Sunday, May 15, 2011

The New Adventures of Born-Again Daisy

Today, let’s talk about adoption.

I have visited this topic before. But being so near and dear to the shelter and our cause, I believe what there is to be said on this subject can never be fully exhausted.

In a world where overpopulation, abandonment and the breeding of dogs have become such run of the mill occurrences, there is an even more critical need for us to accept the idea of adoption. We need to recognise that there is no stigma to the adoption of adult dogs, that adopting a four year old mongrel or an eight year old Springer Spaniel is not an inferior alternative.

The joy of keeping a dog as a beloved companion is not in any way diminished because of the mere fact that you missed out on its puppyhood days.

On the contrary, an adult dog is all the wiser because of the experiences it has garnered through the years, be it as a breeding dog, a wandering stray or a discarded house pet. When you accept an adult dog into your home, when you inject their lives with stability and a good dose of warmth and laughter, it will be a fiercer defender and an even more loyal companion than you could possibly imagine.

Adult dogs at the shelter have been through some tough times. They know full well that second chances do not come by easy. Things may be difficult at the start due to inevitable adjustment problems. But once the dog realises that your home is not another temporary stopover in the grand scheme of things, once it realises that it is here to stay, it will repay you in the only way it knows how – with a lifetime of friendship and loyalty.

To dispel the myth that adopting an adult dog is any less rewarding, we bring you the tale of Daisy. Hers is a story of redemption, a story of second chances and ultimately, a story of hope for many a forlorn, lost and helpless shelter dog out there.

Meet Daisy.

Daisy is a mongrel who was bizarrely found in a breeder’s farm about three years ago. She was unsterilized and there were signs that she had been a mother many times over. She was worse for the wear in every way possible. The condition of her coat was dry, patchy and rough and her face just looked plain weary.

Daisy - when she first came.

Wee rescued her from the farm and nurtured her back to health at Madam Wong’s Shelter, where we used to help out. Because of space constraints, we had to house the gentler or weaker dogs together with some other more dominant ones. Daisy was sometimes found with scratches and wounds on her face and body from the more dominant dogs. Once, she was attacked so badly she lost a scary amount of blood. We ached for Daisy but we could not do anything for her. Daisy was certainly better off at the shelter than the breeder’s farm but the status quo was not perfect.

Her wound wouldn't stop bleeding.

Fast forward a year or so and into the picture came Lorna and Sebastian, a lovely married couple with a keen love for all things canine. The thought of having a dog did cross their minds but they doubted their level of commitment to such a huge responsibility. Lorna was concerned that this would be another project she would quickly tire of. To avoid the risk of becoming an irresponsible owner, Lorna decided to lay the possibility of adoption to rest.

And so instead of adopting, this couple started out more tentatively by simply volunteering at the shelter each week. And then, slowly but surely, Lorna found herself falling, falling... for the furkids. Each weekend became something to look forward to. She was surprised that after so many months of getting down and dirty volunteering at the shelter, she had yet to get tired of it.

I recall Lorna’s big smile as she cradled the puppies in her arms, her hearty laugh as she gave Dollar a great big bear hug and the way she never rejected an invitation from Doris for a belly rub. 

Lorna with either Dyana, Diya, Dexter or Daryl.

With our ever beautiful Dollar.

With Doris, our most huggable lab retriever.

And then there was Sebastian, our very first photographer, who would happily snap away with his camera, capturing precious moments that would otherwise have disappeared into thin air.

A rare shot of Sebas, our funny photog, who is hardly ever the subject of the photos!

With some urging from a fellow volunteer, Lorna and Sebastian decided to bring Daisy back for a home stay, which eventually became permanent. Why Daisy? I asked curiously in my email interview with Lorna. Why her amongst all others? According to Lorna, it was a logical choice. They were initially keen on Doris and Dollar. But Doris was slightly too big for her parents to handle while Dollar was extremely attached to the shelter and Wee. Daisy was perfect because of her size, her affectionate temperament and the fact that she was increasingly being bullied by the others.

Look who's smiling now?

What about the puppies? I persisted in asking. We had quite a number of puppies up for adoption then and I wanted to find out why Lorna had not considered them. Lorna informs me that the thought of adopting one of the puppies hadn’t crossed their minds at all. They felt that the adult dogs were in greater need of a home for all the hardships that they had been through. Besides, they knew that the puppies would be nurtured and protected by Wee. Lorna couldn’t put a finger on a specific reason behind her preference for an adult dog and muses that perhaps this was fate at work.

And so this couple decided to take the huge plunge, both financially and emotionally, and bring Daisy into their home and lives. Having never been a house pet, having never stepped into a remotely residential area, Daisy was not toilet trained. Lorna and Sebastian were expecting the worst, at least for the first few days. They woke up one hour earlier than usual for work and were all prepared to clear up the mess Daisy created, only to find out that... There was no mess. Daisy was one clean lady. She held in her pee and poop and refused to do her business indoors. Till today, Daisy only sees to her business outdoors during her walks.

At the beginning, Daisy would follow Lorna and Sebastian closely around the house. She didn’t eat much as well. Most of all, she hated being confined at home without Lorna and Sebastian. When they left for work, she would try to squeeze her way out of the door to tag along with them. When they reluctantly shut the door behind them, they would hear Daisy stubbornly scratching the door, as if imploring them to come back for her.

Daisy was confused and bewildered at the start. But with time, routines and habits were established. Lorna and Sebastian now wake up earlier before work to bring Daisy for her morning walk to pee and poop. Knowing how much Daisy detests staying at home alone, they would walk her to Lorna’s parents’ home, located in the same estate, where she would spend the rest of her day until the couple returned from work.

Daisy seemed to have become Sebastian's muse because she makes such a pretty picture!

