We're far from perfect. There are so many things that need working on. We still live from month to month. Sometimes food runs scarily low and we scramble to source for food in advance. When one of our dogs fall extremely sick, we run around trying to raise funds to provide it with the critical medical care it needs. Adoptions are still few and far between. We are prevented from taking in more dogs when our current bunch of furkids have yet to find a place called home...
Yet, we still feel extremely fortunate because we're taking steps - albeit baby steps - to some sort of stability. The dogs are well settled in, there are people who genuinely care and Gentle Paws (in my biased viewpoint) has become quite a pleasant place to be in, despite the poop, pee and dirty dishes.
I just want to take this opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane and sneak a peek at the first few dogs who started it all... The following furkids may seem like a good old friend to you and I right now... but what lies beneath those happy faces is a sorry past. Here's the story of Doris, Dollar, Denny and Daisy - some of the pioneers of GPF.
Potential adopters usually take one look at Doris, shake their heads and walk on by. Too old, they say, not pretty... Doris has a tired face with drooping eye bags. Her body sags down heavily and she looks every bit overworked. It's a pity people don't look beyond appearances because our good old labrador retriever always has a ready smile on her face. When she's all excited, she'll even run towards you in an adorable gallop. When you know, like I do, what our dear girl has been through and when you witness how her faith in humans continues to burn bright despite it all, your love for her expands.
I don't know if you'll be able to recognise her... But this is the very same Doris when our pioneer volunteers Wee and Florence rescued her from a breeder farm.
Her skin condition was shocking and she looked like she had been bashed in both eyes. The expression in her eyes was so damn sad, like she didn't know what to expect from anybody anymore.
The transformation of Doris was incredible. Out from the breeder farm, us humans began to learn the dog that she was. Doris likes swimming. She likes walks. Most of all, she loves car rides because she knows cars usually bring her to somewhere exciting (like the beach). She'll hop right in front of the air con and plop herself down until you tell her that she has arrived.
So you see, Doris is so much more when you get to know the story behind her. We don't care what any one says. Our Doris is one beautiful dog.
Next, there is our golden girl Dollar. People see Dollar and fall in love! So pretty... they gush. And we absolutely agree! Any normal visitor would wonder to himself what a gorgeous girl like Dollar is doing at a shelter.
Indeed, there have been many who were interested in Dollar. But our GR is one of a kind. Unlike Doris, who recovered well from her life at the breeder's, it takes time for Dollar to trust. If there's one person she trusts more than any one else in the world, it would be Wee, the very man who rescued her from the clutches of the breeder farm. Only with Wee does she willingly go for walks. With other volunteers, she is hesitant and sometimes refuses to budge.
There's nothing wrong with Dollar. There is every reason for her to be scared because you see, not so long ago, this was how she looked...
The fur was gone from half of her body. Parts of her skin were red and dry. And she looked just plain weary.
Since then, Dollar has now got a beautiful new coat of fur, one that is regularly washed, combed and trimmed by us volunteers. The girl loves attention and would raise a paw to remind you to continue cuddling her the moment you so much as stop.
I guess some ghosts never go away. Dollar has come to recognise the shelter as a safe haven and is most reluctant to leave it. She was almost adopted once. But when we loaded her up her adopter's car, she took off and ran back to the shelter. Just imagine... have you ever seen Dollar run? That was how scared she was. It was as if she could sense that we were sending her off.
Nevertheless, we'll not stop trying to find a home for Dollar. Perhaps when she meets the right person, her fears would be put to rest forever.
And then there were Daisy and Denny. The really strange thing is... these two don't quite look like the typical breeder dog. But they were abandoned by breeders together with the rest. Daisy is undoubtedly a mixed breed. But she has the most elegant features. She sometimes reminds me of a little Bambi with her long limbs and sharp face. Our Daisy is the quintessential lady. She is gentle, graceful and clean. Yes, like a cat, the girl loves cleaning herself.
When Daisy came to us, her fur was rough. Patches of fur had fallen from all over her body and in some places, her skin was raw and tender. A quick examination of her body showed us that she had been used to breed as well. She looked like she had been through an ordeal.
Though the shelter was a world apart from the conditions in the breeder farm, Daisy had a hard time finding her place. Unlike peace lovers Doris and Dollar, Daisy would sometimes stand up for her rights with the more aggressive dogs. In the past, our shelter was cramped. We didn't have the luxury of dividing dogs based on their personalities. All dogs were housed commonly. As a result, Daisy sustained some injuries from scuffles with the stronger ones.
But there's a happily ever after to Daisy's story. The gorgeous girl was adopted by a husband and wife team of volunteers (Sebastian, our photog and his pretty wife Lorna) who help out regularly at the shelter. She's adapted beautifully to home life. Her coat now shines. She has a whole sofa for a bed and 4 walks a day. Clever Daisy has also mastered a whole array of tricks.
But most of all, she now has humans who love her and who are here to stay.
Denny was just a pup when he was rescued. Just like the rest, his skin condition was abominable. What made it all the worse for Denny was the very fact that he was just a puppy. It tore our hearts to see the boy grow up in such conditions. We have no idea what Denny was doing at the breeder farm. We suspect he might have been Daisy's puppy.
Denny managed to shake off the past pretty well. Perhaps he was only a puppy then and has vague memories of the past. Perhaps he just has an indomitable spirit. Whatever the case, with time and nourishment, Denny's coat of fur grew back. Today, he remains an active and happy boy. Well, most of the time anyway, unless volunteers forget to take him for a walk. Our man-in-charge, Wee attests to the fact that Denny is almost always forgotten. The sight of Denny running up and down his section, jumping up and down to garner attention is not an uncommon one. Because he is housed in one of the sections furthest away from the entrance, the dogs in his compound will either be one of the last ones to walk or they would be the forgotten ones.
The funny thing is, despite his obvious disappointment, Denny would still be extremely glad to welcome you into his compound. That's the way dogs are, always seeing the good in us and being ever so forgiving. So guys, if you intend to go for a walk, don't forget Denny and his friends in his area. They would very much like a walk as well!
And that wraps up the entry for today. I hope you have learnt a little something more about the residents of Gentle Paws that you don't get to see on your weekly visits to the shelter. As we've mentioned, every dog has a story, but not everyone's there to listen. Until next time, I'm over and out.