Walk With Me. Farewell To A Brave Girl

Ah Girl was rescued on Feb 7, 2013. When we found her, she was lying in a car park, her stomach bloated with 2 litres of fluids caused by heart failure. We took her to the vet where she stayed for a while, before we transferred her to a friend, who kindly agreed to foster Ah Girl.

Ah Girl when we first found her
Ah Girl stayed with foster Sooh Yee for almost 2 mths, while we visited her every 3 weeks or so to take her to the vet for her regular review as Ah Girl had heart murmur and right side heart failure.

At Sooh Yee’s place, Ah Girl hardly ate. They fed her cooked food, dog food, all kinds of food, but Ah Girl would only eat a few bites and spend the rest of her days sleeping. Ah Girl had lost 8kg in a mere 2 months and now weighed just 8.8kg. She was a bag of bones.

On April 26, Ah Girl was taken to the vet early in the morning as she was just lying down and not moving much. At the vet, they could not find anything gravely wrong with her that would explain her lack of appetite and severe weight loss. We did an ultrasound, but it revealed nothing. It was not cancer, as Dr Goh had suspected.

However, she was severely dehydrated and Dr Goh asked that we leave her at the hospital for 8 hours to put her on drip and to pick her up in the evening. Dr Goh also recommended that we feed her anything she wanted, just to get her to eat.

Anyone who met Ah Girl would tell you she looked majorly depressed. In all the time I had spent with her, I had never seen her wag her tail.
Going home after being on drip all day
That night when I picked Ah Girl, I carried her to my van and took her home. I decided I would adopt her, care for her till she became strong again. Little did I know that I would only have 5 days with her, before she left us.

The 5 days that Ah Girl stayed in my home, felt like forever. Not because it was tedious but instead, her presence in my home was comfortable, as if she belonged, as if she was one of my dogs.
Other than feeding her for an hour during each meal, she was an easy dog to care for - undemanding, patient, and understanding. Meal times took that long because she refused to eat so I had to force feed her, trying everything from dog food to cooked food to baby food. Finally I discovered she liked bacon treats, so she ate that for her meals most days. Not the best choice, but at least she was eating and she loved it! She drank a lot of water, almost 4 litres a day, perhaps to quell her hunger.
Ah Girl's favourite treats!
Ah Girl slept in my toilet as she would usually pee twice at night. In the mornings, she would have free roam of the house. She liked sleeping in my room, beside my dogs. They were very nice to her, understanding and respectful of her space and she appreciated that.

Having Ah Girl in my home meant I had to work my schedule around her, changing her pee pads, cleaning up after her, feeding her etc but I enjoyed it. I enjoyed coming home to see her panting and looking at me with the cheeky one eye face! She enjoyed playing on my bed, it must have been her first time on one.
She loved playing on my bed
Look at the cheeky face!
She finally smiled when she came to live with me
Only 5 days I had with her but boy did I love that little girl. So old and yet so cheeky and stubborn, I can imagine what a fun loving dog she was in her younger days! I would lie beside her and fall asleep next to her. I kissed and smelt her forehead as much as I did my dogs and she enjoyed every minute of it. She loved being kissed and stroked to sleep. She liked hearing me talk to her and she would gaze at me with much content. I told her that she was a strong brave girl and that she could stay with me for as long as she wanted to.
Asleep beside me while I worked
I thought I heard her say, "Walk with me, I will teach you how to care for an old dog, it’s easy." And so she did teach me.

I told Ah Girl to eat and get stronger so I could take her to the park with my dogs. She liked sitting downstairs at the playground, sun on her, breeze blowing and watching the world go by. Sometimes when she felt strong, she would struggle to pull herself up and walk a few steps. She had severe arthritis as well.

