Carla Abshire was a little surprised when the phone rang at 4:30 a.m. Thursday at her home in Gainesville. On the other end was her husband, Mike Giles, who was calling to tell her about the stir he caused at an elementary school near Beijing.
Giles, who is senior vice president of the Georgia Poultry Federation, is in China this week as a part of a trade delegation headed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. On Thursday, Giles was among a group of 20 members of the trade delegation visiting Tianjin Project Hope Primary School, about 75 miles south of Beijing.
He pulled a snapshot of his two dogs, Mr. Hobbes and Andi, and from all accounts the students went crazy. Giles found himself in an enthusiastic crowd of 100 children wanting to see the pooches.
In a region where pets are either prohibited or are extremely rare it is not every day you get to see a "piao liang gou" or "beautiful dog."
Giles left the single picture behind for the children and plans to send additional prints back to the school.
"My dogs are exceptionally cute, so I was waiting for this sort of thing to happen," Abshire said.
Mr. Hobbes, named for the cartoon character in the strip "Calvin and Hobbes," died nearly two years ago after battling several illnesses. The West Highland white terrier was a gift to Abshire from her future husband in 1991.
"Mike gave him to me just after we started dating as a combination birthday and graduation present," she said. "Then, he married me to get the dog."
The dog had a sparkling white coat and ears, when fully extended, that gave him a rabbit-like look.
The other dog, Andi, a Yorkshire terrier, has been a part of the family since being adopted from a rescue organization.
The couple has a third dog, Molly, a pomeranian.
"They are my babies," she said.
Giles, who left for China a week ago, is scheduled to begin his return trip to the U.S. today.