When Jack Met Julie

My journey with HOPE Dog Rescue has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Things you don’t often see on the streets, read in the newspapers, or hear of in your daily conversations. Truth be told, before volunteering, I was oblivious to the magnitude of suffering that strays, breeding dogs, and even some domestic dogs in Singapore go through. After all, the pooches I meet on the streets are almost always impeccably groomed, admired by passersby and accompanied by adoring owners. Besides, who would have guessed this beautiful, orderly nation of ours, home to a society of educated, law-abiding citizens, actually houses so many stone-hearted individuals who have complete disregard for animals?

The fur of a 3 year old Maltese, Jack
I wonder if fate should be blamed for animals’ sufferings? Or was luck at play? Why do some dogs have access to an unlimited supply of food and a shelter overhead, while others lead a beggar’s life in solitude, prone to danger and hunger? And why are some pooches the apple of their owner’s eyes, while others are grossly mistreated without dignity and respect? Sure, life isn’t fair to any of us – some people live in riches while others like paupers – but being at the apex of the food chain does not give us any right to ill-treat animals. It doesn’t allow or excuse our erroneous behavior of inflicting pain on the weaker beings!

Jack tied to a leash that restrains his movements for 6 months before Julie found him
(Photograph taken from mobile phone)

Jack could have been the popular neighbourhood Maltese that would have made everyone he met gushing about his bright round eyes, petite frame, and fluffy white coat; but as luck would have it, he was confined to the back of a shop for six months before Julie saw him.

Julie recalled seeing a forlorn looking Jack tied to a leash and sprawled uncomfortably beside two empty bowls. His doleful eyes, hidden beneath his scruffy, overgrown fur, called out to Julie and she felt compelled to intervene. 

A brave smile from Jack, whose coat was unkempt, overgrown, foul smelling and terribly tangled. You can hardly even see his paw pads!
After consulting with us, Julie spoke with Jack’s owner who revealed that it was his friend who had given Jack to him, and that he had never wanted Jack in the first place despite taking him in. As a result, he decided to confine Jack and kept him permanently leashed round the clock for six months straight!

Saddened by Jack’s predicament, Julie offered to adopt Jack but was turned down flatly. The owner’s refusal came as a shock to us because the man clearly had no intention of caring for Jack and had found him a burden. It is odd how humans can be so mercurial and territorial! And in all honesty, I doubt there was any emotional attachment involved in his decision, and I am fairly certain he merely wanted to keep Jack because someone else is interested in him now!

Ears that haven’t been cleaned for 1 year or more
The conversation persisted for a while (mostly with Julie telling him how cute Jack was and how much she wanted to adopt him) before the owner relented by saying he needed some time to think through it. His line of thought is extremely ironic and puzzling to us, given that he barely gave any effort in caring for his pet. To top it off, he was the one who said he didn’t want Jack and had chosen to keep him on a leash for six months. Pray tell us, why is he so hesitant about putting Jack up for adoption?

Left with no choice, we waited anxiously for his decision. Meanwhile, we assembled a team of volunteers, made arrangements with a foster, and had a vet appointment booked.

The fateful day came when the owner decided to give him up. We are relieved to share that Jack no longer has to sleep, live and eat with a rope fastened to him. The man finally gave in and entrusted Jack to us.

Once we got hold of Jack, we whisked him off to the vet immediately. The vet was shocked by the extent of his ear infection – wet, gooey and filled with yellowish discharge – and his horribly matted fur that was beyond salvation and had to be shaved off eventually. The vet also said that Jack’s ears probably haven’t been cleaned for at least 6 months to a year! No wonder the room reeked of the pungent odor from his ears, which had us all holding our breaths. All this didn’t seem to bother Jack at all, as he smiled adoringly at the vet while being treated.

Further checks also revealed that Jack has very high liver enzymes and needs to be on liver supplements for a while. He also has a hernia and undescended testicles. These will be operated on at a later stage when his liver readings go back to normal.

Badly matted fur caked up into a big patch on his belly
Jack still bore a smile even after his fur was shaved off! He’s rocking his bald body.

What should have been loose and fluffy ended up compressed into a matted layer stuck to the skin. A result of prolonged neglect.

It is hard to comprehend how anyone can neglect a dog like Jack. His ebony round eyes twinkle every time he looked at me, and I couldn’t help but give him another pat on his furry head. I swear those innocent eyes can brighten even the darkest day. Jack is presently boarding at a pet shop and requires a foster or someone to give him a good, loving home. We thank Kathleen, who fostered him initially when he required medical treatment. Despite being a first-time foster, Kathleen did an excellent job at caring for him – cleaning his ears, medicating him regularly, and paper-training him. Jack is a Maltese, estimated to be about 3 years old. He is a fast learner, slightly alpha and extremely easy-going. Please email sherry@hopedogrescue.org if you would like to adopt him.

Our gratitude goes to Julie for saving Jack and putting an end to his misery. Without her, he wouldn’t be the carefree dog he is today. 

Written by Claire Chai