Ah Girl. A Tired, Lonely Soul

We first got to know about Ah Girl from a Malay lady who reported a white dog loitering at a service station. The lady’s husband was a taxi driver who frequented that area and often saw Ah Girl in the same spot. Ordinarily, he would not have paid much attention to the dog except that he observed that Ah Girl appeared to be injured as she was limping badly, and had lost an eye. Worried, he shared his observations with his wife, who decided that something had to be done to save the dog. She then contacted HOPE Dog Rescue and informed us about the dog. 

Eyes that have never seen happiness

Concerned about the welfare of Ah Girl, I contacted the Malay lady the next day and she met me so we could go to the service station together to assess Ah Girl’s condition. We found Ah Girl sprawled on the cold, hard concrete floor of a cramped storeroom, unable to move. It was a heart-wrenching sight. She had lost her left eye, probably in a previous accident, and her eye had been stitched up. Her stomach was unnaturally swollen and there were multiple wounds on her legs.  She was famished and looked sadly at us as we pondered what to do. We tried to get her to move but her legs failed her. When we tried to lift her up, she shrieked in unbearable pain, and our hearts broke at what she might be going through.
Ah Girl's home, a cramped store room
A broken right front leg, from a previous accident
An extremely distended stomach

When we spoke to the service attendants, they said that Ah Girl was about 13 years old and lived in the area around the service centre. In the day, she would typically move around on her own but would always return to the storeroom in the evenings. The attendants let her sleep there and would feed her whatever biscuits or leftover scraps they could find. Several years ago, she was involved in a car accident which led to the loss of her left eye. She had also been in another accident which broke her right front leg. The attendant remarked that Ah Girl was a good dog and didn’t bother anyone at the centre. Instead, the sweet girl was often bullied by a pack of stray dogs in the area and also abused by humans who would walk past and kick or hit her. As she was too weak to move, she would just bear the brunt of it. The storeroom was her only refuge from the harsh world outside.
Unable to move from traffic
I often wondered if dogs could commit suicide

Seeing how bad Ah Girl’s condition was, we decided that despite our limited resources, we could not refuse a dog crying for help. The next day, even on short notice, we managed to get a few of the volunteers together to rescue Ah Girl. The poor girl was too weak to put up a fight so she laid limply in our arms as we lifted her into the pet carrier. However, as we were making arrangements to take her to a vet, we were shocked to discover that Ah Girl was not a “stray” and her “owner” was a Chinese lady who ran a business nearby. Clearly, Ah Girl had been severely neglected by her owner. In fact, the owner was not even aware that Ah Girl was seriously ill. Imagine our horror when one of the employees insisted that we brought Ah Girl back to the service centre once she had been discharged. He even claimed that Ah Girl was licensed and microchipped.

Not a lot of teeth left
At the vet, blood tests and x-rays were carried out. Ah Girl’s breathing was terribly laboured and she was diagnosed with tick fever, anaemia, heart murmur and heart failure. X-rays revealed that her stomach was so distended with fluids caused by her heart failure that the vet needed to do a needle aspiration to drain out the fluids. That explained her difficulty in breathing. Despite the bloated stomach, we could feel her ribs protruding and the vet commented that she was extremely malnourished.

The nerves in her hind legs were poor, possibly from old age, past accidents or both. She was also severely arthritic. Each time she stood up, she would lose her balance and fall flat on her face, it was a sorry sight. She would then bravely pick herself up and try again. After a few rounds of struggling, she would manage to stand and she had to walk quickly, to build the momentum so she would not fall again, much like riding a bicycle.
The vet put her on a drip as she was severely dehydrated and scanned for a microchip; she had none.  
Fluids in her extremely distended stomach, caused by heart failure
The vet’s words gutted us. To hear that a dog that lived such a miserable life might have such a miserable end was heart wrenching. When we tried to cheer Ah Girl up, she just looked at us with eyes that had never experienced happiness. Even if we were to heal her ailments, there was no way we could put her back onto the streets, not when we now know that she might one day die out there alone, unwanted, unloved. While we were waiting to take her to the vet, we had witnessed many cars driving dangerously around Ah Girl as she could not stand up to move away from the dangers of the traffic.
Caring for Ah Girl is not a lot of work. She spends her days sleeping, goes for short walks 3x a day just to do her toileting. At times, she may pee in the middle of the night as she is old and unable to hold her pee for long hours. She loves cooked food and has been eating well. She needs to go to the vet for a review every two weeks, just to check her blood count and ensure no fluids in her stomach and lungs. Once that has stabilized, her visits to the vet will be lessened.
Ah Girl is such an amazing dog. Despite having been through years of neglect and abuse, she still remains friendly, gentle and trusting. We are urgently looking for someone to give Ah Girl a permanent home in her remaining years. She asks for nothing more than decent meals and a roof over her head for her to live out her golden years.
If you would like to adopt Ah Girl or make contributions to help defray the high cost of Ah Girl’s treatment, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org 
Written by Lynn Chue. Video by Esther Low. Photographs by Esther and Lisa Goh.

