No today I won’t be writing about the general well-being of animals but about what my crazy Chinese mother-in-law things is best for them. Her thoughts about this topic are rather different than what the average person has in mind when it comes to taking care of animals. Besides you might still remember that she is not the best when it comes to identifying animals.
You all probably heard and read all kind of horror stories about the sad life many animals have to suffer in China. In case you haven’t thus far you just need to do a quick google search and you shall be horrified. In a country where many people just buy a new pet once a while because the old one died due to wrong care or even wrong living conditions (yes, there are people who throw a tortoise into an aquarium filled with water) it is no wonder that people might develop strange ideas about the perfect care for their pets. Dear MIL is such a case…
She has currently two dogs and I say currently as there are in between always all kind of animals she wants to take care of. Those poor little dogs, one Pomerian and one Poodle, are living the majority of their time in a cage which measures around 1m X 0.5m X 0.5m. In this cage they can’t even stretch or get some real rest. Everytime my wife is telling her mother to let them out or at least get a much bigger cage (our little bunnies even have a cage multiple times bigger than the dogs) she just blocks it or tells my wife that the dogs just feel like her stucked in the tiny 55sqm apartment, yeah right. When MIL was for the first time in Finland she was shocked about the people taking their dogs out three times a day no matter the weather conditions as she used to do that more like once every full moon. This thankfully changed due to the pressure of my wife and she takes those poor animals twice a day out for a little walk.
Another thing she she is doing could be actually a good thing if done properly. She takes care of the stray cats and dogs in the area. She brings them food, water and on rare occasions gets even some cats neutered. However the food is not exactly what you would serve your pet. Sure she does have some special cat and dog food which she sometimes gives them but the majority of the food are the leftovers from the restaurant. What dog doesn’t enjoy the occasional Mapo Tofu 麻婆豆腐 or leftover meat from a Hotpot which more often than not sends a poor tourist running towards the nearest toilet as the stomach cannot take it. This kind of mindset she brought also to Finland and Germany where she told us with some little proud how she feeds those poor ducks in the lake. Most people might feed ducks some old dry bread which itself is already not good for their stomachs but MIL goes 10 levels beyond that. Once again she collects the leftovers from her cooking, let it soak up all kind of stuff a couple of days placed in a plastic bag hanging in the sun and theeen brings it to the ducks. By now I wonder just how many animals she might have already killed through this feeding style. She is also always wondering how wild animals can survive in the nature when there are not people feedings them, she does not believe that animals are rather good in surviving without her food.
Remember that I mentioned that she has currently just two dogs? In between she brings home a wide variety of animals from more common things like birds over turtles to tadpoles. Needless to say none of those creatures ever had a long life with her. So what motivates her for such behaviour or lets say why she keeps on doing this? One thing are the news shared on social media in China. She actually believes whatever is written there so when there is a story that water is very bad for bunnies and that you should cut their teeth with scissors (true story…) she believes it and tries to convince us to do the same. Another point is that she believes that animals need a lot of cuddling, taking a walk with a dog is not really necessary as long as the dog is cuddled enough. She also has a good way of telling when a dog is happy! No it is not the wagging tail but it is the tongue! When she was in Finland she was not only shocked to see people taking their pets so often out for a walk but also how unhappy they were. Why unhappy? Because the tongue wasn’t hanging out like her dogs have all the time. I think we know why dogs have their tongues out during hot days but MIL is not convinced of that science and calls it just a rumour.
The thing is I could go on and on and on but I need to stop myself before writing an entire book about this topic. Last but not least I have to add that she wanted to catch in Germany some jellyfish from the ocean when we were at Flensburg and settle them in one of my fresh water tanks.
P.S. all these pictures are from my wife’s old laptop, some of MIL’s pictures are so shocking (makeup gone wrong) that I can’t even allow them to be shown online!
Do you have pets or are involved in programs to help animals in need?
