Saturday, October 6, 2012

Safe at last

This little part of cyberspace has been a little deserted lately. That's because I have become yet another automaton in the work force, leading a life of drudgery and gloom...

Ah nonsense. I am back to share with you my very exciting story of how I helped rescue two very gorgeous dogs.

As some of you might know, our shelter currently has about 30 dogs. Relative to the olden days when we had up to 45 dogs at the shelter and in comparison with the numbers at other shelters, 30 is considered rather little.

Aiyoh, why don't take in more! I am sure you would exclaim. There are many reasons why we remain ever cautious and conservative.

A big gray cloud looms in our near future, threatening to break out into an angry downpour. Yes, in the not so distant future, the whole area where we are located will be up for redevelopment. We have about two years left on our lease, up till end 2014. And then, what will become of us? We really don't know.

We have no clue if our landlord will move, if we are able to tag along. We have tried contacting the relevant authority to ask where we could possibly relocate. What about the Sungei Tengah area that we hear is set for pet farm development? How do we go about securing a place for ourselves? I penned the letter and I was burning with questions.

We received a prompt reply for which we are grateful. But it didn't do much to enlighten us. We were informed that while the Sungei Tengah area has indeed been marked for pet farm use, detailed plans have not been released and they did not have the answers to our zealous questions.

So yes. Part of the reason we are unsure about taking in more dogs, besides space constraints, is an ever present, ever increasing anxiety that we would wind up with no place to go once two years are up.

With each dog we take in, we make a commitment of at least ten years. We have to provide for the very probable possibility that the dog isn't adopted. Is it responsible to keep taking in new dogs when we can't tell what lies ahead of us? Ought we not keep our dogs at a more manageable number until some solution is found?

We are strongly against the notion of capturing dogs to provide a momentary reprieve for them, teaching them to let their guard down with humans and then releasing them back in the wild when the going gets tough for us. Once we take a dog in, we are responsible for it, period. We either find it a good home or take up the reins to care for it for life.

Spidey once advised that with great privileges and power come great responsibility. We are fortunate to be in a position to be able to help dogs. But we believe in responsible rescue and every decision to take in a dog is a considered one.

So when Sangeetha wrote in to us by way of a sincere email beseeching us to take in two stray puppies she helped to feed, we thought hard about it.

According to Sangeetha, these two puppies were born to a litter of five in a heavy vehicle car park. One sibling got removed by someone else early on. Two others got knocked down by large, fast moving trucks. One of the puppies was witnessed to have been flung into the air upon impact, hitting a lamp post and then falling to the ground, dead. It was gruesome. I read the words off the screen with a heavy heart.

See how big the wheels are?
The poor puppy hit was also the friendliest. She is the one taking a drink in the picture. 
Her name was Lily. 

We were informed that vehicle accidents involving dogs there were run of the mill, whether puppies or adult dogs. Many adult dogs there are made to live out their lives with a bad leg because of one accident or another.

Sangeetha also added that the car park was located near a foreign worker dormitory. Word of mouth amongst the bus drivers who park their buses there was that the dogs there get captured as food for the workers.

But you know what was the real deal clincher for us? I fell hook line and sinker when Sangeetha informed us that the five month old puppies were actually human friendly. Yes, after expounding in my long winded fashion why we should curb ourselves when rescuing dogs, it takes a split second for me to go under. Zzz.

My experience with stray puppies, especially one as big as five months, has taught me that they are usually very wary of human beings. It is ingrained in them from young and might well be something that stays with them for life. Just take a look at our darling Damsel who was rescued at 2 months but till this day remains afraid (though huge strides have been made of course!).

Damsel girl

I made the connection with Sangeetha, learnt even more about the situation from her and told her I would bring it up to my four partners for consideration. I put on my most persuasive face and approached Wee, Florence, Choo and Feng individually. Divide and conquer, they say. Divide and conquer, I did. :-) 

For all their sensibilities, it didn't take much to convince the four of them to take the puppies in. I love these four to pieces because when it comes to needy dogs, they are softies at heart. All I did was put my case to them clearly and reasonably and the plight of the puppies spoke for itself.

Once the decision was made, I even managed to activate Choo and Feng with about two hours notice to go down that very night after work to help bring the two puppies in. Through out it all, an anxious Wee kept reminding us to bring torchlights and to be careful and Florence, who was at her dad's birthday dinner, kept in close contact. See why we are family? It was my initiative but I was never alone.

It felt abit surreal seeing Sangeetha at the site that night. One moment we were merely mooting the idea of bringing the pups in, the next moment, we were really seeing it through!

When we arrived, we were introduced to a kind Chinese couple, Uncle and Aunty, who were the main feeders in the area and had been doing so for a number of years. The puppies adored this couple. It was feeding time and the two young ones were running around them playfully. I was hopeful and I thought I smelled success. 

Meet Laifu, which translates literally into Come Blessing or loosely, into Lucky.

This little boy is by far the friendliest, most affectionate stray puppy I have met. We were able to carry him and scratch the back of his ears on our first meeting. He made himself quite comfortable in Choo's lap! 

