The so-called "pet shop street" in the Shilin night market has 10 small pet shops congregated in a narrow hallway off the market, where dozens of puppies, including two beige puppy Labrador retrievers, are piled on top of each other in a glass display case.
\n"Look! It's Quill! So cute! I wish I could take it home!" said one woman in the crowd of gawkers at the window.
\nThe pet-shop owner held up one of the Labradors and said that "Quill" costs NT$23,000, down already from November, when the Japanese film by the same name was melting hearts nationwide.
\nBecause of the hit movie Quill, a film about a guide dog for the blind that raked in NT$90 million at the local box office, Labradors in Taiwan are now simply called Quills.
\nThe cuddly image of Quill and his loyal spirit have been attributed to a recent trend for Labradors as pets. But what worries animal conservationists and veterinarians is that before long, these cute Labrador puppies will outgrow their owners' apartments and end up roaming the streets or languishing in stray dog centers, waiting to be put down.
\nThe origins of a fad
\nIn 2001, a photographer published The Life of Guide Dog Quill, in which the photographer spent 12 years chronicling Quill's birth, growth, training and eventual death. With its abundant black-and-white photos recording the touching interactions between the dog and his blind masters, the book immediately became a bestseller in Japan.
\nThe book was released in Taiwan in 2002, and by the end of last year, had sold more than 120,000 copies. A children's version of the book was also released and has been widely used as an elementary school textbook.
\nLast year, the book was adapted to film by director Yoichi Sai.
\nJapanese national TV channel NHK also produced a seven-hour TV drama titled The Life of Guide Dog Quill (
PHOTO: COURTESY OF FLASH FORWARD ENTERTAINMENT
PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES
PHOTO: YU SEN-LUN, TAIPEI TIMES
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