By Nike Bentley
“She has curly hair with straight hair on top and she lets me ride her and…” My eldest had been regaling me with stories of her dog “Abby” for nearly a year. By late February I had gathered this dog was “taller than Rusty and shorter than Ada” (a Shiba Inu and an Akita, respectively); was not a pony, even though she’ll let Remmy ride her; likes to chase balls; has black skin but light fur; “loooooooves kisses,” and has straight, short ears that curl. (The last description I found particularly puzzling.)
Remmy started telling us about her dog Abby when we first moved into our house in March 2016. I showed her different pictures of dogs, but she always responded, “No Mama!” and would remind me again what Abby looks like.
“Tell me about your dog, Abby” became a game we played on long car trips. Remmy never wavered in her description and I never could pinpoint what this dog was supposed to be.
In early March 2017, a long-time friend posted on Facebook that she had begun volunteer work with the Canada-based dog rescue, Free Korean Dogs. With the announcement she shared a picture of three Korean Jindo sisters who would be coming from South Korea for adoption — two red and one gray. Normally I am drawn to redheaded animals, but when I saw the gray one I was taken aback: she was Abby.
After quickly researching the Korean Jindo, which I’d never heard of, I confirmed this breed is indeed “bigger than Rusty and smaller than Ada,” double-coated with straight hair on top, and a loyal family dog. Upon completion of a long application and vetting process, we learned our puppy would arrive around March 23.
During dinner the week our puppy was to arrive, we discussed how we would each do our part to raise her. “Abby” is not one of my favorite names, so I suggested other names while my husband suggested we wait to meet our puppy before deciding on a name. At first Remmy humored us, but then she realized we weren’t playing a game. Channeling her fiery hair she raised herself to her full height, slammed her hands on the table, and said loudly and firmly, “No! Her name is Abby!”
There was no discussion after that: the dog’s name was Abby.
The day finally came for us to collect our “jumbo Jindo.” (The sisters were unusually large for four-month-old Jindo puppies, causing some concern that Tibetan Mastiff might be included in their pedigree.) As our family loaded into our car, my friend sent a text — “She loves kisses.” Of course she does.
It was past bedtime when we arrived home with our newest family member, so we unloaded everyone and commenced our bedtime routine. After the girls were settled, Abby ran back and forth between their beds before flopping down on the floor between them. We were hard pressed to get her out and into her own bed. She knew they were hers as surely as they knew she was theirs.
Four months have passed since we brought Abby home. She has fit perfectly into our family life and is slowly learning other people aren’t out to get her. We hear over and over there’s something about the Jindo that steals your heart and it is so true.
Breed standard for the Korean Jindo is erect ears. But Abby’s? Hers are straight with a curl.
Author’s note: My friend has since helped found Korean K9 Rescue, the American version of Free Korean Dogs. We have been honored to be on-call foster parents for dogs fleeing the dog meat farms and high-kill shelters of South Korea. If you or someone you know is looking for a furry friend to add to the family, please consider a rescue through this nonprofit.
Nike Bentley is a wife of 10 years (in September), mama of two fierce girls, collector of information, and Korean Jindo missionary. She believes kindness is the best starting place for every situation.
Editor’s note: Eight years ago, I taught a weekend communications course at Portland State University. One of those students was a bright, considerate young woman from Eastern Oregon who wrote a blog called Small Town Girl. That young woman, Nike Bentley, has become a bride and a parent and a valued VOA contributor.
Tomorrow: Maisha Maurant, Olivia Newton-John and the test of a friendship