What do postmen fear most? You guessed it – getting attacked by dogs. According to statistics compiled by Chunghwa Post Co. Ltd., the 8,000 postmen it employs around Taiwan have been bitten by dogs more than 2,500 times in a little under three years, and 80 percent of these bites were caused by domestic dogs. Huang Ming-chuan, a teacher at National Yuanlin Chung Shih Industrial Vocational High School’s Chemical Engineering Department, did some experiments and found that dogs don’t like the smell of menthol. He suggests that if people who are scared of dogs carry bags of menthol with them, dogs will keep well clear of them.
The Chunghwa Post Workers’ Union says the dog-bite me-nace has been plaguing postmen for donkey’s years. Hsiao Ti-sheng, a senior postman who has suffered several dog bites, says that dogs can attack at any time of the day or night. Some dogs look well behaved, but when you get close to them they can suddenly catch you out with a sudden unprovoked bite attack. Postmen are worried that if they do anything in self-defense they might infringe the Animal Protection Act. Lin Tan-tao, who has been delivering mail for more than 30 years, says, “Postmen nowadays fear domestic dogs because they don’t want to get their owners upset.”
Chunghua Post urges dog owners to keep proper control of their dogs. A Council of Agriculture official says that if dog owners don’t heed repeated warnings to stop their dogs biting people, then animal protection authorities are legally empowered to confiscate the offending animals.
Chemistry teacher Mr. Huang says that he has often thought about what might be an effective way to shoo dogs off. He did some experiments on his own dog, trying cinnamon, osmanthus and dozens of other fragrances, but the dog didn’t seem to mind any of them. One day, when he was making some soothing massage balm, he noticed that his dog was keeping its distance. He tried out the ingredients on the animal one by one and found that the smell it didn’t like was menthol.
1. plague v.
糾纏 (jiu1 chan2)
例: I thought camping in the forest would be fun, but we were plagued by gnats the whole time.
2. donkey’s years n. phr.
很長(一段)時間 (hen3 chang2 (yi1 duan4) shi2 jian1)
例: Charlie’s been playing the accordion and singing folk songs in this pub for donkey’s years.
3. do one’s (own) thing v. phr.
按自己的意思行事 (an4 zi4 ji3 de5 yi4 si1 xing2 shi4)
例: You don’t have to entertain children all the time; just leave them alone and they’ll do their (own) thing.
Huang put some menthol he bought from a chemical ingredient shop in cotton bags, and asked 30 students to do the experiment at home. They found out that with only five grams of menthol in the bags, 95 percent of the dogs would not come close. He then asked other teachers at school to put a little lump of menthol jelly in their home doorways, and they found that stray dogs stopped doing their thing near their doors.
Huang says that menthol is highly penetrative and stimulates skin and mucous membrane, producing a cold sensation. Dogs don’t like this smell, so when their sensitive noses pick up the minty scent wafting by, they keep well away from it.
Huang says people can buy menthol from Chinese medi-cine shops, chemical ingredient shops and western-style drugstores. The menthol can then be placed in porous bags and hung on the bags people carry, or put on the luggage hook that is usually found over the pedals of a scooter. That is sure to keep dogs away, and the hotter the weather, the better it works.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)