Super

Mom with big brother and sister.

There was a constant flurry of activity during the last few days of our life in Korea. Mom was feverishly sorting through every item we had accumulated as a family and the keepsakes she acquired from her life before a husband and four kids. Whatever she decided to take for our new life in the United States had to fit in one of the large, multicolor plastic bags or the five over-sized suitcases. Everything else we had to leave behind, including our dogs Super and her pup Gome.

Super, who was named after Superman, was a wonderful mutt with an air of confidence and sense of calmness. She was gentle, smart and obedient, good survival traits for a dog in Korea those days. She was only seven weeks old when dad brought her home to four overly excited kids and one disapproving wife. Mom reluctantly allowed her to stay on the condition that she didn’t bark incessantly and didn’t destroy anything, a tall order for a puppy. Super not only kept to those guidelines, she earned the love and respect of my mom.

Super didn’t whine or bark unless to alert us of someone at the door. She didn’t chase small animals, drag in dead things or roll around in poop. She didn’t chew on shoes or the rice paper doors, and most importantly, she knew when to stay out of the way. When mom was busy with chores, Super sat in a corner until the housework was finished. She was one of the smartest dogs I have known and the only dog mom ever loved.

Gome, which is a Korean word for bear, was the opposite of Super. He was big and furry and always ready to give you a wet, sloppy kiss. His thick clumsy paws abounded with energy he couldn’t control, and he was always in mom’s way. I think if it wasn’t for Super, Gome would have been gone before his first birthday.

Mom pushed off giving our dogs away until just a few days before she completely shut down the only home I remember in Korea. The day they came to take Super and Gome away, mom was standing on the front porch, her head down, with her right hand to her face and her left arm tightly wrapped across her stomach. Her shoulders were heaving. When she looked up briefly, I could see that her face was soaked with tears. I don’t remember anyone else being there. I was too focused on mom and the dogs.

Super was in her favorite corner and Gome was curled up in the middle of the courtyard. Two faceless guys bumbled in with two leashes looped around their hands. One of the guys put a leash on Gome and led him out. Gome happily followed.

The second guy put the leash on Super and tugged her out of the corner. As he was pulling her across the courtyard, Super plopped her butt on the ground and her legs went limp. The guy had to drag her out. As she was being towed away, she kept looking back at us, especially mom.  Her sharp eyes were furrowed, whimpering with hurt and confusion.

Mom kept her face down and sobbed uncontrollably. Super and Gome were gone. After Super, my mom has not opened her heart to another dog.

Shortly after that day we were on a jumbo jet headed for America, a place as I was told, where the streets were lined with gold.

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