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43 thoughts on “The Love for Animals”
Aside of her craziness, I think she might be good deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep inside, she just doesn’t know how to properly care about animals. A lot of older people think giving normal food to animal is fine because ‘oh they would take it from the garbage anyway’, but as you said – even some humans could get a stomachache from that!
maybe you can find some books in Chinese that are like ‘pet guidebooks’ so she can learn how to take care of them …
*hides Biscuit the cat in the closet*
You better hide Biscuit in case MIL is closer than 1000km of you! I really should get her some book like “pets for dummies ” or something like that. The main problem is that she refuse to believe what we tell her
did you get my comment? because I wrote a long one then it showed ‘duplicate’ message and I can’t see it here 😦
I got it, for some unknown reason I had to approve your comment first
Great to read about MIL again. Hilarious. She loves animals and it seems she thinks she knows what’s best for them. My relatives in Malaysia are big fans of taking away the leftover pig and chicken heads from Chinese restaurants if they cannot finish it (always the case). Unlke your MIL, as soon as they get home from the restaurant they will feed the pig or chicken head to their dogs who lap it up happily. If there is a smell coming out from the day-old takeaway food bags that MIL open and give to the animals, I am not surprised.
Does MIL have a favourite animal? Or is there an animal she will not go near?
Growing up, my parents didn’t allow me to have pets at home. They said it was just another burden on our household and finances, what with feeding and cleaning them. Which I think was a good thing because I have so many allergies. So, I have to content with my stuffed monkeys. I generally buy or get one new one each year 🙂
I don’t know what her favorite animal might be but she is afraid of all kind of sea life 🙂
As a child I wasn’t allowed either any pets however in my fifth grade I was allowed to have my first aquarium 🙂
Now fast forward many years and I have once again some aquarium around the apartment …but anyways I will have some post at some point about my little hobby as well
Ah, MIL doesn’t like swimming and so doesn’t like sea creatures. Makes sense. So if Nathan learns to swim, then he can finally escape her molly-coddling clutches… 😉
I am sure that aquarium is thriving in your apartment these days since Nathan likes animals 🙂
She actually does like swimming, just not in the sun, only in indoor swimming pools 🙂
My tanks are going fairly well. It takes long time that the plants grow according to my ideas but now it gets better and better
So that’s why MIL doesn’t like the water at the beach… Best to keep the water fresh in the tanks or else that will deprive the oxygen there 🙂
Having the dogs in cages is not cool 😦 Why did she get them in the first place if she doesn’t want them in her apartment?
“News” shared on wechat are completely bollocks. My bf’s aunt usually sends me stories about girls having drinks in a bar and then waking up in a hotel bathroom without kidneys… gosh, at least they should invent some new stories!!
She is a very confusing woman so no one knows what’s going on in her head. FIL said that she just have fishes in her head :p
I love your MIL stories. I think she loves animals and thinks she is doing right things in her mind. 🙂 I guess some things are old school and some are lack of knowledge.
She surely loves animals but she is just too stubborn to accept how to treat them properly (she always complains how stubborn her own mother is but well, the Apple is not falling far from the tree it seems)
Hehehe, I think you are describing most human beings 🙂
This is really a topic to get people riled up. I even feel annoyed after reading this.
The thing is, your mother-in-law, while crazy, is probably no different when it comes to animals than most Chinese people her age that live in mainland China. It is just the overall attitude and lack of education. The way people treat animals, both as pets and in zoos, drives me crazy. I saw about nearly a dozen people feeding zebras cookies (wtf?) at the Beijing Zoo. I also saw plenty of kids and grown adults banging on cages and using other tactics to get animals’ attention. I also hate that I see people selling small rodents and chicks on the side of the road. Children take them home because they are cute, but they aren’t cared for and soon die. Not only that, such animals aren’t meant to be pets! Enough! I could also go on about this topic all day.
