Holly - A Tad Too Late

It was during one of our factory rounds that we were told about the puppy.The security guard at one of the factories mentioned offhand of an injured puppy he saw, claiming that it had been attacked by its own mother. We tried looking for the puppy but the guard claimed that the wound had recovered and we didn't have to worry. But worry we did and we couldn't keep the puppy off our minds so we went back over a week later to look for it. Armed with industrial sized torch lights and a lot of gumption, a bunch of the volunteers combed the area looking for her. We finally found her, cold and scared, hiding under a pile of metal sheets and planks. She had a huge gaping wound on the back of her neck but we couldn't reach her at all, as much as we tried calling out to her.

Bitten by bigger dogs

One of our volunteers, Fiona, couldn't sleep all night thinking about the injured puppy so she went back alone the next day. Armed with her usual tools of trade; a pet carrier, dog leash, food and towels, she was determined to rescue the puppy and bring her to a vet before it was too late. She headed back to the same factory and found 6 other puppies, but the injured puppy was nowhere to be seen. When the puppies saw Fiona, they came running out and jumped on Fiona as excited puppies tend to. No more than 3 months old, the puppies ate the food that Fiona fed them. She asked one of the factory workers if he had seen any injured puppies but he said he had not seen her for two days. 

Holly's siblings (we were just informed by the workers that the left black pup just passed away this evening, they found him under a car)

With the worker's help, the both of them searched the compound, looking underneath heaps of wood and metal, where injured scared animals tend to hide when they are in great pain. It was with some luck that they finally found the puppy hiding under a stack of metal beams. They tried to coax the puppy out by gently nudging her with a stick but the puppy was afraid, not realising that these were people who were trying to help her, not injure her further. The puppy squealed and barked aggressively at the both of them and refused to come out. Both worker and Fiona squatted there at wit's end, staring at the puppy while it stared back with fearful eyes.

Just when she thought that the coast was clear, the puppy tried to make a run for it. She dashed out and went under another set of metal sheets. This time, Fiona blocked the puppy in with wooden planks, leaving it only one way out, towards her. By then a group of wokers had gathered to watch the commotion. Some stepped in to help Fiona keep an eye on the puppy in case it tried to run out again. The puppy was as determined to escape as Fiona was to rescue it. Every time it stuck its head out, Fiona would try to grab the puppy with a towel but with no success as the puppy was all teeth. Puppy teeth can be really sharp but even though she tried to bite Fiona a couple of times, she didn't manage to draw blood. A feisty little pup she was.

They decided to try a different tactic instead. Since the puppy couldn't be lured out, they would try to nudge the puppy out from under the beams instead. With the workers gently prodding her towards Fiona, Fiona waited for the moment when the puppy stuck its head out to slip a leash over her head. For a good 45 minutes, they kept trying and trying. Sometimes the leash slipped off the tiny puppy. Other times the puppy would fight back and hide back under the beams. It was harder than playing the UFO catcher machine. 

It slowly became a battle of wills, Fiona vs the puppy. But Fiona was all heart and determination. She was not about to give up on the puppy when she was THIS close to rescuing it. At the very last moment, the leash caught itself around the puppy's front leg and Fiona jumped on the opportunity and tightened it. She quickly pulled the puppy out, scooped her up and placed her into the carrier. In a blink of an eye it was done. Everybody heaved a sigh of relief. 

Such a sad life for a young pup

The puppy was still fighting when Fiona loaded the carrier into her van, barking madly and even tried to chew her way out of the carrier. This went on for a good 5 minutes before it suddenly went silent at the back. Worried, Fiona turned to look behind her and found the puppy sound asleep in the carrier. It was as if she decided, "why fight it? I'm going to take a nap."

On the way to the vet
In great pain and fear

Like most of our rescue cases, the puppy's wounds were severely infected. The stench of her maggot infested wound, coupled with the blood, was nauseating in the afternoon heat. The poor puppy must have endured more than a week of pain, with the maggots crawling in the blood, like a bubbling volcano about to explode. 

Severe maggots infestation
Maggots plucked from Holly's wound

At the vet, they weighed the puppy at 5kg and was estimated to be about 3 months old. When they tried to take her out of the carrier, the puppy tried to fight her way out of the caring embrace of the vet and the clinic assistants, growling and biting at anyone who got near her. 