Note from Fiona :  One can never imagine the hard life of a stray. When I first laid eyes on Ah Girl lying in the middle of the car park, I instantly felt that she needed to be taken to safety. Thirteen years on the streets! I can’t even begin to imagine how strong she is to have survived 13 years of hardship. The tiredness of the same old daily struggles. Strays generally don’t live past 7 to 9 years old before they fall prey to illnesses and accidents but 13 years for an old arthritic dog who had heart failure, one broken leg and just one eye, she sure deserved a good loving home for all that she has gone through.
Ah Girl is one of the gentlest, sweetest strays I have ever met, undemanding and grateful. (But then again, I say that of all our rescued strays!) When I held her in my arms, I could feel her loneliness and sadness. It’s not often we come across dogs with such deep sadness. Her sadness was indescribable, a lifetime of abuse, neglect and loneliness. She didn't know what love was. Her sadness also stemmed from the fact that she was unwell, she felt her body failing her and yet there was nothing she could do, but to continue to struggle and survive day by day. As I kissed her forehead gently and promised her everything would be alright from today onwards, I felt her heave a sigh of relief. And I thought I heard her say Thank You.

Ah Girl is presently fostered by Sooh Yee and we thank her for her kindness. We thank Emilia for informing us of Ah Girl's plight, Lisa, Lynn and Esther for helping with the rescue, Lynette and Amy for giving Ah Girl her very first hair trim and bath as she was very badly matted, and volunteers who had cooked for Ah Girl daily during her stay at the vet.
We appeal to your kindness to help Ah Girl with her vet bills, as she needs to go back to the vet for reviews and to please open your heart to Ah Girl. Show her there is love and happiness after suffering for 13 years, that her struggles were worthwhile.


Discarded Dogs

Chinese New Year comes with so many perks. The endless supply of goodies, the influx of red packets from relatives, and the yearly prerogative to buy new clothes and discard old clothes! The notion of “throwing out the old and bringing in the new” is a common belief and practice for not just the Chinese but for many different races and religions, who celebrate the start of the new year in a set of fresh, new apparel to mark the end of the previous year and to welcome a new year afresh. Some people even believe that by throwing away old clothes, they send off the bad luck accumulated in the past year.

I’m not one who is sentimental of my old clothes, or any object for the matter. Unless it carries with it a particular memory which is invaluable to me, I never think twice before allocating my pre-loved items to the donation bin at the Salvation Army. After all, these items are cold, lifeless and without a heartbeat.

However, there is a discerning line between the non-living and the living; there is stark differentiation between an object/item and an animal. Abandoning animals has become an increasingly common practice for people who are bored of their pets, who find their pets a burden, and who are tired of feeding, and cleaning after them. It is shocking how people can turn their backs at their faithful companion so easily and so heartlessly. It is even more appalling to know that some people are cold-hearted enough to abandon their ill pets because they are old and sick, and no longer qualify as their playmate, read Calrose’s story here.

Just before the Lunar New Year, both Benji and Fluffy became victims to abandonment.

Benji found at Commonwealth Avenue

Fluffy - Why didn't you want me anymore?
Lily first spotted Benji at the void deck of Blk 7A Commonwealth Avenue in the afternoon. At first glance, Benji has cataracts in one eye, and cherry eye in the other eye. It doesn’t take an expert to guess that his owner may have abandoned him. Patchy fur, infected skin, and cherry eye are all suggestive of prolonged neglect and negligence by the owner. A conversation with neighbours revealed that Benji had been loitering around the void deck for at least two days.

Benji loitering at the void deck. He was terribly tired, hungry and thirsty.

Following Fiona’s advice, Lily took Benji to the vet for a thorough checkup, as we do with every dog we rescue. The results of the initial diagnosis indicated tick fever, mild anemia (a result of the tick fever) dry eyes and fungal-related skin infection, which could be contagious to dogs with a low immunity.

Benji’s second review with the vet brought some good and not so positive news. Although the vet confirmed he can see with both eyes and his blood count had improved, he was diagnosed with a severe heart condition that could pose a risk to his health if he undergoes any surgery for the cherry eye. To stay on the safe side, we put off doing the surgery that basically leaves him in discomfort whenever the lump on his eye turns dry and starts peeling. Since then, we’ve been giving him eye drops regularly to keep his eyes moist and to ease the pain.

Benji was so badly neglected, his eye had become infected

In between the hustle and bustle of other rescue work and shuttling him to the clinic, Benji was initially put up for boarding at a pet shop whose staff ended up locking him in a cage for his own safety, as he had a tendency of knocking into things – that’s certainly not an ideal living condition for him.

Itchy and inflamed. Imagine the pain and discomfort that Benji had to put up with.
Fortunately a pet shop by the name of Teddy and Doggy stepped in and very kindly offered to put Benji up for boarding for free while we find a home for him, although for his own safety, they do put in the cage when they are busy.

As Benji has little experience in interacting with doggy pals, he is still learning the ropes of socializing and behaving nicely around his doggy friends. He may appear aggressive in the presence of other dogs but this is a mild, common behavioral problem that can be easily eased if you have the patience, love and guidance to teach him how to interact and behave when he sees another friend.
As for Fluffy the terrier poodle cross, he followed a Gan Eng Seng Secondary School teacher from a bus stop into the school, loitered around the school compound for a while before a student noticed him and decided to seek help from a pet shop. The staff at the pet shop suggested that the student contact Lily instead.

Fluffy was in a reasonably good shape as compared to Benji when Lily first saw him. Apart from the horribly matted fur on his two front legs that was so badly caked up in dirt it had to be shaved down eventually, and a few loose teeth which came with age, he is generally in good health and condition.

Fluffy whisked straight to the vet after he was found

Rotting teeth

Fluffy has a sweet temperament, is good-natured and loves being in the company of humans. He loves children too! Suzalina and her family are currently fostering him, and he has grown really attached to them, especially to their four year old daughter. The only issue is that Fluffy has a dominant streak in him and will demand and fight for attention whenever the family dog is being patted. There were a few close shaves when the two dogs fought with each other for attention, so if the situation becomes unmanageable, Fluffy will need to be re-fostered. Fluffy is not aggressive, just alpha.

Fluffy's legs looked funny and we're unsure how this came about
Fluffy looked as if he had socks on
His legs had to be shaved at the vet as it was badly matted

Both Benji and Fluffy have been victims of abandonment by irresponsible owners who have had a change in heart. All we really wish for them is to be able to settle into a good home, lead a life in a reliable household, enjoy a dose of love, share a hug and receive a pat.

We may not have noticed ourselves, but our human world is rapidly changing. Beliefs and morals are fast eroding in our society to the extent that abandoning, neglecting and ill-treating of animals now comes without any sense of guilt. Humans have become selfish and forgotten the meaning of compassion and empathy. Before you know it, we’ll all be walking with our nose in the air having absolutely no regard for anyone but ourselves. We’d be kicking the homeless for blocking our paths, shoving away elderly who are holding up the crowd, and watching people die in accidents without lending a helping hand.

Let us not be sucked into this alien world without compassion. For with compassion, comes hope, comes love, and comes life.

Benji : Male, Maltese, estimated 7 to 8 years old
Fluffy : Male, Poodle / Terrier Cross, estimated 7 to 9 years old

You can help these two darlings in the following ways :

1) Help with Fluffy and / or Benji’s vet bills
2) Help with Fluffy’s sterilization and dental scaling bill – yet to be done.
3) Foster / adopt Benji
4) Adopt Fluffy

For #1 and #2, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org 

For #3 and #4, please email sherry@hopedogrescue.org

We thank everyone who has helped with Fluffy and Benji. We hope that they will soon overcome their feelings of despair, anxiety and sadness and find the true happiness that all dogs deserve.

Story written by Claire Chai. Photographs courtesy of Lily and Lynette.


Volunteering With HOPE

We are recruiting animal rescuers.

Loving and caring for animals goes without saying; but what will make you stand out from the pack?

If you don’t mind getting dirty with dog vomit, blood or mud.

Cleaning dog poo, blood and vomit is a regular affair

If you have a dog pee/poo on you and can laugh about it.

If you are willing to commit time to helping out and you don’t mind cancelling dinners with friends or skipping other social outings as rescue work is last minute and ad-hoc.


Having dinner with the dogs because often we rush to the kennels right after work to spend quality time with the dogs

If you can kiss and hug a stray, without worrying about getting dirty or contracting ringworms.

Spending precious weekends playing with street dogs in industrial estates

If you can rescue an injured animal, feel sad about it but bounce back stronger and more willing to help.
Rescued from a puppy mill

Rescue Rangers at work

If you can get down on your knees and do manual labour – bathing dogs, walking / training them, cooking and feeding them, cleaning up after them and more.

If you can put your ego aside and work with different volunteers for the betterment of the dogs.

A lot of our time is spent in industrial estates, educating workers on the importance of sterilization and being kind to the animals.
You would need to start practising to be an alpha dog at a young age!

Young volunteer, Sara, helping out a a flea mart

Treating all dogs as equals, regardless of breed or background

If you don't complain about the kind of work you are given because you know that no matter what you do, everything makes a difference to the dogs, no matter how menial it may seem.

Finding joy in the things we do (feeding street dogs)

Looking at the lighter side of things
If you can work endless days and nights like us, yet still come back for more.


Allowing street dogs into your car!

Eating dog food and clowning around

Then write in to us. We WANT you! Email to fiona@hopedogrescue.org

We would like to thank White Room Studio for graciously hosting HOPE Dog Rescue's studio shoot. Our photographer, Dan, displayed true professionalism in dealing with our doggies despite their short attention span! Our volunteers and doggies certainly had a memorable evening mingling in the cozy studio. 


Share Your Fortune With The Less Fortunate

Usher in the Lunar New Year With HOPE

Fat Sister, Matthieu and Beano wish you a prosperous Lunar New Year so their fellow four-legged friends may benefit too.

The clamour of beating drums, the cling-clang of cymbals, and the loud chatters among scurrying shoppers awash the embellished streets in the lead up to the popular Lunar New Year. This is the season when family members from around the world gather, indulge in a spread of delicacies, and exchange a year worth of stories with one another.

The same nagging dialogues from concerned parents, the familiar aroma of home-cooked dishes, and the sight and sound of faces and voices you grew up seeing and hearing carries a heady, fuzzy feeling that tugs deep at our heartstrings, sending gushes of warmth right through our bodies.

This is the feeling of home; the ever-forgiving haven that will always have its doors opened to you.

For many of these street dogs, this is the only HOME they know
These puppies were so hungry they were eating metal shards
Admittedly, in our day-to-day hustle and bustle of city life, many of us forget to appreciate the simple goodness of home. Unlike us, street dogs don’t, and may never have a home to return to. For most of them, the rough gravel road is their makeshift home, the lone discarded bone makes a meal, and the stationary car serves as a temporary roof.

Puppy with his leg trapped between the beams. No one knew how long he had been in that position

In our years of rescue, we have seen countless of street dogs living in extreme misery and roaming the streets aimlessly hoping that someone will lend some help. Do you remember the disturbing photograph of Molly with bones jutting out from where her paw should have been? What about the story of Matthieu who is paralyzed from waist down and was spotted dragging his hind legs across rough gravel roads in search of help? Don’t forget Cooper, the victim of a hit-and-run accident; and Beano, the target of a cruel chemical attack.

This dog was so old and weak, he could hardly stand. We eventually put him down. Look at the oil on him from years of  living under lorries and trucks.

This puppy was stuck under the beams. She was eventually put down as her pelvic was crushed and she no longer had bowel control.

On the other end of the spectrum are breeding dogs, like Prince. While they have a roof overhead, many of them have never felt the grass beneath their paw pads, never had a full meal, and never received a pat for a job well done. Life, to them, was about working and dying without dignity. They live a life akin to overworked machines, they serve their owners with absolute loyalty, and when they’re past their prime years of reproduction, are left to starve to death in disgusting puppy mills. Some people just aren’t grateful, are they?

From dusk to dawn, these dogs struggle for another day to live. Life isn’t about frolicking under the sun without a hint of worry; life is a game of survival, a constant struggle and a daunting challenge.

Puppy crushed to death
So, as we relish in the delicacies and busk in the warmth in our families this season, take a moment to appreciate what you have on the table and the people around you. Think about the dogs roaming the streets in search for the lone bone before you discard the leftovers, think about the caged breeding dogs who have never experienced the love before you brush off the nagging comments made by your parents, and just give thanks for all that you have.


Share your love, spread the warmth and do a little more than you did last year. Adopt a dog if you can, or donate a penny if you may.

Thank you to the people who have supported us in your own ways. We promise to continue touching more lives, and do what we do best – saving lives – in the year of the snake.

Happy Lunar New Year and we wish you all a happy, healthy and wealthy new year.

Written by Claire Chai