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Not after last year, when the twotime world champion pairs skater brought home Mootae an afble miniature dachshund mix with big ears, bowed legs and the bad luck of being born into the Korean dog meat trade. Duhamel, a vegan and animal lover, helped rescue Mootae by accompanying him on his flight from South Korea to Canada last February. The yearold pup has been living with her and husband/coach Bruno Marcotte in Montreal since, spending his days doing yoga with Duhamel and friends at the local dog park.
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I dont have the luxury of keeping another dog in my small condo, she said. As much as I would love to.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel is hoping to win a gold medal in South Korea this month though no prize could be more lifechanging than her previousPyeongchangsouvenir.
Duhamel and Park hoped that other athletes might serve as flight volunteers coming back from the Olympics, but Air Canada was too tight on space for that many dogs. Free Korean Dogs handles most everything related to adoptions, including work, vaccinations and crates for transportation, but the organization cant afford the thousands of dollars necessary to ship each dog without those travelers.
Koreans have been eating dog for thousands of years, though the practice has waned recently and most in the country dont do it regularly. Many older Koreans believe dog meat aids virility, though younger citizens are largely either against the practice or indifferent to it. The country has begun shifting away from dog consumption as pet ownership has increased, with one in five households owning either a dog or a cat as of . Some major dog meat shops like the Moran Market in Seongnam have been shuttered, and President Moon Jaein even made a campaign promise to adopt a shelter dog if he won last years presidential election. He welcomed a yearold mixed breed named Tory in July.
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Groups like Humane Society International want South Korea to ban the slaughter of dogs entirely, while smaller groups have eslished volunteer systems to rescue dogs and close rms.
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A Gangwon province official told The Associated Press there were no plans to relocate dog rms situated near Olympic areas. There is one rm near Pyeongchang; six near Jeongseon, where the downhill skiing course is located; and in Gangnueng, the coastal town that will host events like figure skating and hockey. Gangwon has registered dog rms, though most are closer to Seoul.
In this undated photo provided by Free Korean Dogs, Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel poses with her dog Mootae, right, in South Korea.
Mootaes adoption was organized through one such group Free Korean Dogs. Founder EK Park was born in South Korea and now lives in Toronto, and she oversees adoptions that bring dogs to Canada and the United States. She worked on Mootaes adoption personally.
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Duhamel, a Sochi silver medalist in the team event, is planning to do more to undercut the dog meat industry on this trip to Korea with Humane Society International. She, American skier Gus Kenworthy and American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis have appeared in a public service announcement about the dog meat trade, and Duhamel is also hoping to assist in shuttering a rm or two once shes done competing in South Korea.
Mootae, though, took right to life in Canada. Hes inseparable from his new brother, a yearold rescued beagle named Theo. The mily also has a rescued cat, Zara, living in its small Montreal condo.
I have been selling dog meat for decades. It is really difficult for me to change my menu just because of the Olympics, said Park Youngae, , whose Young Hoon Restaurant is nearly in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium.
We have to really rely on flight volunteers flying from Korea to Canada, Park said. Thats like percent of what we do.
Park, Mootae and a second dog, Sara, met Duhamel at the airport in Seoul days later so that Duhamel could fly the dogs back to Toronto. Mootae went home with Duhamel and Marcotte, while Sara was united with another eager mily waiting for her in Canada. Duhamels parents, Heidi and Daniel, adopted their own pup through Parks organization a few months later.
Most of the time, he just wants to sit in everybodys arms, Duhamel said. He doesnt even care to play, he just walks up to everybody and wants to be held.
Buddhists in the southern part of the country helped rescue Mootae from a rm as a puppy, and Park found him living on a monastery.
Shes also arranged with Park to fly home another rescued dog when she returns to Canada. This one, though, wont be coming all the way home with her.
Korean rescues routinely have a hard time adjusting to their new homes, and Free Korean Dogs monitors adopted dogs after theyve been paired with milies.
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Dog meat is a traditional dish in Korea dating back to the period of the three kingdoms BC AD , called the Samkuk period
Park picked up Mootae last year and drove eight hours north to meet Duhamel in Pyeongchang, where she and partner Eric Radford were competing at Four Continents in a test run for the Olympic rink. Mootae met his new parents in a parking lot outside the venue, calmly cing up in Duhamels arms shortly after being introduced.
Its been a different life for Mootae. Like roughly million dogs each year, he was supposed to be raised on aKorean dog meat rm, where conditions are often poor. Mootae may have been locked in a cage, beaten or left without food or water. Certainly, he would have been sold and slaughtered, then probably served in soup at one of many restaurants still popular among Koreas elderly population.
In a Dec. , , file photo, Park Youngae, owner of Young Hoon Restaurant, arranges dog meats at her restaurant in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The only remaining mark from Mootaes past is physical his front legs are a bit misshapen, possibly from abuse as a puppy.
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Mootae was so strong and calm, Duhamel said. Thats a funny way to describe a dog, but thats exactly how Id describe him. Hes so content.
We have a lady that walks our dogs every day while were training, and she says Mootae is the most popular dog in the dog park.
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He loved to sit with the Buddhas during meditation and yoga, said Duhamel, who meditates daily. I thought, Oh my God, maybe this dog has some special spiritual energy. That was really why I chose him.
Still, the industry persists, and despitepressure from animal rights groups particularly from Western countries Pyeongchang wont completely shelter Olympic visitors from the trade this month. Area restaurants were offered government aid if they stopped selling dog meat, but some declined to change their menus, fearing theyd spurn regular patrons and be left without customers once the tourists left town.
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He brings a very special energy, Duhamel said. I meditate every day, and he sits beside me patiently while I meditate. I dont know if he was trained to do that.gold for saleSouth Korea