I know what you mean, it makes me always angry and very sad when I see this. Just today I saw dozens of propel selling turtles, fishes, bunnies and puppies at the roadside when we came home from the supermarket. The thing is that they won’t stop as long as there is demand and there will be demand for rather long time as they don’t even learn about those animals and proper care in school (in germany and in Finland we had extra special classes for this so we would learn latest there to respect animals)
Lol, MIL really is a unique individual…but it seems like she must have a love for animals deep down inside. She probably thinks she is giving the strays a real treat when she gives them the Mapo Tofu (after all, the Chinese sure like to eat it!) But oh, I really feel bad for the poor ducks. 😦
Yes she must love them but well, as long as she refuses to listen to us she will just continue with her way of “caring” for these animals.
Thankfully there were more than neon ducks at the lake so I would at least not see of any are suddenly missing!
Poor dogs! That’s terrible… At least she seems to care for animals, but caring the right way is more important isn’t it?
The rumor about rabbits not needing water is the worst!!! Makes me so mad
Sad but interesting post.
Every time I see her going to the stray dogs I feel very sorry for them. Sure it is nice that someone takes care of them but it should be done properly.
I have the feeling (and my wife as well) that the rumor of bunnies not needing any water started after some got sick from drinking the normal tap water in China which is not the best…
I have read some of your older posts for the last two months. The things you and wife have had to put up with. One can laugh about it but it is not so great when one is at the receiving end or having to see it.
Yes, I have read a blog about (Chinese) rabbits not needing water from the Behind the Wall. The blogger also wrote about keeping crabs as a pet indoor by her Significant Other.
We always try to take these things with humor. Sure it is not always possible like with the animals but when it involves only us we try our best.
It is surely strange how so many Chinese seem to have such misconception about animals!
Thank you for reading my blog for such long time 🙂
I think a lot of older Chinese people, like the ages of my friends parents and older, don’t care for animals in the way that Americans or Europeans would think is proper. This might be a cultural thing, especially from a time and culture where animals were less pets and more tools or food. In America and many European countries, pet animals are treated like members of the family, and live in our homes. In other countries, animals are necessary for work in everyday life and for food, but are not considered as pets and are not let into homes.
If the internet users spread the wrong way to care for pets and people like your MIL believe that this is correct, then more people will continue using the wrong way. I think it’s funny that Chinese MILs will be more likely to believe the Chinese internet than their own daughter and son-in-law ^^
Whatever is n the Internet must be right in her opinion. Once there was written that anyone can move to Germany without any problems and get the full state retirement paid in case they are too old to work…I really wonder how someone can believe such dream country could exist.
Here many people have chicken in cages but well you know that they are meant for the pan rather as pes
I’m glad your wife is influencing her mother…abit on how treat dogs better. It’ll take a long time. Oh my god, Mapo Tofu for a dog?!! Poor thing.
Myself and a number of my Chinese-Canadian friends, did not have a dog in their family when they were growing up. So I wouldn’t know about dog behavior.
My partner had a dog in his family ever since he was a little boy. He and his ex-wife did sell some puppies from one of their dogs who has 5-6 puppies. Dearie knows about certain dog breeds and typical types of behavior. He does have favourite types of breeds….English sheep dog. His mother had a poodle-terrier hybrid which was perfect for her…not too big but not too delicate like a chilhauaha. Important when elderly, frail folks live alone –trained dogs is a good living security.
It also encouraged his mother to go for a walk with dog daily for exercise… a good thing. Even in winter.
So I got to understand dogs a bit when visiting his mother and Mollie, the dog.
After his divorce, my partner didn’t want the cost and time spent of looking after a dog. After all, when he goes on a mulit-wk. long solo bike ride, someone has to then look after the dog. And I’m not around since either I’m in a different city /working full-time.
How old is your MIL? She looks very well-preserved.
My mother in law is 53 now. Many people around here never had pets when growing up so they never learned their behavior and what’s good for them. They just create their own (often wrong) systems of taking care of the animals or get advice from friends who mor soften than not have even less idea about it.