Here is Toto/Doudou with whom we had more trouble.

This girl seemed to sense that we were strangers with something up our sleeves. She ran away when she saw us, hiding under a truck and refusing to come out from beneath. When she finally did, she ran from beneath one truck to another, dodging us where she could. Sensing that our presence only made it more difficult to grab hold of her, Choo, Feng and I went back to the van and circled the car park a few rounds, leaving the stray feeders to bring Doudou in. 

The stray feeders there had never attempted to bring a dog in before. They didn't know how to deal with an antsy Doudou, who became anxious when she saw them approach with the leash. At about half past nine, we decided to call it a night. Doudou must be exhausted and we didn't want to scare her further. We contemplated simply bringing Laifu back, because saving one life was better than none at all. But Uncle and Aunty were concerned that once we took Laifu with us, Doudou would never venture out again. Laifu was a good influence on his shyer, more wary sister and his continued presence around Doudou was crucial.

I went back thinking it really wasn't meant to be. It was dangerous for Doudou to be running around like that, avoiding capture. Furthermore, the puppies were reasonably well-fed. It was just the high accident rate that posed a hazard to their lives. Perhaps this was a sign for us to walk away. 

When we left, Sangeetha informed us that they would keep on trying. They didn't want Laifu or Doudou to be at risk of a brutal painful death like their sister, Lily. The adult dogs were more street wise but these two puppies weren't. With a heavy heart, I wished her the best of luck.

In loving memory of Lily, who didn't live to see the world

One day turned into the next and then another. We didn't know how long it would take or if the feeders would ever succeed in their mission. We couldn't wait indefinitely. There were other dogs to make room for and other things to tend to. Since I was the one who set the wheels in motion, I felt duty bound to put closure to it. I informed Sangeetha we would give them till the end of the week. 

I think the puppies might have heard us make the decision, because you know what? The feeders succeeded in bringing Doudou in the next day. If I don't recall wrongly, I received the call from an excited Sangeetha at around 9PM on a Thursday. I was alone, waiting for the train to go back home and wind down. Upon receiving the call, winding down was the last thing on my mind. There were too many things to do and the night suddenly felt young. 

As if the turn of events were not dramatic enough, it started to pour heavily. The side gate we use to enter the shelter was also locked. The feeders had to carry the puppies tightly in their arms and scurry for cover under the umbrella until they reached the safe confines of the shelter. I hastily put together a bowl of milk and a plate of kibbles for the puppies to eat but I think they were too startled by the events of the night and the distant rumble of thunder to enjoy it. 

Forgive my grainy shots. This was taken on the night they were rescued. 
It was dark and they were scared. 

Later on, as the excitement died down, I asked Sangeetha how they managed to capture Doudou. From what I gathered, a whole group of people who loved these two homeless puppies banded together to help bring her in. 

Sangeetha and a group of friends were standing around chatting with one of the bus drivers who was fond of the puppies. He knew they had been trying to get Doudou since the start of the week but to no avail. As they were conversing, the driver saw two naughty paws sticking out from beneath the bus. Mischievous Doudou had dozed off underneath. The driver bent down to talk to Doudou as he always did. But this time, when he was close enough, he quickly caught hold of her paws. Doudou struggled but he didn't let go. While holding on to her paws, the driver managed to quickly loop a leash around her. Even then, Doudou refused to come out from under the bus. It took a lot of persistent tugging before she finally did and when she was out, she was one scared, angry puppy. 

And while all the excitement was going on at one end of the car park, silly Laifu was cuddled up in Aunty's lap enjoying his belly rub! 

The puppies spent their first full day at the shelter in isolation from the other dogs. They needed time out to calm down and adapt to the new environment. In fact, silly Doudou was still sulking a little.

Sulky girl on her first day with us

The next day, we quickly took them to the vet for their first vaccination and microchipping. Laifu was a natural on the leash and his confidence and curiosity about the world made him such a joy to be around.

Doudou was more hesitant and she didn't like the leash one bit. But she was a quick learner. She was a little stubborn and was unceremoniously dragged around (by yours truly) at the start. Perhaps she saw how Laifu did it, because she got into the groove of things and in under an hour could walk properly on a leash as well. Two smarter puppies there never were.

On leash!

It's been over a week since Laifu and Doudou came to us. We successfully merged the two into Waggy and Gaga's compound. It took two days for Laifu to start going around giving kisses to those who came near. Doudou was more reticent. It took her a week before she started giving puppy kisses of her own. We almost clinched a home stay for Doudou but the potential adoptor eventually took home a new born puppy and didn't see it through. So we are back at square one, guiding these puppies along as they begin their shelter life and doing our best to find a family for them in the vast world out there.

And she starts to smile!

I've come to the end of my story, but for them it's just the beginning. The thought of there being two less cold hungry strays in the huge wilderness out there makes me feel inexplicably comforted. No more horrid accidents for these two. They are safe with us. 

Goodnight :) 

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