A COVID-19 patient’s loyal dog remained at a Wuhan hospital for months after his death at the height of the pandemic in the initial epicentre.
The dog, who was later named Xiao Bao – which means Little Treasure – arrived at Wuhan Taikang Hospital in Central China’s Hubei Province with his elderly owner in February.
Sadly the owner succumbed to the virus after just five days, according to hospital cleaner Zhu Youzhen, 65, making the dead man one of 3,869 killed by the deadly disease in the city.
Unaware that his owner would not be returning, Xiao Bao, aged seven, waited in the lobby of Taikang Hospital for more than three months, during which time he was fed by staff.
On April 13, after Wuhan lifted its lockdown restrictions and the hospital supermarket reopened, he was then cared for by shopkeeper Wu Cuifen.
“I first noticed the little dog when I returned to work in the middle of April. I called him ‘Xiao Bao’. That’s the name I gave him,” Ms Wu said.
“They told me Xiao Bao’s owner, a pensioner, was admitted with the coronavirus. Then he passed away, but Xiao Bao didn’t know and just stayed in the hospital looking for him.”
Ms Wu formed a special bond with the dog, who never left the hospital.
“It was incredibly touching, and so loyal,” she said.
“I grew familiar with the dog and later brought him into the shop.
“Every morning when I opened up, Xiao Bao would be there waiting for me. He saw me off at the end of each day.”
Ms Wu said Xiao Bao refused to leave and even when Xiao Bao was deliberately dropped off somewhere far away, he would make his way back to Taikang Hospital and patiently wait for his owner to return.
On May 20, as Taikang Hospital filled with regular patients, staff received complaints and concerns about Xiao Bao roaming the corridors.
Nurses contacted the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association, whose members took Xiao Bao in.
Xiao Bao was treated by vets and has also been sterilised as he prepares to be re-homed.
The shelter is now vetting animal lovers who have offered to foster Xiao Bao, the association’s director Du Fan said on May 24.
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