A devoted coronavirus victim’s dog waited patiently in a Chinese hospital every day for more than three months to be reunited with his beloved owner.
Sadly, the pensioner was killed by the bug after just five days at Wuhan Taikang Hospital, say staff.
The little dog won the hearts of concerned workers at the hospital after he arrived with his elderly owner during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in February.
Unaware that his owner would not be returning, the seven-year-old male pooch waited in the lobby of Taikang Hospital for more than three months, searching everywhere for him. Kindhearted passing patients and medical staff ended up feeding the pining pooch.
Wu Cuifen, who runs a supermarket in the building, told reporters she learned that the dog’s owner was admitted with complications from Covid-19, and was suffering from pneumonia.
She tried to send the dog away from the hospital – to no avail. Wu Cuifen decided to temporarily look after the pooch, and she named it Xiaobao, or “Little Treasure”.
From April 13, after Wuhan lifted its lockdown restrictions and the hospital supermarket reopened, he was cared for by the shopkeeper. Ms Wu said: “I first noticed the little dog when I returned to work in the middle of April. I called him ‘Xiaobao’.
Xiao Bao on his way to the Wuhan Small Animals Protection Association.AsiaWire / Wuhan SAPA
“They told me his owner, a pensioner, was admitted with the coronavirus.
“Then he passed away, but Xiaobao didn’t know and just stayed in the hospital looking for him.
“He never left the hospital. It was incredibly touching, and so loyal.”
Wu Cuifen ’s supermarket is on the first floor of the hospital. She added: “I grew familiar with the dog and later brought him into the shop.
“Every morning when I opened up, Xiaobao would be there waiting for me. He saw me off at the end of each day.”
Ms Wu said Xiaobao refused to leave the hospital. Even when they deliberately dropped him off somewhere far away, he would make his way back to Taikang Hospital and patiently wait for his owner to return.
“Although Xiaobao can’t speak, we understand that he is definitely still looking for his owner,” she told reporters.
Eventually, however, some patients weren’t keen on having the dog roaming the hospital and complained to its bosses. So nurses contacted the Wuhan Small Animal Protection Association, whose members took Xiaobao in. He has been treated by vets and has also been sterilised as he prepares to be rehomed.
The shelter is now vetting animal lovers who have offered to foster Xiaobao, the association’s director Du Fan said on May 24. Ms Wu said she hopes that Xiaobao can find an owner who will treat him well.