Upon closer inspection of her wound, her wound was upsettingly huge, especially for a puppy her size. To see something so painful and deep on such a tiny little body was heartbreaking. Not only was this the youngest puppy we ever rescued with such a wound, it was also the first time we had a female dog with such a wound, and a wound with the worst maggot infestation ever. Even though she was fighting everyone who was trying to help her, Fiona could see the fear in her eyes and a quiet wish that someone would take the pain away. 

Huge wound on a small dog

The vet had to sedate the puppy to remove hundreds of maggots from her wound. By the time vet was done, it was late and the clinic was closing so Fiona left for the night. The next morning the vet called to say the puppy's poop had a funny colour and was pasty looking. Lab tests showed that the little one had whip worms and hook worms. 

Whip worms are parasitic worms that live in the large intestine, causing parasitic infection primarily in the tissue of the cecum, appendix, colon and rectum.  The whipworm is named as such as it looks like a whip with wider "handles" at the posterior end. Whipworms develop when a dog swallows whipworm eggs, passed from an infected dog. Symptoms may include diarrhea, anemia, and dehydration.

Hook worms are parasitic worms that live in the small intestine of its host, which may be a mammal such as a dog, cat, or human. These worms hook onto the insides of the intestines and suck blood voraciously and damage the mucosa (lining of the organ). The most significant risk of hookworm infection is anemia, secondary to loss of iron and protein in the gut. This explained why the puppy was all skin and bones when Fiona rescued her. 

Fiona named the puppy Holly but the puppy did not live long. Two days after the rescue, Holly passed away in her sleep. The vet tech found her dead by the time they got in for work. Such a hard life at so tender an age. It was then that Fiona found out that the puppy had Parvo Virus. She returned to the factory to try to take all the puppies there for tests and get them vaccinated so they won't get sick and die, the way Holly did.

Holly passed away 2 days after she was rescued
She was found dead when the clinic staff came to work

When Fiona arrived at the factory, one of the workers informed her that one of Holly's brothers just passed away a few hours before she got there. When she saw the body, rigor mortis had already set in. They tried to catch the remaining 4 puppies that she met the first day, but they could only catch one, a black female pup that they named Gorgeous.

Holly's sibling who died shortly just before Fiona arrived

Gorgeous is a friendly puppy. She played with the workers every day as they also feed her with food that the HOPE volunteers provided. Since she was the only puppy Fiona managed to find, she brought Gorgeous to the vet to test her for parvo. The test came back negative but she was placed in isolation as a precaution for another 2 weeks before it was confirmed again that she was clear of parvo. 

Holly's sister - Gorgeous the puppy

Gorgeous is as her name describes her, a beautiful black puppy who is calm, well-behaved and very sweet. She loves affection and will gaze at you with her soulful eyes until you pat her on her head, her tail thumping against the ground with happiness. She is currently boarding at a pet shop as we do not have anyone to foster or adopt her and give her a loving home. 

For those of you who came by our Kembangan pet event would have met Gorgeous, the striking black beauty who sat quietly by her handler and watched excitedly as anyone came up to pat her. For those who missed the chance, do let us know if you want to meet Gorgeous and you will understand why she is thus named so.

Gorgeous, the little black beauty

Meanwhile Fiona will continue searching the grounds for the remaining puppies, to save them and bring them to the vet for checks before its too late; the way it was too late for Holly. It is a very tough and sad life for the strays, who live day by day in dismal conditions. They do not get a regular supply of food and have to scavenge for themselves, sometimes going for days starving, other times fighting with other dogs for what little there is to find. Strays find whatever shelter they can. WIth the monsoon season upon us, they hide under makeshift tents or loosely piled planks and try to wait out the rain, lying on the wet ground. Shivering and cold. 

Holly's brother (just passed on today)
Their home and playground
Wee little pups who knows not the suffering that awaits them

Those that survive the storms are the lucky ones. That is if they don't get into a fight with another stray and get wounded. Or get infected with parvo or worms, that if left untreated, will lead to certain death. 

I watch these dogs with a heavy heart. Dogs do not ask for much except for a full belly, a warm hearth and somewhere safe where they can rest their heads at night. If they are lucky, they get to live with a loving family whom they can show their undying love and loyalty to, like any dog would. How is it that such simple creatures can't even get a simple life like that?

The next time you duck out of a heavy storm, or are sitting nice and dry at home with the rain pouring down outside, think of the strays who are also sitting out there, waiting for the rain to go away. 

We can't save Holly but we can still save Gorgeous. Please give her a home and a fate different from that of her unfortunate dead siblings. (To adopt Gorgeous, please email alicia@hopedogrescue.org)

Written by Elaine Quek