I Got A Korean Toy Poodle: How To Take Your Pet Abroad

I’m 24 years old, but to be honest, I’ve never really noticed animals. I just never cared. I feel like I never really saw pure bred breeds of cats or dogs til the tiny cubes in pet shops in Korea; you know, the microscopic clear cubes stacked 10 long by 4 high, 2 week old puppies or kittens inside with no toys, just a ragged cloth, going to the bathroom all over themselves.

Yeah, it’s a terrible industry…but sometimes your best friend is in there and you gotta get him out.

Anyway, in this great year of 2015, I finally walked past the shops in Cheonan on pet street (there are a better selection here than the ridiculously terrible and famed Chungmuro area in Seoul, believe me) enough to be spot the future newest member of my family.

There he was, a tiny chocolate poodle, named Choco by the pet shop. He was old by their standards at 4 months and kept in the back. I had to have him. I paid $300 on the spot. The shop owner simply took the money and handed me a receipt. Didn’t check if I was a crazy person or even if I had a house. Just handed him over. Shocking business for sure. 😦

I took “Choco” home and christened him Peregrine Took Houser, affecionately known as Pip or Pippy. I’ve had him for two months now, and he’s the best thing in my life. Super healthy since I take him to the vet weekly. I got him a ridiculous haircut and more clothes than I have myself. He wears socks. GAze upon the pictures and vomit if you will, because he’s my baby, damn it. ❤ Pippin

Well, two months in I quit my job and am moving back to the USA. As a new pet owner, I’ve never experienced international travel with a pet, but after 2,000,000 questions, I’ve got a run-down for anyone else needing to fly their pet home and I’ve checked all of these items off the list to fly my pup home in two days.


Flying Your Pet From Incheon To America

  • Get a crate if flying cargo. I bought a crappy plastic Japanese one for $40. Of course I find out it isn’t IATA ok, so I wasted my money. All dog owners here recommended I buy the PetMate Vari Kennel, which even comes with Live Animal stickers. Useful to say the least. $100 for small, $200 for medium and going up from there. Just do it if your pet is going ascrate cargo. Add the stickers, zip-tie food and water to the side, and add a copy of your information to the side just in case.
  • Get your pet used to it. My pup uses his as a bed.
  • Get the documents ready. Here’s what you need, and can be provided by any vet:
    • Health certificate
    • Vaccine booklet
    • Rabies certificate
    • Microchip (if returning to Korea)
  • Add comfort items. Don’t fool yourself, your animal will go through hell. Just make it as easy as possible on them. I taped pee pads to the bottom, added a comfy blanket, my old shirt, and two everlasting treat toys and a puzzle toy to keep him occupied. I tested those before we left- he hates when I take them away as he could play for hours.
  • On flight day, notify the attendants your pet is in Cargo. They’ll adjust the temp and check on them.
  • If flying in cabin, you lucky duck, you’re golden.  I’m doing that for my second flight. I’m checking the expensive crate and have a bag for Pip to transfer into at my connecting flight.
  • Go through quarantine. With your papers, it should take less than 15 minutes unless something is wrong or the attendants are jerks.

Gotta say, having a pet is expensive beyond belief. However, Korea has so many adorable cube-animals that even though the pet shop industry is evil, I caved and got a pup. My vet at least said the shop I chose was the best one. I know many people say “adopt ONLY” but for some of us it isn’t feasible. I didn’t want an older dog, and I wanted to train from scratch as a new owner. If you disagree with my choice, I’m sorry, but Pip has a great home with me and I have no regrets.

Anyone else have a sweet Korean friend they got here?  Leave comments below on your experience!


