The Little Wanderer (A Senior Silky Terrier)

Is it true that people abandon their dogs only when they're old, sickly and has health problems? Or do they abandon their dogs when they tire of them, regardless of age? From our experience in dog rescue, we feel that people abandon their pets for many reasons.

A teenager, Zoey, spotted a silky terrier standing along a pavement, looking tired and lost. Zoey happened to be there on a Sunday afternoon to attend a wake and although not a dog lover, she felt compelled to help this poor dog. She knew that had she not carried him to safety, he would have stepped on to oncoming traffic and risk being killed.

Zoey could not foster the dog and decided to call on her friend, Hui Yi, whom she knew loves dogs. Hui Yi and her boyfriend immediately rushed down to meet Zoey and they brought the dog home to clean and feed him. While bathing him, they realized that he had extremely bad skin, long overgrown nails, and looked terribly old and sad. They felt sorry for him. He was such a sweet and well-behaved dog, and was even paper trained! He walked with a slight limp and his tiny legs were swollen, possibly from walking for a long time, trying to find his way home. For a teenager who has never owned a dog, Hui Yi was extremely observant. She noticed that his ears were droopy and he kept scratching them, and she guessed he might have an ear infection. She also observed that both his eyes seemed cloudy and that perhaps he had cataracts. He probably was not abandoned for long as his fur had recently been trimmed and not really matted, save for areas around his mouth and bum area.

Hui Yi with Teddy
Being in a family that doesn’t fancy dogs, the dog was kept in the toilet all day by her father. Hui Yi couldn’t bear to see the poor dog locked up in the toilet all day but there was nothing she could do. She urgently needed to get help for him and find someone to foster him.

One Tuesday, the dog was kept in the toilet as usual. He started whining and making noises, probably because he was kept in the enclosed area for too long. Hui Yi’s father said that he was too noisy and he told her that he didn’t want to keep the dog any longer. Hui Yi panicked. She didn’t know what to do and she didn’t want to send the dog to SPCA because she had heard that for old dogs, they weren’t given very much time at SPCA if they were not adopted. Furthermore, he had a skin condition and she didn’t want to risk him being put to sleep.

Hui Yi desperately started asking around for help and finally, one of her friends gave her the contact number of a HOPE volunteer, Lisa. Her friend had come across HOPE Dog Rescue on Facebook. Having no choice but to part with the dog, Hui Yi called Lisa late at night, crying. She wanted very badly to help the dog but she was so young and without the support of her parents, she couldn’t possibly help the dog. Volunteers from HOPE told Hui Yi that they would assist her and take over the care of the dog.

The Silky Terrier was then taken to the vet by HOPE volunteers and a temporary foster was found for him. The foster has named the dog Teddy and although the new foster is also relatively young, she has the support of her mom and are happy to foster him till he finds a permanent home.

Teddy at the vet

Fear and confusion in his eyes
The foster's story:
Teddy is very well-behaved and he doesn’t bark at all. He allows me to shower him and he doesn’t fidget or try to run away. He is house trained and will wait for us to take him down for his daily walks to do his business downstairs. I have no problems with him whatsoever.

When he first came, he was a little frightened, perhaps because he was still new to the environment. But after just one day, he got really close to me and he followed me around the house. Teddy responds to me when I use my hands to ask him to ‘come’. I have a Maltese at home and Teddy gets on with her. Teddy is such a sweetheart and anybody who adopts him would be blessed to have such a darling in their family.

Teddy when he first arrived at his foster home

Settling in with his foster
Recently, we met up with Teddy’s owner near the foster’s home. When Teddy saw his owner, he didn’t even acknowledge him! Teddy’s owner claims that Teddy has been with him since the age of 2 and since Teddy is 12 now, the owner has had Teddy for 10 years! When asked why Teddy doesn’t seem to know him, the owner said that maybe because Teddy was missing for too long, which he claimed was 11 days on the day when we met him. Would a dog that has been living with you and seeing you every day for the past 10 years forget you so easily? Dogs are adorable, loyal and smart creatures and they do not forget their owners that easily.

When we told the owner that we had brought Teddy to the vet because of his bad condition – nails so long that they curled up, ear infection, limping, the owner lost his temper, said he didn’t want to pay for the vet bills and drove off! We didn’t even ask him for the money! Did he really love Teddy? We know he is the legal owner and we are obligated to return Teddy to him but how can we be assured that the family would love and care for Teddy?

Teddy's long curled up nails

Giving his nails a much-needed trim

Having his vision checked
We called the owner the following day and offered to give him a "hong bao" for letting us adopt Teddy, reminding him also that vet bills will cost more as Teddy got older. He agreed. So we met him for a second time, gave him a token sum and he gladly allowed us to "adopt" Teddy. We were absoultely elated!

Teddy has been fostered by Zoei Ong for the past 2 months and he has gained weight, been well loved and extremely happy. He is now ready to find his own permanent home and a family who can love him, care for him, devote their time to him and make him happy in his golden years.

The foster, Zoei, with Teddy

Sweet old Teddy
To adopt Teddy, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org

Name : Teddy
Breed :  Silky Terrier
Sex  :  Male
Estimated age  :  9 to 10 years old.
Health : Good health except for his failing vision and possibly hard of hearing.

Written by Zoei Ong
Photo credits Zoei Ong and Elena Lin