I'm not sure what to make of this...
Walking from Wuhouci to Du Fu's Thatched Cottage (more on that later), I encountered a couple in their thirties walking their dog. It's no longer unusual to see people with pets in China - the popularity of dogs in particular has skyrocketed the last few years. On this trip, in every city I've visited I've seen so many urban Chinese taking their dogs for a walk - well-groomed, well-cared-for and obviously well-loved dogs.
However, I have never seen a golden retriever carrying a ribbon-decorated basket with empty plastic bottles and a few plastic wrappers. Neither had anyone else around me. As I followed the couple and the dog, others would notice and laugh and point.
The dog seemed to take this duty very seriously. Once a wadded-up piece of plastic blew out of the basket - the dog put the basket down, retrieved the plastic and put it in the basket. Even his owners laughed at that.
I didn't have the sense they exploited the dog. The woman in particular seemed very attached to the retriever, hovering anxiously and clutching a handful of ear and fur as they crossed a busy intersection.
I'm at a loss to explain it, except that maybe the woman was some sort of urban environmentalist, making the point that if her dog could pick up trash and recycle it properly, so could everyone else, dammit...
More tomorrow. I'm tired.