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Korean Arcade Life: What We Really Do On Weekends

Korea has a rich arcade scene. It’s traditional for people to live with their families well into their 20’s, so places to hang out are limited to shopping areas, cafes, and arcades. I don’t mind this at all, since arcades in America are all but nonexistent! In Korea, an arcade essentially functions as a Dave & Buster’s. Here, you can gamble your coins for candy, sing karaoke, fail at endless claw machines, and waste at least $50. Men are always vying for the biggest stuffed animal win, and will inexplicably keep feeding coins into the machines until their girlfriend is satisfied at their hunting prowess. Did I mention the  punching machines that further test the male ego? Honestly, the owners of arcades are experts in the human condition if you ask me.



Jobs in Korea: Advice

I was reading some hagwon blacklist websites the other day and stumbled across this review of Avalon English. I worked at the Avalon in Jinju in 2013 and had the SAME problems as this person…literally THE SAME ONES, so I assume ALL (yes, all) Avalon chains are the same. Don’t expect other treatment from a franchise.

[Subject: Avalon English Academy in Gumi City

Do not work at Avalon English Academy, Ding Ding Dang or Reading Town in Gumi City, South Korea. These schools are all run by the same people, and are in the same building. Do not work at any of them. I even emailed the Avalon corporate office, but even they don’t care and I never got a reply, so Avalon in general is suspect.

To give an idea, while I was there from 25 November 2011 to 10 March 2012, at least 12 employees left or were fired, over 9 foreign. They: fire people if requested to follow the contract, do not give letters of release to allow working at other schools if forced to leave, force you to work extra hours, don’t pay the medical insurance and pension even though they take the money, yell at staff when there is problems and do not resolve anything, withhold money every month, fire employees before their contract ends, don’t pay the end of year bonus or flight home, sue employees who quit and stay in country, spy on employees both at work and at the apartments when we are not there, have been fined by the Korean government multiple times. Do not work at any of these schools. I thought that it would not happen to me, but it did. I had to leave without notice because the treatment there is unacceptable. In Gumi, the school is notorious for being a terrible school. It is notorious and well known for being a terrible school in Gumi. I met previous teachers who worked for them 10 years ago with the same problems.


Overall I liked my experience in Korea and the people, as I did travel there after I left. I would have no problem working in Korea again. If I did it again, I would not take any job that starts immediately, and would ensure that I talked to the teacher I was replacing on Skype when they are alone, and at least one former teacher.

  • Read between the lines. If the school does not allow this, then move on to the next one.
  • Look through your contract carefully, and resolve any conflicts before going there, and ensure everything is clear.
  • If there are too many issues in the contract, move on. I met many other teachers, and would say that about 50-70 percent have decent schools, with about 30-50 percent with intolerable schools.
  • If you contact the teachers, look through the contract,
  • Take a job has non-hasty start date, you will have a MUCH higher chance of it being a great year. All the best.]

This article details some of the myriad of problems you can run into as a teacher here. Lots of recent college grads come to Korea, lured by a high salary for an entry level job and easy transition. They are willing to ignore common sense and make excuses for what looks like a poor situation.

  • YOU WILL GET 100’s OF INTERVIEWS. Your recruiter will probably lie and say, “you should take this school asap because you might not get another interview.” I remember being told this, and when I arrived it was the biggest lie I’ve ever heard.
  • Don’t jump on the 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd position you’re offered- there are so many jobs.
  • I’d also recommend skipping a recruiter entirely and contact as many schools directly as you can for a better situation.
  • Don’t know how? Send me a message.

Stay safe out there people! Happy job hunt. Be smart.

Tour My Korean Apartment!

I’ve moved 4 (yes, 4…sigh) times in Korea. This time around I wanted to make sure I got an affordable but adorable place! Here’s what you can expect from a one room apartment in Korea (at least if you can claim the top floor!)

Usually, one room apartments range from $300-450 a month plus utilities. Water is almost always included and paid by the landlord, as is cable TV and internet. The cost of living is extremely cheap, and as you can see my place is pretty big! I’m only 37 minutes away from Seoul by train and just over 1 hour away by bus (a $6 journey.)