Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September 11: Another Furry Affair

Every Furry Day has a story of its own. This Furry Day - our third in three consecutive months - was especially explosive. When we called for volunteers for the Furry Day of September 11, never in our wildest dreams did we expect to have such an overwhelming response. Up to 50 people replied enthusiastically to our request for volunteers and over 40 of them eventually turned up on the day of the event.

So many volunteers at Gentle Paws

New faces everywhere

Most of the volunteers were new to our shelter. But hey, so what? This bunch of volunteers was one of the most proactive, most enthusiastic group we have had thus far. Without them, Furry Day version 3.0 wouldn't have taken off the way that it did. A good handful of volunteers turned up early on the morning of 11th September. At 820AM, I was the first of the regulars to arrived. I couldn't help but feel a little apprehensive at the sheer number of people. What were they doing here so early! The shelter must be a mess this early in the morning with poop and pee everywhere. Some of us had intended to arrive earlier to clear the compound before volunteers started to stream in. But lo and behold, these volunteers arrived way earlier than we did! I unlocked the place and let the them in, sheepishly apologising for the way the shelter looked early in the morning. But some of these guys had been here before. They greeted our excited dogs, then without so much as a blink of an eye, set about helping to wash the compound. With so many hands, it didn't take long for the shelter to regain a semblance of the neatness and cleanliness we strive so hard to achieve.

Besides our opening day on 3rd April this year, Gentle Paws has never seen so many visitors at a single time. It was 830AM in the morning and you can imagine the level of excitement our furkids were in. Because of the unbelievable number of people who turned up, our narrow walkway was filled. When the rest of our regulars arrived, we had some difficulty assigning the dogs to their handlers and each group to a car. But our volunteers were patient. Despite the organisational bottlenecks, we never heard a complain or an impatient retort. Much to our surprise, many of the volunteers even stepped up and offered their cars for ferrying the dogs. We were worried that our single van had to carry the burden of ferrying the bulk of the furkids over to the park. But with up to 7 cars ready and waiting to pick up both humans and dogs, we managed to get all the dogs over to Pasir Ris Park in just two trips. Kudos, drivers! You are the unsung heroes of Furry Day.

They couldn't wait to go!

See how excited they were?

Because of the strength of our manpower that day, we were finally able to bring almost every dog out that day. Only 4 remained behind. Debbie, Buddy and Baby do not respond to humans. We are uncertain what horrible ordeals they met with in the past, but they do not trust humans. We tried our best to coax Caspian into coming along with us but to no avail. We had no choice but to leave him behind. Out of the 34 dogs we brought out, we suspect a good 30% of them have never boarded a car in their lives or stepped foot anywhere outside the vicinity of the shelter. Lady, Gaga, Waggy and Poker have not left Farmway 2 since they were rescued off Lorong Halus as puppies. Similarly, it was the first time Teeny, Queenie, Yan Yan, Jasper, Benji, Darwin, Million and little Dollar were joining us for Furry Day. It was a feat bringing 34 dogs out of the shelter and guys, a feat was what we achieved.

Destination arrived - our camp site for the day

Our little brownies have never stepped foot into Pasir Ris Park



This Furry Day was like no other. We managed to get all the dogs to the park but ensuring all went smoothly after arrival was harder than we expected. Because certain dogs couldn't get along with certain other dogs, we had to rein them in to prevent them from fighting with each other. Emily sustained an injury after being attacked by Daixin. It was a frightful scare but our volunteers responded quickly to break the fight. Like all shelter dogs, Emily was tough. Florence, our medic, was also quick to tend to her injury. In no time at all, our beige girl was up and about, her tail wagging from side to side.

Emily's bleeding ear

Emily all smiles again!

Then, I received an SOS for help informing me that Benji - one half of two of our shyest and most timid dogs at the shelter - had run amongst the bushes and refused to budge. We immediately dispatched some of our regulars to go help out. Regulars Choo, Edwin and Florence had to physically go into the bushes to extract the terrified dog. Peace reigned again until we received another phone call, informing us that this time, both Benji and Jasper had hidden under a car and were refusing to come out. One of their handlers, Cindy, was so worried they would run away she crouched beside them and grabbed on to their paws. Poor Cindy scraped her knees while ensuring the safety and well-being of our two frightened dogs. Once again, we sent our guys to lend a hand and eventually managed to retrieve our two furry friends from beneath the car. While the dogs were safe and sound, our volunteers handling them must have been quite shaken! We just wanna say a big thank you to Cindy, Rachel and Sharon for holding up so well. Worried that such an episode would repeat itself, Cindy later  bought new harnesses for Benji and Jasper to better manage them on walks. Thanks for that! We hope your knees are healing well and you're well on the road to recovery.