So, having adopted Daisy for almost two years thus far, I went on to ask Lorna what she felt were the advantages of keeping an adult dog. According to Lorna, knowing Daisy’s character and temperament before the adoption really helped them to know what to expect. Also, because Daisy was already about four when she was adopted, her temperament was not volatile. She did not and still does not bark, whine or cry and is a hit with their neighbours. Another advantage was definitely the fact that Daisy was no longer teething. Their shoes and furniture were safe from being chewed by an enthusiastic pair of young puppy jaws. Despite the fact that Daisy was an adult, Lorna shared that Daisy remains smart as a whip. Though not previously exposed to any form of training, Daisy quickly mastered basic commands like sit, drop, paw, head and stay. Down with the myth that old dogs can no longer learn new tricks!

Daisy's hero, Sebas. Lorna complains that Daisy loves him to bits and follows him everywhere.

To wrap up the interview, I asked Lorna what, in her opinion, was the most rewarding thing about having adopted Daisy. She mentioned that the sight of Daisy running around in circles with her tail wagging at a mile a minute when they stepped into the house each evening was sufficient for all the stress she faced at work to instantly evaporate. Keeping Daisy also helped bring her closer to her parents. Daisy became a common topic for them. Bringing Daisy on walks together gave them the rare opportunity to talk and really listen to each other. Daisy also helped bridge the gap between Lorna and Sebastian and their neighbours who were fellow dog owners. While Daisy and her fellow doggie friends would play, the owners would easily launch into conversations.

Daisy and friend: first impressions.

A dog who sleeps belly-up is a dog who knows she is safe and loved. 

Daisy sounds like the perfect dog, but I am certain this journey has not been completely smooth sailing for this young family. Keeping a dog is, after all, a great emotional investment. When Daisy underwent sterilisation recently and came back listless with a lack of appetite, I recall how anxious Lorna was. She meticulously monitored Daisy’s appetite and spirits and fretted over her decision to send Daisy for sterilisation.

Phew! A few days after sterilisation, Daisy's spirits were up again.

But no pain no gain right? It’s been just two years and Daisy has created so many memories with her new family.  I am willing to bet my last dollar that there will be many more to last a lifetime.  When asked if there was anything she would change about the journey thus far, Lorna quips that they should have adopted Daisy earlier!

Lorna and Daisy: the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Notice the signs that say “Puppies for Sale” in storefronts of pet shops? These signs act like an attraction when they really should be a repellent. When you think of buying a puppy, we urge you to spare a thought for the mother of the puppy that you have never seen. It is often a dog exploited to produce puppies until it is weak and lifeless, as if it were no different from a machine. The point of my story is to let you know that adoption, in particular of adult dogs, is an equally viable adoption. Daisy is a case in point.

So when you think about getting a dog, we hope you think about us and weave a fairy tail ending for another one of our dogs here at Gentle Paws. As Daisy has shown, it is possible if only we just believe.

Many thanks to Lorna for agreeing so readily to share her story and for answering my questions ever so promptly. I hope I was accurate in incorporating your answers into my article and I apologise in advance for any misquote. And Sebas... thanks for your gorgeous pictures! I took the liberty of scanning through them and posting them up.  Most of all, you two... thank you for loving Daisy. 

If any of you out there are interested in taking pictures of your furkid that are as beautiful as those of Daisy's, please contact Sebastian of D's Workz at 


  1. This is a very touching post with a message that I wholeheartedly support. We take in the senior Goldens for those same reasons. And when I sometimes think I personally am not making a difference, I am reminded that it makes a difference to them, and also to precious pups like Daisy. Thank-you for all you're doing in your 'corner' of the world and making a difference too!!!!!

  2. Thank you Lorna, Sebastian and the writer of this blog for sharing this lovely story. I especially agreed with your second last paragraph on the mother of those pet store puppies. I myself have a female that was used for breeding. Unsurprisingly, she has health problems. But she is the loveliest dog anyone could ever want. You'd think they'd be wary of humans because all they've every known is neglect and unkindness but they turn out to be more patient, understanding and so loving you'd never guess they came from such a background.

    Do keep up with these posts of hope and success. Change can take a while but every word that we continue to write, every effort that we continue to put out brings about change no matter how small. My first dog was bought. Constantly reading blogs and forums on news and updates about the shelters and horrible conditions of the farms after that however prompted me to adopt my second. I'm sure that with every day that passes, another person is convinced because people like you guys never give up trying.

  3. I was with a friend at Pet Safari. He wanted to buy a puppy, and I was encouraging him to adopt a dog instead. We asked the price of a shiba inu: $3.8k!!!! The assistant pointed to a corgi pup and said "that one is cheaper: $3400 only" OMG! I would much rather adopt a stray dog from a shelter and spend the cash I saved on its medical bills and what not.

    Adopting is not only the kinder option, but also the more sensible one. I just wish more people would see it that way.


  4. beautiful story and great work guys! Daisy is a lucky ger and I'm sure she's so well loved and taken care of as its shown in all her gestures in the photos. :)

  5. i've seen daisy before :) shes very cute and friendly and her ears are so unique ^^ i really want a dog but my parents doesn't allow me to keep one so they allowed me to "adopt" 4 newborn hamsters which 2 of them gave birth to another 4 cute hamsters! One day my brother came back with a hamster in a plastic container saying his friend asked us to take care of the little guy till he comes back from holiday. when he came back, my brother asked him when we could return his hamster because we couldn't afford to feed all 9 hamsters but he told my brother that he doesn't want to keep his hamster anymore. At first, we had intentions of giving the lil guy away but my mother slowly came to love him very much and so we decided to keep him and we all had to try hard to put aside a fix amount every month to buy hamster food and stuff :) I hope everyone can appreciate their pets and love them!


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