The search for Pandora

More than a year ago, I posted this on an earlier version of my blog:

Pandora has been missing for five weeks tomorrow and many people are helping—Korean volunteers are handling phone calls and placing ads on lost and found sites, and a few of us have been up to northern Seoul to put up posters. Other volunteers travelled to the area at night in the hope that Pandora would be more active then. And a woman in Canada who lost her cat in Tokyo and specializes in missing animals has been extremely helpful and provided detailed advice. I feel as if we don’t have enough people to do a proper search, or the right equipment to trap a dog as scared as Pandora.

Then, last winter, I posted this update on Pandora’s site:

In the months since Pandora disappeared, many white Jindos have been picked up and their pictures posted on animal.go.kr, but only Ms. Jung can identify Pandora for sure. We can’t ask Ms. Jung to cross the country every time a pound takes in a white Jindo. By the time I moved to Pandora’s old neighbourhood this fall, she’d been missing for months and there were no leads. Still, I forced myself to put up a few posters, mostly at local vet clinics. Just before Christmas, a volunteer named Diana came all the way from Bucheon to help me put up more—but there’s no way those posters could ever have reached enough people in a city the size of Seoul.

One night, I was about to go to bed when I happened to check the lost and found site angel.or.kr and saw that a female Jindo had been picked up in Seoul’s Dongdaemun district—some distance southwest of the point of escape. It was very possible Pandora could have travelled along the train tracks. She could also have run south along the Jungnang stream and back north along the Cheonggye stream.

I shared the link and Deborah posted the dog’s picture right next to a picture of Pandora at the shelter. The resemblance was so remarkable that I decided to contact Ms. Jung—even though it was late and even though we can barely communicate.

Ms. Jung called the contact number and arranged to come to Seoul with Deborah in a van taxi with a dog crate in the back. Deborah’s friend sent me the address so I could be there for the happy reunion.

A taxi dropped me off in a deserted alley in an old part of town with only a few small shops in sight. I waited, then I called Deborah, then I started walking around.

Ms. Jung hugged me when she saw me. The three of us went door to door, checking house numbers in a convoluted maze of old-style Korean houses. Deborah took a picture of Ms. Jung at the door of one place—she was hoping to document a happy reunion too.

But the pretty dog showed no signs of recognizing any of us. She pulled back, scared. Maybe she’d forgotten her beloved rescuer after eight months on the streets? But Ms. Jung said the dog wasn’t Pandora.

So there’s a new dog at Daejeon Paws, Ms. Jung has one more mouth to feed, and Pandora is still at large. Sightings have been reported very close to where I live but the dog is always long gone by the time the person calls.

I’m sad to say Pandora is still missing. I can’t ask people to search actively because she could be anywhere; I can only hope she’s safe and that someone is taking care of her. I think it’s still possible she could end up in a shelter somewhere, and I hope readers will be on the lookout in case that happens.

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