Leonard, Meg Purnell Carpenter and Angela Cavill at one of
held to discuss the progress of Jindo dog breeding on Jindo
and I have just returned from a visit to Korea accompanied
by Brian Leonard and Meg Purnell Carpenter and it occurred
to me that Our Dogs readers might be interested in some of
the background to the visit.
Since 1992, Angela and I, along with many others involved
in the UK world of dogs, have been working closely with the
Korean conglomerate, Samsung, to achieve the company Chairmans
vision to ensure that dog ownership and appreciation become
an integral part of Korean culture. In retrospect it did not
seem at all odd at the time to be approached to help in progressing
a culture change in a country as remote as Korea
but I can see now that from the outside it might have seemed
a strange project with which to get involved.
Many people have difficulty in coming to terms with other
cultures even thought they will happily travel to France on
a holiday (where horses and snails are an acceptable part
of the diet), to Egypt or India where poverty is an integral
factor of daily living or (closer to home) indulge in a Chinese
or Indian take-a-way where the strong spices and hot sauces
make all the key elements of the dish indistinguishable. For
ourselves we are very pleased that we agreed for it has been
a unique and fascinating experience
The Far East has a tradition of using anything edible as part
of their diet and this has always included those animals that
the West, in recent years anyway, regarded as domestic pets.
In fact, in Korea at least, I should emphasise that the market
for such animals, both for alleged medicinal purposes and
as a delicacy has dropped very sharply in the last twenty
years and surveys among young people, who see companion animals
only as pets, indicate that it will cease altogether in the
In the meantime, the Chief Executive of Samsung, Lee Kun-Hee,
as Chairman of one of the worlds largest companies and
a dedicated lover of dogs, has committed a massive budget
to hasten the process. Angela and I have been delighted to
have been involved and made a major (and voluntary) contribution
to the project.
Brian Leonard, then in charge of public relations at the Kennel
Club, realised that the training and educational elements
of the scheme were vital and, at that time, outside his (and
the Kennel Clubs) remit. He asked if we would be prepared
to be involved. Before our first visit and on the advice of
several UK visitors who had sold dogs of quality to him, Chairman
Lee had already built an absolutely magnificent kennel some
forty miles outside Soul.
It was situated in beautiful surroundings on the many acres
that comprised the site of Samsungs record breaking
theme park, Everland that recorded 9,000,000 visitors in 2001.
Samsung had also begun to sponsor Crufts but his staff had
limited knowledge of the techniques of caring for dogs in
confined environments: they were dedicated but their knowledge
and understanding of quality, of breeding and
canine psychology was sketchy. Although Chairman Lee wanted
to do more - much more - no one attached to his headquarters
in Korea was quite sure in which direction to go.
first step was to visit Korea and the kennels. As a result,
kennel staff were sent to the UK to train with us at Bell
Mead and in a series of visits, we developed training material
and coursework for the Korean veterinary staff and senior
kennel staff and held many seminars for them in Korea.
After personal discussions with Chairman Lee and his senior
staff, we wrote a lengthy report outlining the current position
and suggesting ways in which what was now beginning to be
called the project could move forward. This was
submitted to the Chairmans Office and received his personal
attention. A further meeting followed, squeezed in, I remember,
between a formal lunch with Michael Heseltine and a late evening
meeting with the Vice-president of Korea!
The key elements of the report were a series of wide ranging
initiatives to raise the profile of dog ownership in Korea
emphasising the value of dogs to society both as pets and
as working dogs. They included the encouragement of responsible
pet ownership using television documentaries, the media, public
relations and the publication of a magazine, the development
of guide dog, support dog, hearing dog, search and rescue
dog training and the implementation of a PAT Dog (Pets as
This report led to the creation of a major canine department
reporting direct to the Chairmans office and brought
together eighteen senior managers and other support staff
at new, purpose built, offices and training centres at Everland.
By 2002 the project was giving employment to over
three hundred people!
Back in 1992 few of those involved had any knowledge or experience
of dogs - they were all starting very much from scratch so
it was felt necessary that both the new managers and all senior
managers within the Company should be briefed. To do this,
I gave a day long seminar to over three hundred senior staff
from around the world at the Samsung International Training
Centre Korea in 1995 and held a series of meetings with the
appointed senior project staff to explain the overall vision.
guide dog training was already in progress and trainers had
been employed from the United States. The problem was that
the Company was working in a vacuum so little progress was
being made. Our report suggested developing contacts with
the International Federation of Guide Dogs Schools and we
were able to set up series of meetings that soon brought positive
results. Visits to GDftB headquarters in the UK were followed
up with negotiations in New Zealand for New Zealand has an
excellent Guide Dog School and relatively few blind people
- the reverse of the situation in Korea. Within three years
the first guide dogs appeared on the streets of Seoul and
by that time premises and training facilities had been built
for Search and Rescue and Support Dogs that are equal to any
in the world.
In the meantime, staff at the kennels were trained to evaluate
potential owners, monitor the progress of puppies in their
new homes and provide advice to owners if puppies became too
much of a handful.
The progress has been amazing. A recent full back page story
on one of the Seoul English language newspapers was dedicated
to the role of sniffer dogs being used to detect
drugs at Souls international airport. Such a story would
have been unthinkable ten years ago.
The visit last week was to join in the celebrations marking
ten years of the project, the launch of the new
quarterly dog magazine Heart to Heart and to visit
the famous Jindo Island where the Korean government backed
breeding facility for the Jindo dog is located.
More about the Jindo in a separate article very shortly but,
in the meantime, I am delighted to reveal that General,
a Jindo Dog, is currently in quarantine at Megs kennels
near Bristol and that he will be appearing on Samsungs
stand at Crufts next March. You can find out more on the Internet
It is fascinating and dont worry
its in English!
Meg and Angela being introduced to Jindo puppies.
does her bit socialising a Jindo puppy.