Mute shoeshiner strikes Gold after losing best friend

By Phan Than    December 14, 2018 | 02:08 pm GMT+7

A moving, remarkable drama played out recently in Saigon, with a blind dog reunited after two weeks with a mute shoeshiner.

The reunion was emotional. The dog, Vang (Gold), repeatedly jumped up and kissed Tran Khac An. Punching his chest, the An looked up at the sky and smiled as though he could not stop.

On December 7, two weeks after he lost Vang, a friend helped An find him again.

Hugging the dog tightly, An could not help smiling, and put his hands on his heart to show his joy and happiness. He gave himself a "day off" to take care of the dog.

This is not the first time that this loving pair is making news.

Three years ago, a story about the friendship between the mute shoeshiner and the blind dog had spread across the country and touched the heart of millions of readers.

The pet lovers community and many young people voted it as one of 20 most inspirational stories of the year in 2015. The same year, they were voted among the Top 10 inspirational characters of the year and honored on the stage of the WeChoice Awards gala.

A wedding gift

To welcome his best friend home, An had someone write ‘marriage’ on a cardboard sign to organize a "wedding" for Vang and Tina, a dog that An has just adopted to become the former’s partner.

The sign was hung in front of the hut under Thu Thiem Bridge, in District 2, where An stays with his dogs.

An, who is mute and illiterate, polishes shoes everyday on Thai Van Lung and Le Thanh Ton streets, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City.

"An has been homeless for 20 years. He polishes shoes during the day and sleeps in a hut in the street at night, but he is very polite and honest. Though he is poor, he is very independent and will refuse to accept disingenuous acts of kindness," said Sang (60 years old), a motorcycle taxi driver, who lives in Ben Nghe Ward, District 1 and has known An for years.

An takes Vang everywhere with him. This picture was taken three years ago. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Tuan

An takes Vang everywhere with him. This picture was taken three years ago. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Tuan

Three years ago, when An was cleaning shoes in the street, he found a blind puppy abandoned in the pavement so he brought him home.

"An loves Vang as if he was his child, taking care of him very carefully. If the dog is sick, he will be so worried that he takes time off work to take care of him. He will get mad at anyone hurting Vang," Sang said.

With the intention of helping him, some people have offered to buy the dog for a high price, but An won’t even think of it.

When Vang was young, An put him in a basket containing personal items and work tools. As the dog grew up, An used one hand to carry the basket and the other to take the dog with him. "The two are attached to each other like a shadow. They share with each other whatever food An has. Whenever his owner sleeps, the dog lies by his side protecting him," Sang said.

On November 20, An lost Vang. Heartbroken, he refused to eat. Mute, he could not tell others that Vang was missing and ask if anyone had seen him.

Thang (left) is making a profile card for Vang showing his picture and phone number, just in case Vang gets lost again. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Than

Thang (left) is making a profile card for Vang showing his picture and phone number, just in case Vang gets lost again. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Than

Nguyen Thang, 32, a resident of Ben Nghe Ward in District 1, who is studying to become a vet, is an occasional caretaker of Vang. When Thang learnt Vang was missing, he decided to search for the dog. He posted information on social media and went to all the slaughterhouses, parks, other crowded places, and construction areas in District 2 and 9.

"Many people advised me to stop the search, saying Vang must have been killed, but I had never seen An upset like that," Thang said.

The miracle happened on December 3. A construction worker found a muddied Vang in the sewer, so he brought it home, washed and fed him. That evening, he took the dog for a walk. A passerby saw the fluffy dog running around like Vang in circles and informed Thang. Vang has a habit of running around in circles when he is trying to find An.

Taking Vang back from the worker, Thang washed, groomed, and had him vaccinated before returning him to An.

At the foot of Thu Thiem Bridge, District 2, An has gathered some canvas and bricks to build his "home." Inside, there is no electricity, water has to be borrowed and his personal items are just a few chairs, a table and a bench. But he has bought many items for Vang, including a special shower gel, eye drops, insect spray, clothes, snacks and bananas.

The mute shoeshiner and Vang are reunited. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Than

The mute shoeshiner and Vang are reunited. Photo by VnExpress/Phan Than

Talking about his future plans, An held up five fingers and pointed to the shoebox, indicating that he will polish shoes with the dog five days a week. Next, he held up 2 fingers and pointed to a street coffee vendor. An would help the vendor during the weekend to earn extra money.

Mid afternoon, as the wind buffeted the canvas and An played with his two dogs, Thang said, using gestures: "I found Vang, so he’s mine now."

An shook his head: "No, Vang is mine."

 
 
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