NAYPYIDAW — “What bothers me about my frequent travel is leaving Taichito behind,” wrote Burma’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in a 2016 issue of D-Wave Journal, the mouthpiece of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
Taichito is more than just a pet. He is a token of love from a son to his mother.
In November 2010, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s youngest son Kim—who is also known as Ko Htein Lin in Burmese—visited his mother in Rangoon after the military regime granted him a visa. This was the first time they had seen each other in more than a decade.
Kim bought Taichito, who was only a few months old then, from a pet shop near Mingalar Market in Rangoon and gave him to his mother.
Foreign journalists who visited The Lady after her release from house arrest in 2010 published photos of the pro-democracy leader and her new pet. These photos were widely shared on social media, making Taichito a local celebrity.
During this year’s water festival, the State Counselor had a water-throwing pavilion built near her residence in administrative capital Naypyidaw. She named the pavilion after her dog and celebrated the holiday there.
Photos of her pavilion went viral on social media and Taichito once again became popular.
Taichito is a pedigree retriever, who enjoys two meals of rice, beef and chopped lettuce daily. No one knows exactly what his name means. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi says she will not hit or scold the animal and takes him with her whenever she can.
When she cannot, she gives him a kiss before she leaves.
She reportedly does not like when people refer to him as ‘dog’ and a warning sign reading ‘Beware! Dog will bite’ affixed at her Hninzi residence later removed the word ‘dog’ and replaced it with a photo of Taichito.
In September 2016, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi paid a 19-day visit to the United States. On her return, she wrote that Taichito would not let her out of his sight.
In a 2016 article in D-Wave Journal she wrote “[Taichito] hugs my legs once he thinks I’m leaving him behind. When I sleep at night, he sleeps with his body touching my legs. It seems he thinks that those legs are the very thing that took me away from him, and so he can’t let them go.”
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi spends many of her free evenings with Taichito and says he refreshes her after tiring tasks. In the rare glimpses the public gets of her personal life, Taichito is often by her side.