A Different Kind of Happiness

Looking back, have you ever asked yourself if you’re satisfied with whom you have become versus who you endeavour to be as a child? Well, I think we should all give ourselves a pat on the shoulder for being the person we are today, no matter your social status, your accolades, the number of friends you have on Facebook, or the digits in your bank accounts. It doesn’t matter if we are more stubborn than another person, or if we are less well-off than another being. We are all different and challenged in our own ways.
Of course, for most of us, our parents have been instrumental in moulding, guiding and nurturing us to become the person we are today. However, more often than not, we forget that we are our own parents, and we are a reflection of what life throws at us – lemons or unicorns. We learn through challenges, and we learn to calibrate and recalibrate ourselves until we rise above these challenges. We make decisions based on experiences, past learning or gut-feelings, whether it is practical or idealistic. We meet people, and we learn from them – be it learning to be as good as them, or learning to be better than them.
Dogs are no different. They too are born as pure as an angel and as innocent as a new-born child. And like us and our children, they learn through life-lessons, influences, challenges and past encounters. While we don’t speak the same language, we share this universal, unspoken language that cuts through the loudest of noises and the quietest of nights to reach the deepest abyss in our heart. This is similar to how parents can understand their babies even before they learn to speak. It’s funny that despite our many physical differences, we all so similar emotionally!

Happy, a female local, has been with us for almost a year now. She had been abandoned, and was left outside a vet clinic on a short leash. We took her in and boarded her at a kennel for the first three months, before moving her to a pet shop. Although staying at pet shops are generally more expensive than kennels, we realised it would be way more beneficial for a dog like Happy to live in a pet shop, until we find a suitable home for her.  
In between, a family fostered Happy but gave her up on the third day because they thought she was way too playful and their dog didn’t like her presence. It is a shame to give up a dog so quickly before even getting to know her. Fostering is about tackling and navigating through differences, through teaching and reinforcement. Fosterer needs to be in control of their pets and foster dogs, to monitor the play and to teach and correct their behaviours when need be.
Happy's markings are beautiful. The marking on her chest is absolutely unique!

Side-track, I too adopted a dog last November. The family who adopted the dog previously gave him up after staying with him for just one day, claiming that he was too playful and that he broke a vase in their home while playing. What they don’t know is that while he has his shortcomings, like all of us do, he is as sweet as an angel and I can never imagine living my life without him.
So, Happy was returned to the pet shop where she lived for the next six months. While at the pet shop, she only plays with one or two other dogs, and spends the rest of the time hiding behind the shop counter or under the sofa. This had a growing, negative impact on her.
Happy at her temporary foster home

Despite our volunteers taking her out for walks two to three times a week, Happy developed a fear of leaving the shop. She was afraid of the screeching tyres, busy traffic, and loud, sudden noises. Like most rescue dogs, it is difficult to put a finger to what triggered these fears.
Fiona, who has spent years working with special needs children, would often describe Happy as a dog with ADHD. Much like ADHD children, Happy hardly sleeps, and spends the night pacing the shop and looking for things to play. She never seems to put on any weight even though she has a healthy appetite.

Happy also displays some similar characteristics of autism inhuman, even though there hasn’t been any proven medical finding of autism in dogs. She has trouble coping with changes and would often panic when we take a different turn from the usual route, during her daily walks. Again, much like special needs children, Happy doesn’t cope well with changes and would prefer to stick to a fixed routine.
Happy is also forgetful and would often forget what was taught to her previously. If you have worked with special needs children, you will understand that with these children, you will need to repeat teachings until it is imprinted in their minds and becomes automated behaviours. 
Autistic children are also unable to moderate their own play. Happy is no different, and she needs a firm owner to tell her when to stop playing.
Black beauty

Although autism in dogs have not yet been proven scientifically, it is not far-fetched to believe that dogs and humans have their own differences too – not all dogs or children are the same as their friends. Fiona has found applying early childhood theories on dogs to be extremely helpful when understanding behavioural differences.
Like all of us, Happy has her own shortcomings, but she has many wonderful traits as well. 
For instance, Happy has absolutely no aggression and is extremely easy-going. She is also amongst the more sociable dogs that we have met. She wouldn’t mind if you clean her ears, put medicine in her mouth, clip her nails or touch her paws.
Happy having her photograph taken for HOPE's 2014 calendar with Joceline and Sherrie

She gets along superbly well with humans, children and other dogs; and she eats almost anything you feed her. Happy’s favourite moment is when she is in a dog run. You can almost see her radiating with happiness when she runs freely and boundlessly along with other dogs. I must forewarn you that the journey to the dog run may be a stressful experience for her, but once you see her running about in bursts of excitement, you will know the journey was worthwhile.
Happy’s happiness is addictive, and her energy is rejuvenating.
Raising a dog is much like raising a child. They are a reflection of our teachings. We, as parents, need to set clear boundaries, to stay consistent, and to remain firm when needed; but we also need to recalibrate ourselves to better understand our children and pets as they grow up. No individual is the same throughout the course of their life; and not every mistake will forever remain a mistake. As long as we understand their differences, these differences will soon become opportunities for us to get to know them better.
Every special needs child and dog is beautiful in their own ways. They teach us such valuable lessons in life; they teach us to learn and to laugh wholeheartedly without reservation; and they teach us to live in their special worlds which are unmaterialistic, genuine and, non-judgemental.  
For people who don’t understand Happy, you may think she is stubborn, difficult and wanting her own ways. Happy is none of the above. She is just different and she has her own fears, but beneath her fears and idiosyncrasies, we know she is learning to cope with her differences and to live life to the fullest like any other dogs.

All Happy needs is a family that will learn to understand her differences. Are you that special person for Happy?
Note, we think it is best Happy goes to a home with a small garden so she can do her classic “Happy” run/dash, and it would be ideal for the family to have a dog to keep her busy. Happy is not for any regular pet owner. If you are ready to understand her differences, and to learn with her through her differences, please write to us at Alicia@hopedogrescue.org. It takes that special someone to love and appreciate Happy.


We thank Zeke and family for fostering Happy.

Written by Claire Chai


Abusing Amos

This is a story about a Shihtzu. Yes, that is right, a Shihtzu. What? You may be thinking, how could there be a call for a Shihtzu to be adopted? After all, aren’t they one of the most desired pets and one of the cutest dogs ever? Well, all dogs are cute but Shihtzus are apparently one of the more popular breeds of dogs. However, it is strange that we have had a recent spate of Malteses and Shihtzus being abandoned.
How could anyone abuse this sweet, innocent soul?
When you look at Amos, the main character of our story today, you would think ‘awwww so cuuuteee’… His eyes seem to be telling you ‘please shower me with love and care’. How could anyone bear to hurt a cute and tiny little dog like that? Yet, lamentably, there are callous people hidden amongst the decorous individuals in our ‘fine’ country. Amos is a black male Shihtzu, estimated to be 8 years old. