Matthieu Smiles Again (4th Update)

Matthieu’s story touched, and broke, many hearts. His courage and strength to survive was seen when he was injured and paralyzed from the waist down, yet he survived by hiding under a lorry for two weeks before Mr Aziz informed us of his plight and we went down to save him.

Matthieu stayed at The Animal Doctors for three months, although he was due for discharge after just a few weeks, simply because we could not find someone to foster him. Many people felt sorry for him, but no one had come forth to offer him a temporary home to recover till he was ready for his spinal surgery. He had ringworms and that needed to clear before he could undergo the surgical procedure, yet staying at the clinic wasn’t helping. His condition deteriorated, the ringworms didn’t go away and poor Matthieu became an old cranky dog. He was temperamental, he bit his masseuse and he howled in his cage. Despite all that, we loved him and understood what he was going through. Mr Aziz had shared with us that Matthieu had lived in his factory as an alpha dog. He was always the first to eat and when he ate, no other dogs went near; they waited patiently till he was done. Matthieu was the leader of the pack, a dog used to freedom and fresh air yet now he was cooped up 24/7 in a cage for three months, putting up with the barking and mewing of other smaller creatures he had never ever seen before. From being mobile, he now had to drag himself around . . .  . .anyone in that situation would feel like biting and fighting back too. Our volunteers took turns to take him out for walks and to sit outside the clinic with him, chatting for hours while Matthieu lay outside and fell asleep to their droning. However, these outings were soon limited by the vets as Matthieu had ringworms and they were concerned it would pass on to the other pets. Poor Matthieu was once again confined to his cage.

Then a week back, an angel came into our lives; Bee Yan called and offered to foster Matthieu temporarily till his ringworm cleared and he goes for his surgery. Temporary? That was good enough for us! We arranged for his discharge and Leslie and Marion went down to transport Matthieu to his new foster home. Matthieu was elated with his very own car porch! Freedom to move about, a view of the garden, sunshine and fresh air! We can’t thank Bee Yan enough for offering Matthieu temporary boarding and all the extra work she and her family have put into caring for him. With his new place, our volunteers are now able to visit Matthieu almost daily to exercise and walk him around the garden, sit and chat with him and he had his very first bath in almost 10 years!
Elated at having his very own car porch
Jin Hui and Leslie giving Matthieu his very first bath!

Matthieu thanks all the volunteers who have taken turns to deliver food to him religiously for the past 3 months. He has finally put on some weight.
Eyes that show courage and resilience
Matthieu has now been cleared of the ringworms but the poor boy seems to be riddled with one health issue after another. Foster Bee Yan noticed that his pee had fresh blood in it, although previously his pee was a reddish liquid that was diluted. So Leslie and Marion took Matthieu back to The Animal Doctors for a check. It was a bittersweet reunion at The Animal Doctors. Matthieu dragged himself around the clinic reception saying hello to all the staff who had cared for him, receiving loving pats in return.
Watch Matthieu's journey. He has come a long way:

The vet said she would treat Matthieu for Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and see if the blood clears within two weeks. If it doesn’t, then she would need to carry out an ultrasound. The vet was concerned it would be something cancerous but we won’t be thinking about that for now.
Once again his surgery needs to be postponed.
I have been asked many times, not just with Matthieu, but with our other rescue dogs as well, why didn’t you put them down? My answer is, why should I? They are not in pain or suffering, they are eating well and relatively happy. Look at Matthieu today. Look at that cheeky grin on his face! Do you think he was ready to give up on life? If he was, he would not have hung on for two weeks, waiting for help to come. Would you have been able to put a dog down, knowing he had spent 10 rough years on the road, surviving unthinkable hardship and when help finally came along, to take the dog to the vet only to end his life? I am incapable of such an action. I would have thought, after 10 years of hardship, he has finally been saved, let’s give him a few good remaining years if we can.
Look at that cheeky grin and how happy he is to be alive! How could I possibly have put him down?

This doesn’t mean we have not put dogs down. We have. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t try to save the world but we do try to save them within our means, albeit a hand to mouth existence. People tell us this isn’t the way to go, we can’t survive on a hand to mouth existence, but we have come thus far and if I have to do it over again, without a doubt, I will. We are blessed that we work with understanding vets who allow us credit and know that we will pay up when we can afford to. 

Matthieu has suffered 10 long years, living his life as a stray, not knowing what tomorrow had in store for him. He doesn’t ask for much, just a garden to move about without hurting himself and a family to show him that his 10 years of waiting . . . struggling . . .is finally over.
Priceless smile!
Today when I visited Matthieu at his foster home, for the very first time since his rescue. . . .  .I saw him wag his tail. No amount of money can buy that wag!
To adopt Matthieu, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org
Video credits : Leslie Kok. Matthieu’s maids in waiting : Sherry, Leslie, Lisa, Buven, Jin Hui, Marion and Isabelle.


Mini Cooper's Update

It has been a month since Cooper's surgery. Since his story was published, we have been getting lots of emails enquiring about his wellbeing and we are extremely heartened by that. 

Cooper is now with foster, Sandra, who gives him love and care in every way she can. Sandra saw Cooper at the vet and called us immediately requesting to foster him. She had fallen in love with him at first sight. But that's Cooper. He has that effect on everyone. You only have to meet him once to be irresistibly drawn by him.

Super cute!

Able to stand and walk although his legs are not very strong

A little wobbly on his legs
He looks thin because he should not put on too much weight for now
Under the loving care of Sandra, Cooper is getting stronger day by day. Although he is able to walk now, he is still supposed to get cage rest for another month and not exert himself too much. And for this, Sandra bought him a kids stroller from the Salvation Army to push him around when the family goes for walks so that he does not feel left out!

A gift from Cooper when we visited him - a baby tooth!
Lisa taking Cooper for a walk at the park

Enjoying his outing. Cooper is rather calm for a puppy
At Cooper's first review, three weeks after the surgery, Dr Landon said that Cooper’s legs are healing although it would take some months before he sees the full outcome of the surgery. We felt that Cooper’s legs seemed to be at an awkward angle and were concerned that in the long run, it might be affected by wear and tear. It is still early days as it has only been a few weeks after his surgery. However, the plan for Cooper now is to monitor him for another two months and if his legs still look awkward, he may need to undergo one final surgery to break his bones and fuse it back the proper way. This would only be the last resort as we definitely don't want him to go through more pain. This poor boy has already suffered enough in his short 6 months life span than what most dogs had gone through in their entire lives.

Two days back, Cooper was sterilized and received his second vaccination. We thank Sandra for sponsoring the procedure. While Cooper was under general anesthesia, he had an xray on his legs. Dr Landon has seen the second set of xrays and has mentioned to give it another two months before he re-examines Cooper. Cooper still has mild ringworms and as soon as this clears, will undergo hydrotherapy to strengthen his muscles. 
Mini Gorgeous

Waiting at the Vet

He is now able to bear weight on both legs although his left leg is not as good as we would like it to be
Walking on his own
Sandra has shared with us that Cooper is getting stronger in both of his back legs and is now able to sleep on both sides, which he was not able to do previously. He is no longer in need of pain relief tablets and is in much brighter spirits. He is a curious little puppy and is just starting to enjoy his new lease on life now. Sandra is giving Cooper basic obedience training, and enjoys watching him grow into a confident dog. Cooper is now toilet trained, roams the house freely, gets on terrifically with the family dog, as well as the children at home. 
Cooper and his foster, Sandra

At his foster home

Standing quite well and wagging tail
Sitting comfortably for long periods of time

Enjoying his belated X'mas presents from Sandra

Chewing to his heart's content!

Pretty boy
Please give me a home …...
We would like to thank everyone that had helped with Cooper’s surgical fee. We are also very thankful to Sandra and her family for fostering Cooper and showering him with so much love, something he had never experienced before.
Should you wish to give Cooper his forever home, please email alicia@hopedogrescue.org 
Cooper is a darling to have as part of your family; he has a sweet disposition, is obedient, a fast learner, gets on well with dogs and loves children. What more could you ask for in a puppy?

Written by Esther Low. Photographs courtesy of Sandra.


Calrose's Happy Ending

One thing that has changed since I started volunteering with HOPE is how I look at the stray dogs that roam the streets. In the past, I might walk past a street dog with only a fleeting glance, I now find myself sizing up the health and well-being of the dogs I occasionally encounter. And it’s because of dogs like Calrose.

Calrose is a Shih Tzu cross that someone spotted crossing the road and quickly grabbed before he got hit by a car. On closer inspection, it turned out that Calrose is blind and could not see where he was going, and he was shivering and extremely scared. So the kind passerby called HOPE for help.

Calrose at the vet

We brought him to a vet for a full check-up. In the car on the way to the vet, Calrose was very frightened and shivered non-stop. Perhaps he had a nasty experience in a car before, or was abandoned after a car ride? Since he was also blind, it could have been very frightening for him to be taken into the unknown.

At the clinic, the doctor confirmed that he was, sadly, totally blind from cataracts that had gone untreated. He had hundreds of ticks swarming all over his body and his body was covered with sores from tick bites, so he had to be shaved. His tick infestation was so bad that it took three rounds of de-ticking to get rid of everything.

Tick bites all over his body

In addition, his teeth were rotten and his breath was terrible. Fiona carried him tightly and told him everything would be alright, and this seemed to calm him down somewhat. He stopped shivering, and even licked Fiona’s face many times – his bad breath was all over her face but she didn’t mind.

Apart from the ticks, the cataracts and his rotten teeth, Calrose turned out to be in reasonably good health given his age – he is estimated to be about 11 to 12 years old. His sense of smell is very strong, perhaps to compensate for his loss of sight.

There were crystals found in his urine. This is sometimes caused by diet or it may sometimes indicate the presence of bladder stones, and there has also been evidence that it could be genetic and more common in some breeds than others. Treatment depends on the crystal type – some can be dissolved by taking certain solutions, and even flushed out by drinking lots of water, while larger crystals may require surgery.

Calrose as he is today!

Initially, during his foster period, he had severe separation anxiety and would cry and panic whenever he was left alone. Turning on the television or radio made no difference to him as what he needed was human warmth.

However, Calrose has since been adopted into a loving family. These days he is much better, gets on well with dogs and humans and despite his own sorry state, is happy and easygoing. When night falls, he needs to sleep beside a person, to feel that warmth, comfort and assurance that he will no longer be abandoned.

Calrose and his new family (Straits Times, 5 January 2013) 

Straits Times, 12 January, 2013

Rescuing him from the streets has made a whole world of difference for him, and we were glad to see him find a home, which is surely what he wished for when we found him wandering around blindly, driven to despair by ticks and fear, wondering where his next meal would come from.

And now, when I see a stray dog wondering by, I wonder what they go through and whether there’s a happy ending waiting for them, some day.

HOPE thanks SB and family for loving Calrose.

To adopt a dog from HOPE, please email sherry@hopedogrescue.org

Story by Lin Yan Qin 


Prince's Updates. Skeleton No More

For those of you who have been following the story of Prince closely, here’s what has been happening with our little boy.

Happy Prince
Prince is doing remarkably well, having been adopted by the very kind Lily and Peter. They have taken such good care of him that he has managed to put on more weight and has turned into a cute round dog, quite unimaginable if you have seen the earlier photos of him when we first found him! He now behaves like any other happy dog; one that loves to eat, play and seek affection from the people around him. He even steals food when he thinks no one is looking, and makes puppy eyes at anyone that may give him a treat.

Prince when he was first rescued

With doting mummy, Lily

Prince is very much loved now! :)
Prince made a guest appearance in October where he spent an afternoon at Pets’ Day Out, an event co-organised by Henderson CC and HOPE Dog Rescue. As always, Prince quickly became the centre of attention as people gathered around him to say hello to the tough little guy who has fought hard for a better life. Many have turned up just to catch a glimpse of our little star, heartened to see for themselves the recovery that Prince has made.

Razor TV was on hand at the event to speak to Prince’s mommy, Lily. She described the change Prince went through from when she first fostered him, weak and meek, to the happy frisky dog you see today. Lily was happy to state that Prince now sleeps like a normal dog, unlike before when he only knew how to slept upright in an unnatural position.

Watch the video of Prince and Lily here:

There are many dogs out there like Prince who have been abandoned and are looking for a home. Prince, whom we suspect used to lead the life of a breeding dog, narrowly escaped a cruel lonely ending when we found him in time, and fostered him back to health. If it weren’t for kind-hearted people who had alerted us of his plight, Prince wouldn’t have had that second chance to learn what it is like to be loved like a dog should.

The next time you are looking for a dog, or know someone who is looking for one, do consider adopting instead of buying. There are too many helpless dogs out there looking for someone who can give him the home he deserves. Like some of the dog owners present at Pets’ Day Out, they too understand it is better to adopt than to buy.

Watch the video by Razor TV, of some of the adopted dogs have been given a new lease of life here:

Here at HOPE, we are delighted to see how well Prince is doing. Prince is what gives us hope to continue doing what we do to save other dogs. He is now featured in our inaugural HOPE 2013 calendar as one of our star dogs! Look at how happy he is! (Seen here with Saffie, a 10 year old Bichon Frise that was given up by her family.)

Prince has been doing really well. He has been recently vaccinated and sterilised. He is finally healthy enough to be taken off steroid medication that he had been on since he was first rescued. His blood count has stabilized enough for him to be able to go under general anesthesia for his dental work and sterilisation. Prince has since recovered from that and is back to his usual cheeky self!

Like all our rescue cases, we couldn't have done it alone, without all your love and support. Thank you everyone who have made the difference in the little Prince's life. 

Keen to read more about Prince? Read the story here on Yahoo News.


Fat Sisters' Lives In Danger

Updated on 12 Jan 2013. Fat Sister Black has passed on from the deadly distemper virus. In the last two weeks we have been going to visit and feed her, waiting and calling out her name but she never appeared. We suspected she was gone . . . . this morning I finally spoke to a factory worker who knows Fat Sister Black and he mentioned she had been sick from the same virus that had claimed the lives of many dogs along that stretch. I was terribly upset that he did not call me, I would have rushed down to take her to the vet, to try and save her life. Now she is gone . . . .I hope, to a better place, where she no longer needs to worry about love, food and shelter. 5 years I have known this cute fat sister . . . feeding will never be the same without her running up to greet me and my team when our cars pull up. Such is the harsh reality of working with strays, they are unprotected from the harsh elements. 

Her sister, Fat Girl Brown is due for discharge today and has nowhere to go. We can't return her to the streets lest she suffers the same fate as her sister. Will someone foster or adopt Fat Girl Brown? She is sweet and affectionate and is no longer sick. 

How do I tell her that her sister and best friend is gone, the only family she had known . . .  .perhaps she already knows . .  .

Our weekly feed-the-strays session will never be as fun without Fat Girl Brown and Fat Sister Black, the two lovely, bubbly and pudgy sisters whom we have fed since they were just four months old. Years have passed, I’ve matured a little, gotten tubby, and so have they. The two sisters are now five years old.