Yesterday was Ah Girl’s final day with me. She spent the day lying next to me and my dogs, while I did my work, smothered with lots of hugs and kisses. I spent the entire day with her till I had to go out for a house check to rehome one of our dogs, Lulu. I am so glad I had that final day with her. That was about 6.30pm and again she had refused her boiled chicken so I left the food beside her and told her I would see her later. That was the last I saw her alive.
This was the last time I saw her alive
When I got home at 11.30pm I had just bought pork ribs to try feeding her. I patted my dogs and went in to the room to check on her. She was lying in an awkward position and I knew something wasn’t right. I stared at her body, she was no longer panting like she usually did. I knew she was gone.

I knelt beside her and touched her body, she was still warm. I called out to my mom and my mom said she had checked on Ah Girl just 10 mins before I got home. Her heart must have stopped beating. Why didn’t Ah Girl wait for me to say good bye to her?

I carried her and lay her on a blanket. She looked peaceful. I knew she went happily, contented. Perhaps she finally felt that she had a home and a family and that she was ready to go.
Passed away peacefully
Despite being in animal welfare for almost 7 years, I have never fostered such an old dog. Ah Girl was estimated to be about 13 years old. Her tenacity and will to have survived 13 years on the streets - I can’t tell you how strong she is.

She survived many accidents; three broken legs, loss of an eye, and a disfigured ear. Metals plates and screws in one leg, heart murmur and heart failure. I have never met a dog so strong and brave in my entire life.

What a tough, sad life she has had.

Letting Ah Girl go is not easy as it was all too sudden, although the vets did constantly remind us that her heart could stop beating anytime. I had such high hopes for her, I was planning to take her to the beach . . . .

I informed our team and Lynne and Lisa met me at the hospital slightly after midnight last night. They sat and cradled her for more than an hour, till rigor mortis started to set in . . . .we just hadn’t had enough of her.

This morning, we will hold a private cremation for Ah Girl, something she deserves and it will be attended by volunteers who have had the honour and pleasure of meeting her.

I count myself luckiest of the lot, I had 5 days of joy with Ah Girl, 5 days of wonderful memories that I will forever cherish.
Beautiful Ah Girl
I love you, Ah Girl, you will be dearly missed. Thank you for letting me walk the final journey with you and for the precious lessons you taught me. You’re a brave little girl and I hope to meet you again someday soon, somewhere over the rainbow.

Forever love, Fiona

Farewell brave girl. You will remain in our hearts forever.


By Lisa : Who is Ah Girl? One may think she's just another local dog. But she isn't. She was a special dog, 13 years old, with only one eye left after losing one eye to an accident. Life has been difficult for Ah Girl over the last 13 years, and I feel sorry for the hardship she's gone through.
I am grateful that Fiona gave Ah Girl a home and I visited Ah Girl there. What I love about Ah Girl is her attitude, that hint of cheekiness and appreciation each time I gently planted kisses on her forehead and muzzle. When I visited her, she actually wagged her tail when she saw me. That was the first time she wagged her tail, no one else has seen it. The image will stay with me forever.

Little did I know it was Ah Girl's final 5 days on Mother Earth. She left us peacefully last night.

This is my maiden experience of a death of a dog and it was not easy to accept her sudden departure. 
Thank you Ah Girl for accepting me as a friend. I am glad to have met you and you taught me patience and perseverance in life  -- That if one does not give up, happiness will come. Finally, you can have a place you call home. 
Lynne and Ah Girl
By Lynne : When I first laid my eyes on Ah Girl, I was struck by how sweet, beautiful, innocent and friendly she was. Unlike other stray dogs that are ever so wary of strangers, Ah Girl wagged her tail when she saw me and allowed me to pat her.  
Ah Girl was a dog with enormous love and loyalty. It comforts me to know that the last two and a half months of her life were graced with things that she loved : chicken wings, daily walks, a loving foster (Fiona) who shared with Ah Girl her kisses, her hugs and her bed.
Ah Girl has inspired me to live my life to the fullest and to take time to stop and smell the roses. I love her. Always will. And she will always be in my heart! Rest in peace, Ah Girl!".
*On behalf of Ah Girl, I would like to thank Fiona and volunteers from HOPE Dog Rescue for giving her a loving home in final journey of her life.