Saturday, May 7, 2016

Way back into love

Not too long ago, one of our volunteers randomly bumped into Vicky and her owner. Vicky was a beautiful, slender and good-natured dog who boarded with Gentle Paws for a short while about four or five years back. 

When Vicky's photo was shared in our internal group chat, few recognised her. Most of the volunteers in the group were relatively new. But the lack of recognition was also due in part to the fact that we have had too many dogs under our care the past 6 years. I remember hesitating for a split second before something in my mind clicked and I identified Vicky triumphantly.

This little episode got me thinking that it was perhaps time that someone sat down to document all the dogs who were once part of the Gentle Paws family. It didn't matter whether they had been on a short stay, took up a long term residence or were with us on a paid boarding basis. Everyone of them helped create the Gentle Paws of today. 

We no longer take in dogs on a boarding basis. But once upon a time, we were dependent on boarding fees for our monthly payment of rent. When our finances stabilised, we began to "adopt" the dogs who boarded with us on a long term basis. Eventually, the number of dogs on paid boarding at Gentle Paws dwindled to zero. The majority of them found good homes over the years.

Putting together the whole video was like taking a long stroll down memory lane. It was wonderfully nostalgic. But of course, it was also time consuming and tedious. I had to painstakingly unearth the photos of each and every dog and label them. Ironically, it was more difficult for me to find photos of the newer dogs than the older ones. Many of the dogs rescued this year were puppies who had the good fortune to be with us for a fleeting few days before they were adopted. There were precious few good photos of them.

There were also a few dogs who simply weren't featured in many photos at all. This required a rather extensive search for their photos through my entire database, which includes our photographers' Facebook albums and my own iPhoto collection. Many of the volunteers shared photos via WhatsApp which I saved in my iPhone library throughout the years. Imagine the terrible fright I got when my library mysteriously disappeared one day. Thankfully, I managed to retrieve it and quickly saved everything into an external drive before it happened again - and it did. 

Using all the photographs, I made a simple slideshow video and threw in some captions. It cost me a few extra winks of sleep and I often went to work groggy after working on the video the night before. I guess the motivation behind this is the recognition that memories might die, but the things that we create and leave behind us - will not. 

So lest we start to forget down the road, we can always re-watch this ten minute video I put together once upon a time and reminisce. My participation in the shelter is now largely reduced. Watching this teleports me back to those simple years when we slogged together toward the uncomplicated goal of building a makeshift home for the dogs - from nothing at all. 

Be warned that the dogs' photos will flash past you very quickly in the video. Because of the sheer number of dogs there is to cover, a second's appearance is all each of them have got. The video is already a lengthy ten minutes as it is. Imagine how much longer it might be if I had my way!

An outsider watching this will probably not think very much of it at all. He might even get a little bored with the faces of all those unfamiliar dogs gazing back at him. But if you were once a part of the Gentle Paws journey, then this video might mean something special to you. Watch - and let yourself be transported back into those dreamy days of yesteryear.  


  1. Featuring all 220 dogs in a mere 10mins video takes tremendous effort and commitment. Beautiful video... I must say the video strike a cord in me.

    I have just recently joined in the ranks of volunteers at GP&F. Though it has only been a short 5 weekends, I must say I have enjoyed every minute spent at the shelter. It is certainly true that if we stay true to the furkids, they will eventually open themselves to us the volunteers be it in a big way or small. I will continue to put in the effort and time to care for these furkids in whatever ways I can.

    Thank you GP&F for letting me be part of the big family. :)

  2. Thank you for putting together this heartwarming video. Seeing photos of the dogs, past and present, really tugs at my heartstrings. Really loved the texts in between too.

  3. It seems you love animals very much :)

  4. I only knew about your shelter on Saturday night when I met an adopter with a dog from Gentle Paws. I logged on and read the story about Caspian. He sounds like my curent rescue so your blog helped me to see my dog from another perspective. He has been a handful few months after I adopted him from a private rescuer when he was only 2 months old. Thank you for sharing Caspian's story. I teared when I read that. All the dogs featured on your video look remarkably happy and so well taken care of. They are beautiful and must have gorgeous souls!

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