Another advice we got for our bunnies was to not let them run around, to have a very small cage as too much movement is and for them. Well I do know that this advice ain’t for keeping them as pets but as a future meal (used to be done in Germany after all as well when food was scarce after the war).
My parents had many dogs during their life but didn’t want to get any new one after the last one passed away when I was still young, just too much to consider especially when going on holidays for many weeks or in their case now four months during summertime.
My mother grew up on a tiny farm with different animals all around her. Though the dogs and cats had their purpose they were raised as pets by the kids but still not spoiled too much that they would not do their tasks anymore (protecting and hunting mice/ rats)
Ah, just tad younger than I. She is very different from my female friends in my /our age bracket.
When I see strange dogs wandering around, if dearie is around I ask him for advice…
She is pretty much different also in comparison to her friends. She has been a model until she was 40 and ever since that enjoyed her retirement…
That work experience would make her quite different from most women.
That might be true. It certainly left her (also according to my wife) pretty spoiled in a way which can be seen how she views things
Very true. It’s better that your wife comments on her mother in this way. She knows her mother best.
It seems that there is a lack of knowledge about the correct way to care and look after animals in this situation. It is sad that you MIL keeps her dogs locked in small cages as they need space to move around. Maybe you can take the dogs for a walk while you are there to show her how to properly care for them and to prove that the dogs enjoy it.
I don’t have a pet of my own, but my nephews do. And I have to admit that it is the most loved dog in the world and he knows it.
The dogs are currently “stored” at another place. The reason is that MIL educated them to bark to strangers and they can’t take it if MIL carries anything in her arms. Because of that the dogs would bark 24/7 with little Nathan here 😦
Well, my family, we do sometimes feed stray dogs with leftovers from dinner too, but my parents would throw those leftovers into a pot of water to rinse away the salt first. Apparently salt is bad for dogs, they say.
That’s good how your parents do it. It’s important to get all the spices etc out of the food in case you want to feed some leftovers.
OMG! I can just imagine how she would keep the jellyfish in your water tanks and feed them with hot pot leftovers :):) Though I feel sorry for her dogs, and I’m glad you convinced her to at least let them out twice a day:)
Don’t even give her any ideas of feeding my fishes and shrimps the left over food! :p
She is a fairly stubborn person who needs a lot of convincing and time in order to change even a tiny bit
Well, I actually saw that one coming, as I also have a MIL like this, and yours has already to be proven the same in the past. But mine on the other hand sees animals as something dirty, or more like food.
When we went to Mr.Panda’s grandparents’ place in HK before, I was shocked about how many animals they keep in their apartment. They had big turtles in small boxes for decades, fish in small tanks, small birds in itsy bitsy tiny cages… They kept them under horrible conditions.
Just recently I saw a documentary on TV about Chinese in China keeping freaking big 80-100kgTibetan Mastiff dogs in small cages in their small apartments. And they sell them and buy them for ridiculously high prices!
I really hope this will change with the upcoming generation(s). It is just so sad and makes me also angry how animals are treated by many people in China 😦
Once upon a time, had pets… before moving back to India. Haven’t felt our lifestyles compatible with responsible pet keeping.
Have a dear friend in Bangalore who does amazing work with rescued dogs – some of the stories are heartbreaking.
And my sis who is a vet in Canada has her fair share of rescuing too…
So while there definitely are cultural difference in attitudes towards keeping pets, there is unfortunately no global shortage in cruelty to animals… sigh…
Pets need tons of attention and make already planning a holiday abroad for a while rather difficult.
We have currently two bunnies I take care of and then some fishes and shrimps (my world and love it…). Everyday these things keep me busy enough but also make me happy as I can see that the animals are fine
I think that pets are important for children and for adults. I have had two dogs and one cat. My wife loves dogs and her parents had many dogs. My son has dog and my daughter has two dogs and cat. My granddaughter has horse.