South Korea’s 53rd Natural Treasure

The Jindo Dog, named for the coastal island to which it is native, was designated by the Government of South Korea in 1962 as the 53rd ‘Natural Treasure’ and was further safeguarded under the Cultural Properties Protection Act. Jindos are beloved and renowned for their unwavering loyalty and devotion to their masters, something that was borne out by “Baekgu, a seven year old Jindo who, after being sold to a new owner 180 miles away from his original home, returned seven months later, exhausted but ecstatic to be with his original owner again. He remained at his owner’s side until he passed away, and was later memorialized in the village with a tombstone, a bronze statue and a stone monument inscribed with “Growing children should learn from the loyal white dog.” 


Baekgu’s story was also celebrated with a children’s storybook, cartoons (one of which is named White Heart Baekgu and can still be found on Youtube), a TV documentary, and even a PC game. A word of advice before venturing out to watch any of the aforementioned: Have tissues ready.

The Los Angeles Police Department’s K-9 unit, however, wasn’t celebrating the months they spent training a pair of South Korean-bred Jindo puppies as possible new street enforcement partners.  The loyal but excitable Jindos, officials said, just didn’t take to the exacting work of crowd control, weapons detection and drug sniffing. “We worked hard with the dogs to develop their skills of sniffing out the odor of guns for detective work,” said Sgt. Doug Roller, chief trainer for the K-9 platoon of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division. “They pretty much mastered the task, but once they got out of the training environment, they got distracted in the real world…. A leaf would blow, and they’d go chase it.” You can read that whole story here.

Image of the Jindo statue of Baekgu

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