A younger me and Shar-Pei puppies made the news

by Neva Bodin


Her current owner wasn’t home when I went to pick her up. She sat in a 6 X 6 foot cage watching me warily. I’m sure she was asking herself, “Now what?”

Her name was Something Pagoda of Altar, (I don’t remember the first part anymore), but she was called Pagoda for short. She was a registered Shar-Pei.

The Shar-Pei was the 134th breed recognized by the American Kennel Club, but has been around for hundreds of years. From China they were bred to guard, hunt, herd, and later, fight, and are known for intelligence and devotion to their owners. Read more at

Puppy 001
Intelligent, they  enjoy the paper…

She was three years old when I purchased her, had been kept in a cage for the purpose of making litters of puppies to sell. I was her third owner. She didn’t know how to respond to her name, didn’t enjoy being petted, as touch seemed somewhat foreign to her, and wasn’t house broken.

Pagoda 001

Looking back, I feel somewhat guilty that I too, purchased her for her ability to have puppies. We had just started farming and I thought I might get out of nursing so was looking for other sources of income. My kids were still in school and I would be needed on the farm.

I was amazed that she came out of the cage willingly with me—a stranger. However, on the 60 mile ride home, she sat on her side of the front seat, shivering, and giving off a distinctive body odor I soon learned was what a Sharpei does when feeling fearful. Waiting for her was a 3 X 4 foot insulated doghouse with its own doggy door and kennel around it.

Purchased in the fall, I invited her into the house sometimes to get acquainted. She soon learned to come to her name, tolerate being petted and show more courage. She only relieved herself under the Christmas tree once to get the message that the tree didn’t mean she was outside, and it was not acceptable behavior in the house. She was the most intelligent dog I have ever had.

Her first litter was born on New Years. I crawled in that big dog house with her and attended the births. My memory fails, but I believe she had six. Her second litter was the next August, and she had seven. I only raised two litters from her.Neva and puppies 001

Marketing a Shar-Pei is a challenge. Not many are acquainted with the breed. “Wrinkle Dogs” is the most common name people associate with them. And wrinkled they are, looking like little old men walking around in baggy underwear.

They were chunky, solid little puppies when born, and their skin was loose and rolled all over. They had very short, semi-bristly hair. They were playful and loving. Each had a different personality—some shy like their momma, some brave and more aggressive.

Puppies two 001Shar-Pei come in various flavors and colors—chocolate, cream, fawn, red. Most of mine were fawn, but I had one cream born.

Pagoda and I developed a strong bond. One evening, as my high school daughter watched out the window for my coming home from work so she could time supper, she had to return to the kitchen to stir something, Pagoda who had lain on the floor watching her, then got up and put her paws up on the window sill to take over the job.

Other times when the wind blew strong, she seemed nervous waiting for me, and when I didn’t come home, but stayed in town due to a windy storm one evening, she went to the corner in the living room and faced the wall, hanging her head.

Sharpei Christmas 001
Son, Guy

This, after, she and her son whom I hadn’t sold due to his having a droopy eyelid, were almost buried in their house and kennel one night during a blizzard. She somehow managed to get them out and climb the snow over the six foot kennel fence and push a side garage door open, (left open a crack for the cats to come and go) and save her son and herself. She would never go into that kennel and let the door shut on her again, after having lived in it for three years. After watching her a few nights, including a very cold one that finally made her stand in the doorway of it looking up at the sky instead of sitting outside, I said, “Okay, you win. You’re a house dog.” She was the best house dog I’ve ever had.

When she was seven, she got cancer. Finally, we knew the day had come to give her peace. My husband and I cried as we drove her home to her final resting place.

May she be waiting at those glorious gates.


26 thoughts on “Pagoda

    1. This is my third reply to you and they keep disappearing so if two more show up somewhere, well…. Thanks Doris. She was a unique and special dog. My husband cried right with me, and he didn’t cry over other pets.


  1. The tribute is lovely. My daughter wanted one of them so badly when she was a teen, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the money. I believe it was one of the Dukes of Hazzard Stars that owns a Shar-Pei. He used to bring her on several shows about dogs. They are very cute. So sorry for you loss, but I believe in The Rainbow Bridge. Cher’ley


    1. Thanks Cher’ley. A friend who died was naming people who were waiting for her as she died, and she said, “Oh, look! There’s Kelly by the gate.” Kelly was her beloved dog, the only one she’d ever had.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You know I love dog stories! I think I know where your daughters gained such great love for animals!! She was a lovely-looking dog. I’ve know a few Shar Pei dogs over the years, but truly have not seen very many. They are unique, both in looks and in personality. Like people, each dog is unique — made as the Creator intended — and that’s why not every breed is good for every person. Thank you for sharing your story about your special dog with us!


    1. I forgot to mention — I hope Pagoda has met up with Sam, Sage, and Cody and that they share stories about their owners; I can envision them doing so and saying how thankful they were for their special humans who cared so deeply (and still care deeply!) for them. 🙂


      1. Thanks for the comments. I hope they are together too, maybe they are guardian dogs now. The Shar-Pei are not plentiful but are great animals. Just like your spaniels. And dogs are blessed to have you for an advocate.


  3. Neva- Your recollections are wonderful. Though I’ve never hankered after a dog, I know I’d be very attached very easily. My husband’s job took him working all over the world, his away from home durations unpredictable, so when my daughters were tiny, and later growing up, I knew I couldn’t do an animal justice and bring up my kids as well. Shar-Peis are lovely and wrinkly!


    1. Yes, they feel differently when you hold them compared to other puppies. They are solid little chunks with skin that slides all over. Their coat is short and bristly when older but quite soft when young. Sorry you couldn’t experience a dog and for your kids too, but quite understandable. They do need time, work and attention for sure.


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