Animal-lovers' marriage of interests breeds a business
Forty years after his death, two of Bruce Lee's siblings reminisce about their famous brother's life and a legacy that is inspiring a whole new generation of fighters. Jo Baker reports.
Q: How did you start?
A: My husband has loved breeding racing pigeons since he was young, and I have loved dogs since I was very little. We got married and have had about 30 dogs of different kinds around the house. I have bred toy poodles, chihuahuas, Pekinese, Rottweilers, St Bernards, bulldogs and lots of others. I didn't like pigeons, but I got into them after our marriage and helped my husband prepare the pigeons for races. Ours were champion racers and that made me more interested in them. Now we just breed rare homing pigeons and have nine pure-bred Siberian huskies. We go to the US and Thailand for professional dog shows several times a year, and I can say my huskies are among the most beautiful in Beijing. When I'm raising pigeons for competition, I become more like a warrior. I am nicknamed the 'woman warrior' in the Beijing pigeon racing community because of my strength in a field dominated by men.
Is it expensive?
We've spent hundreds of thousands of yuan buying dogs and millions on buying pigeons. Our lives are simple. I wouldn't spend 20,000 yuan on clothes, but I regularly spend that much money on my pets.
Are there any similarities between the two kinds of pets?
Before I knew much about pigeons, I didn't realise they were so smart and sensible. I love dogs because they are friendly and good company. They know exactly how to express their emotions. I thought pigeons were different, that they didn't express themselves that well, but I was totally wrong. If they are happy and they know you, they will jump onto your shoulder. Pigeons are extremely talented and loyal, just like dogs. Actually the two creatures have more similarities than differences. They are both smart, loyal and fill you with their innocence, unshakeable trust and dependence on you. They never abandon you. Training the pigeons for competition is tedious. You need to release them every day to let them exercise their homing instincts and body. I get up at 2am, carry the heavy pigeon cages downstairs, and drive the pigeons to a place about 500km away to release them. Then, I rush back home to check which one has the potential to be a top racer. You can't help but be touched by their fortitude and loyalty when they arrive home, like heroes, after flying long distances and through bad weather and dangers.
Have these interests played a part in your career?
I graduated in dentistry from the Beijing Medicine University in 1990 and worked in private practice for a while. But now I am running a pet veterinary clinic because of love of pets. We raised many dogs and they were always getting sick so I was often at the vet's. I did this for a few years before realising that I should start a veterinary clinic. It turns over about 30,000 to 40,000 yuan a month and I provide very good dog dentistry and general homing pigeon services - unique services in Beijing. I don't expect the clinic to make big money for me, but as long as it can help maintain the health of my dogs and pigeons and offer nice services to my neighbours, I am happy enough.