This is the first picture of her dog that Reddit user “daisyintheair” ever saw.
This miserable-looking golden retriever, who had spent her life chained up outside, was being rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea.
“The sad expression, the heavy chain choking her neck, the tail between her legs that was wagging gently because someone had come to free her… The idea that she was awaiting slaughter absolutely gutted me,” daisyintheair remembers. “‘This is my dog. This is the one.’ That’s all I could think to myself.”
Despite the distance, the dog sparked that instant connection she’d been looking for.
Dog meat is increasingly unpopular in Korea and is especially opposed by younger generations, many of whom are working to make the habit a thing of the past.
So far, Humane Society International (HSI) has shut down five dog meat farms in South Korea, where they’re working to eradicate the dog meat trade altogether. This farm was the fourth to be shut down.
That day, 25 dogs and puppies were rescued. They’d been neglected and left in cages at the mercy of the elements, but they still eventually warmed up to their rescuers.
The dogs rescued from these farms are of all breeds, including popular breeds like golden retrievers, labs, and huskies.
The dogs were flown to the U.S., where they were then sent to various shelters with room.
The dogs were split up, so that meant daisyintheair had to track down the golden retriever she’d fallen in love with.
And she found her!
Daisyintheair showed up early after a week of “obsessively” checking the shelter’s website to see when the dog was ready for adoption.
“Despite the smile on her face, the adoption coordinators let us know that she was extremely skittish and scared. They weren’t sure if it was temporary or something to adapt to long-term,” daisyintheair says.
“Her coat was rough, not soft and fluffy like a typical golden retriever with its flaxen hair. Despite a bath when she arrived, she was still pretty stinky as a result of the poor conditions she was kept in. I didn’t care about any of these perceived flaws though, I knew this was my dog.”
But it all worked out in the end.
“The little stinkbug came home and I named her Harper. Fortunately, she took to her crate immediately.”
Harper spent most of her time in the crate her first week home, while she was also recovering from her spay surgery.
However, she was still skittish and terrified of people, cars, loud noises, water, and the vacuum cleaner.
But she was learning to adjust to family life.
“This is her award-winning ‘you’re holding a treat in front of the camera’ smile,” daisyintheair says.
They also worked on her fears. Goldens typically like the water, but after life in an unprotected cage, Harper had come to fear the water.
Luckily, a raincoat helped ease her fear of the rain. It also helped her look a little like the Gorton’s fisherman.
Harper had also never socialized with other dogs.
“Here is Harper meeting a group of dogs for the first time. She crouched down when they initially swarmed her, but after a few minutes she was happily sniffing butts and playing with her new pals.”
“If I could do it over again,” daisyintheair continues, “I would probably start her out meeting one or two dogs instead of a group, but thankfully everything still turned out OK.”
And while she was still getting used to water, Harper turned out to be a big fan of the snow!
She loved jumping through the snowbanks near the house.
Because daisyintheair works long hours, Harper also had to get to know the dog walkers.
“I work full time and pup gets walked while I’m away. Her walkers are super sweet and she loves spending time with them,” she says.
“They truly work some dog-whispering magic on her as all my photo updates include a smile this big.”
After spending more time in her new home with her new human and dog friends, Harper began to enjoy life as a normal dog and got right into chewing on sticks!
As well as on some other things. In fact, she chewed up this shoe right before graduating from her intermediate training class!
“I like to think of this as her way of having a last hurrah before moving to advanced [training class],” daisyintheair says.
“It was also the first time she has destroyed anything of mine, so I didn’t mind.”
Harper is also getting to do all kinds of things like going to the beach. She’s still a bit leery of the water, but she seems to be getting more comfortable with it.
“I brought her to the office with me last week. Tried to put her to work, but she was pretty useless at anything finance-related. Unfortunately, she didn’t qualify for a consulting fee. [And] she slept on the job.”
“Harper has been an indescribable joy in my life. She is a spunky little thing that has so much personality and love — it’s hard to imagine that she was ever destined to end up on a dinner plate,” daisyintheair says.
And Harper has also made her life more fulfilling and healthy.
“I love waking up in the morning to her licking my hand. Regular walks keep me active. It’s hard to get upset over little things when this little furball is rolling on the ground or chasing her tail… Having her has resulted in countless physical, mental and emotional benefits for me. Sometimes I really do wonder who rescued whom.”
You can see what Harper is up to today on her Instagram, and also keep up with HSI’s efforts to shut down the dog meat trade in South Korea and China, as well as their other rescue projects, on Facebook.
And be sure to SHARE this incredible story of a connection made over thousands of miles.