Thursday, October 6, 2011

Go Drago go!

Ahhh. Joy. I finally have a free night to sit down proper and write in here. I have so many things I want to put down in words to share with you guys. But time eludes me. Thank you for sticking around. While this blog really belongs to Gentle Paws, one hundred entries on (this is the 110th, believe it or not!), I feel attached to this little cove in cyberspace. So let me reassure you that despite my intermittent disappearances, the posts will keep coming. After all, there's always something new to learn about at Gentle Paws. 

Before anything else, you guys should meet... Drago. That's a pretty cool name, isn't it? Rather... manly in my opinion, haha, like that of a triad boss, with a thick gold necklace and a cigar in his mouth! 

Not too long ago, our Drago was known simply as Orh Leng, or as the language purists in us would like to put it, ahem, Orange

But when he came to us, we could hardly see any orange on him. The fur was gone from half his body. His ribs were protruding out from beneath his skin. 

He couldn't open his eyes properly because dirt and grime had coagulated around them. 

One of his ears was infected so badly it drooped and blackened. 

And to round it all off, the expression on this old dog's face was one of plain weariness. 

Things didn't used to be this way. Wee told me that I might have met Drago  when we were helping out at another shelter some years back. In Wee's own words, Drago was "a handsome orange boy then, clean, steady and good looking". It's been a mere few years but it might as well have been a lifetime ago. 

What was his story? I asked Wee, knowing that like me, you guys must probably be curious as well. I was told that Drago wasn't the most friendly dog around and was rumoured to have injured quite a few people. The foreign workers at the shelter were slightly fearful of him and left him alone. So Drago's life basically revolved around being confined in his kennel and having a meal or two a day. 

Despite Drago's fearsome reputation, Wee managed to shower him and take him for a walk every so often. He distinctly remembers that he introduced Drago and Debbie... and Drago rather liked our Debbie! Wee took pictures of Drago as he was then, but he lamented that he lost all of them when his computer crashed. 

Hahaha I couldn't resist doing this.

At that point in time we decided to set up Gentle Paws and started having our own dogs to care for. Drago was left back in the hands of the workers. As days turned into months, Drago's condition deteriorated till what it is today. Heartbroken at seeing Drago in such a state, Wee decided to take him in and set him on the road to recovery.  

It's a fine, fine line between shelter life and stray life. When shelter life is nothing more than imprisonment within four walls twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, then perhaps the dogs are better off roaming the streets in search of food. While shelter life guarantees the dog a meal a day, the mental anguish and frustration can, more often than not, be too much for it to bear. 

The first thing we did when we brought Drago over was to send him to the vet. This boy seemed in real need of medical attention. We were worried that he might be blind because it appeared as if he had difficulty opening his eyes. He also needed to be vaccinated. 

At the vet's, our medical team was told that Drago wasn't fit for a full check-up because he was under chronic stress. Drago, they learned to their relief, wasn't blind. His eyes were just dry and infected. He was prescribed 3 different types of eye drops to be administered for a month. 

Cleaning Drago's eyes

Drago came in time for our furry day on the 24th of September. My experience with different dogs taught me that Furry Day never fails to be an effective balm for even the most tired of canine souls. This was no different for Drago.

I wonder how long it has been since he stepped foot into the real world, with its bright sky, fresh air and green, green grass. Because he sure seemed happy. I could almost see a smile on his old, battered face and a glimpse of the handsome dog he used to be so many moons ago.

On the second vet visit, Drago managed to undergo the necessary check-up. Our med people were told that the blood vessels in Drago's ears had burst due to excessive scratching and shaking of the head. He required surgery the soonest possible to save his ear. If left alone, the pain from the infection could last up to a year. 

On the spot, our med team decided to do as the vet advised and allow Drago to undergo what is known as the aural haemotoma repair surgery. Post-surgery, his ears had to be washed and drained with hydrogen peroxide daily for two weeks, all taken care of by our med people. Our medical team often goes about their work quietly but their contribution to the well-being of our dogs at the shelter cannot be overstated. 

Drago's still inching his way along on the road to recovery. It's a long way ahead but he is making steady steps towards his destination. Now that he has nourishing food, weekly walks and monthly furry days in his future, we're hopeful that Drago can become the dog he once was... and, with more exposure to and socialisation with us humans, even more friendly than before!

Do come down to the shelter to give this boy a visit! Otherwise, watch this space and track Drago's changes from right where you are!

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