When the excitement finally died down, it was time to simply enjoy the great weather and fresh air. We can't read doggie minds, but we're quite certain our dogs enjoyed their walk in the park. Pictures don't lie, do they? Just look for yourself! Most of them look like they are grinning!

Xiaobai and his smiley face

A very contented Dakdakdei




Beautiful boy Dillon




Photogenic Dexter

We met quite a few curious passers-by while traipsing through the park with the furkids. One of them commented that our dogs looked remarkably well-groomed! Another said our dogs were extremely tame and friendly. Most of them have no idea that shelters like ours exist! In many ways, Furry Day helps raise awareness to the general public. We're lucky that most of the users of the park were tolerant and friendly. It makes me proud to think of our society as an all-encompassing one!

Furry Day also lends a chance for volunteers to get to know one another. It allows volunteers from all walks of life, belonging to all races, religions and culture to interact and mingle. Even if there were nothing to talk about, one could always laugh at the antics of the furkids. Don't they always say that dogs are funny animals?

DDD working his charm with a new girlfriend!

DDD seems to have found a new pal!

Donna and her favourite girl

Dexter and his new friend

Dribble and his new buddy on a mission to conquer the park

Picture perfect

Destine sure looks happy

Xiaobai showing off his dance moves

DDD and girlfriend Donna

Dillon and his BFF Daelle

As the clock turned twelve (noon), it was time for us to head home. Armed with experience, heading back was a much more organised affair then arriving at the park. In no time, all of the dogs were back at the shelter, filled with dread that they were about to undergo the torturous ordeal that is bathing! While some of the volunteers left directly from the park, a good handful stayed back to help us bathe the dogs. With so much help at hand, the dogs were cleansed and showered in short time. This allowed us to prepare their meals to fill their now starving stomachs.

Eh don't look! Dollar's bathing!

Qiqi all soaped down

Princess Teeny has TWO attendants!

Daixi showering

Dribble is actually cooperating when bathing... FOR ONCE!

And then it was time for lunch!

Food galore!

Whenever Furry Day draws to a close, a peaceful silence will blanket the entire shelter. Our dogs were exhausted at last. Most of them tried to sit up, but even as they did, their eyelids would start to droop. It was a thoroughly comical sight. It had been a long morning. Finally at 3PM, it was time to hang up all 34 leashes and call our furry affair to a close.

That's all folks!

Sleepy boy

So tired, Randy falls asleep before his fur dries

Mario contemplating the events of the day

Play together, sleep together

You know, at its core, Furry Day is essentially nothing more than a glorified walk. But it is one single day where our dogs are no longer shelter dogs. On this special day, they are not confined to walking along the muddy grass at the side of the road leading from the shelter. These narrow roads are often congested with cars on weekends, making it tricky to navigate. While using these roads, we also have to deal with the construction dogs that sometimes run out to guard their territory.

On Furry Day, our dogs get to walk in a park, as if they were something special. They get to enjoy the fresh scent of the green green grass as well as the sea breeze that rushes in to ruffle their fur. Thank you one and all for participating in Furry Day and making it such a grand success. Just so you know, led by Ann and Edwin, there were just 6 of us helming this project this time. We were extremely worried that we would be unable to handle the sheer number of volunteers but with your enthusiasm and good spirits, you guys made our jobs easy.

Thanks everyone! See, you made me so happy!

Thanks for making Furry Day come true for the furkids! We hope this Furry Day won't be your last.

I suspect a few random photos might be from our Furry Day participants - Kaizhen and Cindy. Otherwise, credit for the rest of the photos go to our stand-in photog, Jialing. Hey woman, you did great!


  1. thanks for organizing the furry day. every time i come back from furry day, i feel so happy! So nice to see so many volunteers this time and hope will see them in the next too!

  2. "On Furry Day, our dogs get to walk in a park, as if they were something special."

    But, they ARE something special. (:
    Hope to come down and help out soon!



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