On Your Marc Katz

by Marc Ka

OK, I’m relatively new to this, writing about pets.

I don’t have one, and hardly ever did except for a brief period during my childhood when my two brothers and I had a dog for about a year who became too big for the yard, was given away to a farmer, and I think run over by a tractor.

By now, you know this isn’t going to go well. I’m not going to write about puppies and kittens.

I could, and some day I will, tell you about my attending the Westminster Dog Show in New York – twice.

It was quite a nice experience, and there is a lot to talk about. But not today.

Today I’m going to tell you about someone who ate dog.

No, no, no. Not me. Not anyone in my house. Even if it were kosher – which it isn’t – there would be something wrong about it.

It was a friend who ate it, covering the 1988 Seoul Olympics in Korea, where dog is served in restaurants as a delicacy.

In 1988, John Gugger was writing a sports column for the Toledo Blade, and doing a fine job of it. He never backed away from a story that was interesting or funny.

He went to Seoul intent on dining on dog.

Oh, sure, there were the Olympics going on, but a guy had to eat. Gugger thought, “When in Rome…”

You know the rest
of it.

He was looking for a dog, and not one to pet.

This was going to be a little bit of a problem because the South Koreans knew a little about Americans and their affection for dogs, so they asked their high-profile restaurants to bark off. I mean back off, for a couple weeks.

Gugger found a place on a side street that served mutts.

Well, they didn’t call them mutts. They used some South Korean name that sounded more palatable.

“Look, I had a dog growing up,” Gugger said. “I took care of my neighbor’s dog. I love dogs. But they eat dogs in Korea.”

As you might expect, all of his buddies backed away from him on the night he opted to try the new delicacy. They not only didn’t want to eat dog, they didn’t want to watch him eat dog.

He finally found someone who told him restaurants didn’t take pets from two-year-olds to sauté in olive oil. Most restaurants obtained their dogs from special farms that raised them to be eaten like, well, cows and chickens and turkeys.

The horses, I think, went to glue factories.

Some dog eaters have been forced by circumstances, such as Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, the guy credited with being first to reach the North and South Poles. In 1928, in a difficult attempt to reach the North Pole, some sled dogs had to be sacrificed.

So, there was precedent. Gugger found a restaurant and almost asked for the Pooch de jour. He wanted Fettuccine el Fido, but it wasn’t on the menu.

He also mentioned he was very hungry and ordered something that looked like a steak. Luckily, it wasn’t served like some fish, with the head cut off and placed strategically on a plate looking up at him.

That would have been sad.

Oh, and all the fur was neatly trimmed away.

Yeah, he ate it.

“It wasn’t that good,” Gugger said, 28 years later. “It had no flavor. And it was kind of stringy, and not really tender.”

A food critic on dog – uh, Googs, back off.

At one point, he complained to his waiter there was too much fat on the dog. A pair of scissors was found and the fat trimmed, right in front of him.

You know, if you’re eating dog, you ought to be able to withstand anything.

As he recalled, he had to go someplace else later that night to satiate his hunger.

The worst part was the reaction.

Of course he wrote about eating dog, and even in Toledo, the masses weren’t happy. A lot of them wrote directly to the editor and publisher of the paper, wondering how they could print something
so offensive.

He didn’t even hear that kind of noise when he once went to a co-ed bathhouse, in Japan, where everyone
was naked.

“They had no humor,” Gugger said. “I was just out to have fun.”

After all, the restaurant was going to serve dog, hush puppies on the side, whether he ate it or not.

The column has survived the test of time and taste. He is reminded of it at least once a year, and confirms he hasn’t had dog since.

Now that you’ve read this, I’ll offer a bit of sage advise. Dog is still offered as a delicacy in Korea – and a few other places. There are several websites that show you how it’s prepared.

Do not go there and look at pictures.

The views and opinions expressed in On Your Marc are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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