonment right away, but it would prove difficult to uncover any meaningful information.
In time, doctors transferred the little boy to nearby Jiangjin district hospital. There, pediatrician Li Feng took care of him and underlined that the baby still had a long recovery ahead of him.
Although the little one’s condition had improved, his situation remained precarious. However, doctors were positive about his future. “While his life is not out of danger, his body index is recovering and stable,” Li said.
Although authorities appealed for the baby’s parents to come forward, so far no-one has come to claim him from the hospital. So sadly it is not known what will happen to the boy when it is time for him to be discharged. Hopefully, however, the run of good luck which began with a dog’s finely attuned sense of smell will continue, and he will find a loving family to help him put his awful ordeal behind him.