Ask any of my friends or family and they’ll tell you that I’m not a big dog-lover! In fact, until recently I was horrified and aghast whenever a dog would pass by, particularly when unaccompanied or not on the leash. Word has it I once crossed street sides, though I prefer to nor recall that 😉
That has changed pretty dramatically over the past few months in Taiwan. Dogs are just everywhere in Taipei (and probably even more so in the rest of the island). There’s a dog outside my apartment, a dog on my way from the bus-stop, and of course there are many dogs splattered across the beautiful campus of the National Chengchi University 政大 (NCCU).
Those dogs at NCCU are not of the cute type. They don’t get to see a hair-stylist, nor are they being driven around in the MRT in a special pushchair. They’re much rather stray dogs. But don’t get me wrong – they have a home, right here at NCCU. It just seems that few people actually care about them. They don’t sleep inside on a (probably not that) cold and (very) rainy night. As a matter of fact, they seem to be just fine by themselves. The relationship between humans – students, staff – and the dogs really seems to be characterized by quiet neglect on the parts of the dogs, and frequent public affection or rare public disgust on the part of humans.
As a matter of fact I believe that NCCU would be a different university if it were not for those stray dogs. They give the library-hall the smell, the general street the feeling of exploration and wilderness, and students a steady source of affection and/or fear. See a dog strolling through the ground floor of the College of Commerce, and you’ll know you’re at NCCU. Look next to your seat in front of the library and see human’s best friend (or smell it), and you’ll fall in love with NCCU in an instant (or panic!). Those dogs strongly contribute to this university’s culture.
When people criticize HKUST for lacking culture, for being too focused on academics, or for neglecting students’ happiness, I can’t help but believe that some campus-dogs would help our university! Just kidding, I still don’t like dogs.