This is their home on the streets, where they have lived for the past 5 years
It is always a heartwarming sight to see these two tubby sisters running out in harmony to greet us whenever our cars pull up along the sidewalk, near the factory they lived in. They will jump around in delight without fail, demanding for a pat and a hug. 
Fat Girl Brown

The fat sisters enjoying their weekly pat pat sessions from our volunteers

Rina and the fat sisters

Lisa and the fat sisters. As you can see, this is their usual routine every week!

Living with Fat Girl Brown and Fat Sister Black are two male dogs: a well-built Gong Gong, and a smaller dog, light brown in colour, whose name we are unsure of. The four of them have been living and playing together in peace for around more than two years now.

However, in recent months, we have witnessed Gong Gong and Fat Sister Black breaking into fights. Sometimes it was over food, other times it was completely arbitrary. We didn’t take any action since none of them got hurt in the process, and it is natural for dogs – strays or domestics – to establish a pecking order within the community they lived in.

Regrettably, a factory worker called us two weeks back to report a fighting case between Gong Gong and Fat Sister Black, leaving Gong Gong with a few superficial puncture wounds that weren’t too serious, and poor Fat Sister Black with over 20 puncture wounds around her neck. She was trembling in fear and pain when our volunteers Nick, Iris, Lisa and Fiona found her hiding under a lorry. We took her to the vet where she was treated and warded for the next eight days.

Fat Sister Black arriving at the vet

Puncture holes

Numerous puncture holes

The challenge with injured strays is that it is always difficult to identify a person to help medicate them. More often than not, their wounds become so ghastly infected it has to be operated on causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs.

After eight days of separation from her sister, Fat Girl Brown sensed Fat Sister Black was home and dashed out in excitement to welcome her sister. It was also during then we caught Fat Girl Brown coughing and decided we should send her for a checkup, for which she was diagnosed with kennel cough and was warded for a night.

Fat Girl Brown at the vet

Feeling rather down

It shocked us to know she had distemper

Fat Girl Brown had diarrhea and bloody stools that night and we thought we might as well test her for parvo and distemper. To our shock, she was tested positive for distemper. Cough is a symptom of distemper, and it is frustrating she did not portray other visible signs and symptoms, which could have triggered our alarm bells earlier.

By now, many would have known canine distemper is a highly fatal and transmissible disease. Fat Girl Brown was immediately warded in isolation, while we began surveying the surroundings. We investigated the row of factories nearby and spoke to various workers and were told some dogs had died recently – a sign that parvo and distemper has already spread to other areas.

Since then, we have been in a hectic rush, working around the clock and against time, to find, catch and transport neighbouring dogs to the vet for testing and vaccination. However, no matter how quick we act, more dogs have departed from our world. Some passed on at the vets while some died under the trucks. It has been depressing to retrieve the cold, hardened bodies ever so often.

Fortunately, Fat Girl Brown’s medical results from the re-test proved negative for distemper after living in isolation for over a week. Lucky for her, the virus didn’t reach her nerves so she did not display any neurological signs unlike Babu.

Fat Girl Brown is now ready to be discharged from the vet but we cannot send her back to the factory. She is prone to re-contracting distemper again and may not be as lucky to escape death a second time. The boarding kennels are full and she had to be isolated for one week before vaccination.

She has been tested negative for distemper, free from heartworm and tick fever. She will be microchipped and vaccinated today. We would feel awful putting her back at the factory and have decided to find her a good home. If only you would meet her, you would realize she is the most easy going and friendly street dog you would ever meet. She wags her bum and loves playing, is very affectionate and easy to manage. Her only vice, chewing through leashes when she is bored; she has broken 4 in the past 10 days. Other than that, she is an absolute sweetie.

Feeling much better and looking happier!

Please help us in saving Fat Girl Brown and her community. Should you be interested in fostering or adopting her, email us at fiona@hopedogrescue.org

Five year old Fat Girl Brown is sweet, playful and submissive and we guarantee you it will be love at first sight!

Written by Claire Chai on Fiona’s behalf