He was a miniature poodle. If you happened to spot him somewhere, you might for a moment have mistaken him for a child's stuffed toy. He had a pair of perfect black button eyes and an ultra-fluffy coat of brown fur.
His name was Willow. He was once someone's pet in South Korea. But, he might as well have been a toy dog, for when he got old and ragged, and his teeth decayed, he was mercilessly abandoned to a local farm, a supplier to the notorious dog meat trade.
His life could have come to an end as someone's soup, or perhaps a few spoonfuls of medicinal tonic if he had not been rescued in the nick of time by a kind lady named Nami Kim. Since she knew nothing about his past, she named him "Willow." Like a willow branch, she hoped that this little dog could be
transplanted somewhere where he could thrive.
In 2016, Nami found Willow a perfect forever home in America. His new mom, Heather Heath, has been passionate about animal welfare all her life. Now, with her by his side, Willow launched his very own foundation, Willow's Wish, and a website, willows-wish.org. His mission was bold and simple: To end the dog and cat meat trade.
Willow declared to the world, "I'm Willow, and I am not food!" Now that he had escaped from the dining table, he wanted to save as many as possible of his canine and feline brothers and sisters from such a plight.
His task was daunting, for according to the statistics, about 30 million dogs and cats are consumed as human food around the world each year. So far, Willow’s Wish has sponsored some 39 international freedom flights from South Korea, China, Vietnam, and Egypt.
For the last six years, Willow traveled extensively with his new mom to raise awareness of the animal meat trade and gain grounds for animal welfare.
He had over 12,000 followers on Facebook and regularly posted
things he was working on. His heroism has moved many around he world.
In 2018, Willow was crowned the country's top "Emerging Hero Dog" during the coast-to-coast television broadcast of the Hero Dog Awards, held by American Humane, the country's first and most respected national humane organization. A loveable ball of fluff weighing less than ten pounds had finally been recognized as a hero.
With his national and international fame, Willow worked even harder for his fellow friends. But just as his ambition grew stronger, his body grew feebler. On July 27 of this year, Willow quietly crossed the rainbow bridge, leaving many people grieving.
Willow's legacy will live on in our hearts and inspire us to keep on fighting the war against the inhumane treatment of our furry friends.
Reflections From The East Column:
By Qin Sun Stubis