Friday, September 19, 2014

Fighting Fire: The Story of Demi

Don't we all love a good story of the fallen triumphing over the odds?

I thought I would kick off my new lease of life on this blog with the feel good tale of Demi. She was a little puppy disfigured by the flames of what we suspect to be a man made bushfire. The fire broke out in a forested area where Demi and her four siblings called their home. Our suspicions were pricked by the empty kerosene bottles later found strewn around the site.

I have never known how to describe the place where Demi and her family - and so many of the stray dogs in the area, inhabited. Was it a forest? A jungle? It sounds strange to think that such large tracts of vegetation still exist in our urban city. At one point or another, I reckon they will all undergo redevelopment. But for now, they can still be found in secluded parts of our island. 

Unbeknownst to many, behind the quiet stillness of the trees and the dense underbrush lives a population of stray dogs eking out an existence. They are at the mercy of the erratic weather and are deprived of a regular supply of clean drinking water. On hot days, they might even have no water to speak of. They are also prone to a host of diseases such as tick fever, pythiosis (water mold infection) and a variety of skin conditions. Open wounds suffered in the wild are likely to attract maggots and can become potentially fatal. 

These dogs that live behind the shadows are kept alive with food from the stray feeders. The One Who Does Not Like To Be Named On Cyberspace - the founder and main caretaker of our shelter (let's keep him mysterious by calling him "W") is one such stray feeder. When the dogs catch sight of his vehicle, they would trail behind it, their tails wagging deliriously with joy. W would then bring his vehicle to a stop by the side and whip out the lunch boxes he had painstakingly prepared for each of them.

Despite their very apparent excitement to see W, these intelligent dogs continue to shy away from touch. Every time we took a step forward, they would take a step back. Whenever there was sudden movement, they would immediately scramble for cover. 

One of these stray dogs whom we fed was known to us as "Shy". Towards the end of 2013, Shy became pregnant and disappeared from the pack. When she finally re-appeared during one of W's stray feeding rounds on 28 December 2013, the load she was carrying looked visibly lighter. She must have given birth. 

One day some time later, W heard Shy barking hysterically and walked towards the direction of her barking to investigate. He stumbled across a blackened burnt site and caught sight of a brown puppy amongst the bushes. The closer he advanced, the deeper into the vegetation the puppy retreated. W decided not to pursue the puppy for fear that she would wander further into the bushes and risk being burned. 

But that was not the end of the matter. A few days later, a trio of puppies were lured into coming forward by food left by W amongst the bushes. 

One of these puppies was the brown one W had seen earlier, except this time, she had multiple burn injuries on her face and on some parts of her body. Her forehead and the skin around her eyes were burnt to a leathery hide. Her snout was crusty and her nose was bleeding. The edges of her ears were charred and bled. Chunks of fur on her body fell out, leaving bald patches here and there.  

Some puppies he could let go. Others he just could not. In this instance, W knew he had to get her. He acted fast and in one experienced swoop, managed to capture the injured puppy. 

And so that was how Demi came to us. She was sent to the vet for prompt medical attention following her rescue. We were initially afraid that the burns might have affected her sight. Thank heavens our worries were for naught. The vet gave Demi a clean bill of health.  

Demi turned out to be a confident puppy, unfazed by the new environment and the array of new faces. After the harsh start to life, she breezed along on her road to recovery. In no time at all, her skin began to heal and new fur, like seeds of hope, began to grow. 

We later rescued the rest of her siblings. There were five of them in all. As for their mother, she remained out of our reach, as much as our hearts desired to provide her with a safe harbour. 

Today, Demi is ten months old. She has a beautiful brown wavy coat and a slender frame. She is in good health. Her injuries have all but disappeared. Perhaps the only thing that hints of a harder past are the frayed edges of her ears that the burns had left behind. What unimaginable pain she must have experienced for one so small. 

Demi is a puppy with a story. 

And her story makes her beautiful. Inside and out. 

Demi's tale is far from over. She is up for adoption. She is a small-medium sized mongrel with a good temperament. Please email us at for further enquiries. 

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