A Fairy Tale Christmas

Imagine dying before he ever lived.
From the first time I laid eyes on Harry, I knew he was a special dog; strong, silent, patient, brave and fiercely loyal. He was a gentle giant. While it's almost impossible to find the right words to accurately describe the abuse and suffering Harry went through, going for weeks without food, tied to a heavy metal chain and going through the pain of cancer cells growing in his body, he took everything in his stride and accepted all that life had dealt him. Harry never gave up hope, believing that one day he would be saved. Inner strength is strengthened when we face our truths... when we acknowledge our circumstances... and despite our grim reality, we choose to keep going because within each of us, lies strength. Within strength, lies hope. Within hope, lies the power to go on.
Harry at the factory where he lived for years.
I don't know if Harry ever dreamt of a real life in a home, filled with an abundance of love and food, but I am sure all that he ever hoped for was regular meals and to be unleashed from his misery. Fate intervened and Harry had more than he could even dream of!
When our paths first crossed, I knew in my heart that my life would change, so would Harry's. Harry taught me many things, but mostly, to always have hope no matter how hard life seemed and Harry reminded me of my journey in life, to help and to give hope to the furry ones that I feel so passionately for. As an animal rescuer, albeit voluntary, I often feel for the dogs I rescue and I take full responsibility for their well-being. There are times where I feel helpless and don’t feel strong, when contributions are few; sometimes we can't find a temporary foster or our “adopt a dog” plea goes unheard, especially if they are old dogs or local cross breeds and this problem seems heightened especially when we have more than one dog in our charge. Often, at any one time, we have at least two to four dogs in foster care and the stress builds up, especially when we have to manage all this on top of holding full time jobs.
This is how gorgeous Harry looks now.
Each dog we rescue is a gift. Harry had nothing in his life yet he trudged on, believing that his fate would one day change and change it did. Over the years in animal rescue, I have never dared hope for too much for the rescued dogs and have always prided myself on being realistic and practical when it comes to making decisions on their behalf. If we could save them, cure and feed them, that was more than any street dog could ask for. This doesn’t mean we don’t help them wholeheartedly. Every dog that crosses our paths, we give them our all.
Imagine having the power to make a dog smile.
We always do our best within our limitations and after they have recuperated, we release them back to the streets. Not all street dogs can be rehomed; most treasure their freedom on the streets and we continue to care for them by feeding them, monitoring their health, taking them to the vets if need be, and also applying Frontline on them. All this would not be possible if not for the kind hearted animal lovers who faithfully support the work we do. We would never be able to help an iota of the dogs we have helped, if not for all the friends who have been there for us since HOPE started in July 2011.
Knowing Harry evoked a lot of feelings in me, simply because I love him as a person, for his silent strength and courage. In the earlier days, it saddened me tremendously when the Drs had given him only a week or two to live and advised us to put him down. All we ever wanted for Harry was to wipe away the pain in his heart.
We were planning to return Harry to his factory and had worked out shifts with various volunteers to check on him and feed him daily but fortunately that never materialized. Hailey, my savior, had been reading and following Harry’s story since his initial rescue and feeling so much for him, offered to foster him. FOSTER – that word rang sweetly in my ears. Over the months that Hailey had cared for Harry, as a foster, she never once believed that he would leave us any time soon. It has been 4 months and Harry is still very much alive although his lungs are filling with fluids and he is coughing a lot more. He pants and has difficulty breathing. He spends his days sleeping in the rooms or lazing in the hall, soaking in the love that the family has for him. Hailey and Bryan faithfully take Harry to all his vet appointments and have helped us by sponsoring his vet bills, which don’t come cheap as Harry has chemo jabs as well.
Having sunshine in his life
Harry's story gives us hope that no matter how low our lives are, we don't give up; that if a dog who has had death knock on his door a few times can find love and a family, then we must persist, for the sake of all the other dogs out there who continue to have that glimmer of hope, waiting for us to give them a better life.
Words could never express how grateful we are to Hailey and Bryan who openly welcomed Harry into their lives and loved him wholeheartedly. It is dogs like Harry that make our hard work all worthwhile and for the remaining time that Harry has on earth, he is gifted with a little piece of Heaven.
Let us give hope and joy to all the abandoned unloved pets and street dogs that long for a warm meal, some love and a shelter from the storm, not just at Christmas time but every time; if only everyone could just give a little of themselves . . . .
Harry has been adopted by Hailey and Bryan!!

The team at HOPE wishes one and all a Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year. May we continue with the spirit of giving. Love from Fiona.
The article below is contributed by Hailey and Bryan, Harry's Mommy and Daddy.
21 August 2011 …. Someone special entered my husband's & my life.
It will be 4 months since Harry became part of our family, which includes 3 of our companions Snoopy, Rascal and Angel. Recently, we added a kitty, Abby.
Harry and his new sibling, Abby
Looking at Harry today, it is so easy to forget that for many years, he had never felt warmth and love or had a home. He spent his life chained outside a factory, subject to the elements of nature. It was a life of survival, not just with the elements, but probably from other dogs and perhaps cruel jibes from humans. He ate as and when he could find food, discards mainly, and drank whatever water that was available along the way, slept in the sweltering heat or cold of the night. Alone. Dirty. Hungry. Sick.
That he survived for so long on his own is testimony of his tenacity and his unwavering will to survive.
Harry was weak and frail when he first came into our lives. His coat barely covered his bones. He now eats 3 hearty meals a day. His favourite …. small little animal shaped cookies. He has since put on some weight. He is so good looking now.
Harry enjoys walking around the Christmas tree!
Harry’s favourite snoozing place is our room. He sleeps most of the time, perhaps to make up for lost time. And oh yes… he loves going to our small garden to stick his head into the foliage. For some reason, Snoopy, Rascal, Angel and Abby would leave Harry in peace. Perhaps, they are all more compassionate, sensitive and knowing than us. Perhaps they know that Harry just needs a little more time to come out of his shell. For now, they understand he just needs rest, sustenance and love.
Harry's very first Christmas
Harry is sweet and gentle. He demands little. We have his trust now. It is a special relationship between Harry and us. It is a joy every day for us to see Harry live another day. For Harry, he has finally found a home that is filled with love, cuddles, hugs and pats. Where he won't have to worry about having nothing to eat or drink or a warm place to sleep.
Hailey and darling Harry
Harry has gotten his 4th chemo jab in October and it seems he may no longer need more. We do not know how long he could be with us … It’s too little too late we are told. But like Harry, we harbour the hope that it isn't.
Harry is happy now and for us, each day, with him in our lives, is a blessing.
Photographs courtesy of Leslie Kok and Hailey Mak.