Monday, January 18, 2010

Big Dogs and Little Cities

Here's the shortened question:

My boyfriend and I wish to relocate to Korea next summer for a year, probably in August but I will be visiting in May. However, we have that large dog obstacle - only for us, we have two. Our dogs are Kooley and Nahla. One is a purebred Siberian Husky (a rescue) and the other is a Husky/Yellow Lab mix. They weigh 50-60 lbs each.

 I am writing you for advice, any creative ideas you might have, etc. about bringing these guys with me to Korea. To be honest, at this point I am almost to the point of desperation because after reading a lot of stuff online it is totally discouraging. Your podcast about big dogs and bringing them to Korea is literally one of the only things that has given me hope.

What I was thinking about was working with a realtor to find us a place that allowed 2 larger dogs. Honestly, this is my only last idea on what to do . . . Another thought I had was to maybe find an expat that was leaving Korea that already had two larger dogs and a place we could take over . . .
Big dog questions never seem to end. The general idea that most expats give is that Korea is an awful place for big dogs because 1) some Koreans react poorly to any dog that doesn't look like it should be punted and 2) the fact that nearly all Koreans have dogs that I will at some point punt. That's partly true and normally I would just refer you to my other posts and podcast on big dogs in Korea, but it occurred to me that many of the problems facing expats with big dogs could be avoided if the expats themselves were a little more flexible.

I'm not suggesting that the questioner is being inflexible. In fact, it's just the opposite which is why I'll suggest moving to a small, rural city or bridged island. In the city, you're going to face extreme reactions to your dog. Just last night, my wife and I were walking my 10 month-old lab mix (who is about 30lbs tops) and the reactions certainly ran the gamut. Some were happy to see him, others stopped and walked the other direction and one even commented that "That dog looks like trouble." I'm used to it though and totally settled in Gangnam. I have no choice, but potential teachers do have a choice.

From my experience, older men and most older women seem to be a little more accustomed to big dogs. We could chalk that up to history or hometowns, but it's safe to assume the older the people, the better the reaction. Moving to a smaller town or island will not only give your dog more space, it will ensure you that all the obnoxious early twenty-somethings-in-their-UGG-boots-pathetically-trying-to-look-cute-by-acting-terrified-of-an-obviously-safe-and-domesticated-dog will certainly be lower in numbers. After all, they have to study in Seoul.

If you're coming with your boyfriend, make sure that your place is big enough for both of you. There are plenty of "couples positions" posted on Dave's and other sites, so you should be able to find a gig that offers a decently sized apartment.

My advice is to find some rural gigs (they can pay quite well), ignore the negative expat buzz and keep looking. I think if you involve a realtor, you're going to end up being charged for something you shouldn't be. There isn't a pet deposit in most apartments. You've just gotta pay if your dogs destroy it. Your potential school will be the one that makes the final call on your dogs. Be upfront with them and if they accept, then you're gold. If not, move onto to the next listing.

You've got plenty of time.

14 comments:

Foreigner Joy said...

Even gigs in Gyeonggi do that are still close to the subway lines are good for big dogs. Make sure you know what kind of home you are getting first. I know expats with big dogs and they manage. You want a place to take the dog for a walk and exercise. Gyeonggi do offers many parks. I live in Suji with a river below me and a long path. I see both Koreans and foreigners walking big dogs out here.

The Expat said...

Do you ever see dogs swimming in the river?

ohmygodimmike said...

In Kyoung-lee-dan (Itaewon) I see so many foreigners with big dogs, and I'm sure landlords are more lenient because of this. Of course this doesn't really matter if your school is deciding where you live.

Rae said...

Ok, so I didn't know I could leave a comment here using my Google account . . . Do you all suggest going through a recruiter to find a job, then and letting them know prior and then checking with the school once hired that we have 2 larger dogs?

The Expat said...

Rae,

That's a tricky one. Remember, all recruiters want the smoothest and easiest placements, so if they perceive you to be difficult to place, it might take a little longer than expected. Wait and talk to the school directly.

One more thing, there's a different standard for gauging dogs' sizes here: Toy is small, small is medium, medium is large and large is also large, but some might be weary if a foreigner is claiming their dog is large and since your dogs are in the 60lb range, I'd use your standard when describing your dogs.

"They're not that big, really."

Rae said...

Hmm, I see. Kooley is really skinny only 45 lb, heh >.< Nahla is 60 lb but it's mainly because it is all muscle. It looks around 45-50 lb . . . so they are not much bigger than the jindos I have seen. Maybe Jindo County would be a good place, heh - they are fixed dogs, too. I don't think outside Seoul or anywhere else in Korea would bad . . . only if you go on vacation, maybe but that's an after thought because I'm mainly focusing the logistics of us all going over there and whether or not we will be able to.

Foreigner Joy said...

I do not see dogs in the river.

Foreigner Joy said...

Logistics:
You two aren't married so it is unlikely you will be allowed to get one apartment. But you can make a deal to pretend like you are married ... I have heard of people doing this. If not than the dogs are going to have to be separated.

About telling the recruiters it does make it a little difficult whereas the school has to make sure the housing allows two dogs. My suggestion would be to research some recruiters and find ones you know you can be honest with. Tell some you have dogs and others you don't. See what happens.

As for flying ... I don't know if you have to buy tickets for the dogs. If so that is going to come out of your pockets...not the school.

As for living on islands... I would be cautious. Sure they have big dogs but do they have trained and reputable veterinarians? This is why I would suggest Gyeonggido.. or other province that is still modern.

I have read bloggers who have lived on islands and they usually have a very difficult time with fitting in due to being the only foreigners around.

You biggest challenge is going to be the housing. So get in touch with recruiters before the time of your expected arrival (2 months early) and ask about jobs with pictures and info about the housing.

Housing options that would be good for you are:
- Villa
- 2 room officetell
- Actual apartment

Ask about the size and location. I guess that is all logical.

You could come here without the dogs get adjusted and then have the dogs flown over later. Stating to your employer that you missed them...etc.

The Expat said...

Engaged-to-be-engaged perhaps?

You have to buy dog tickets for the plane and, as Joy mentioned, the school will not spring for that.

And I like the "I missed them" angle. Crafty.

kushibo said...

I have read bloggers who have lived on islands and they usually have a very difficult time with fitting in due to being the only foreigners around.

I would think having a dog — an instant conversation piece — could facilitate "fitting in."

The Expat said...

I would love to live on an island, but I guess it depends on which island you're on or how long you've been in the country.

Kush:

It'd be a good conversation starter only if, you know, you can actually have a conversation.

kushibo said...

It'd be a good conversation starter only if, you know, you can actually have a conversation.

Cute pets being second only to babies and small children as conversation starters, a Caucasian friend who lives out in the provinces is familiar with just about anyone within a three-kilometer radius who can speak English because the English speakers, applying self-selection, approach her whenever she's out with her kids. But it's the good kind of approaching (the kid is a built-in excuse for ending a conversation as well).

Rae said...

No one is going to approach me and speak English probably since I'm Korean and look Korean.

But to update, none of the recruiters wrote me back when I mentioned my dogs.

The Expat said...

Rae,

They want the easiest possible placement. Dogs don't make it easy.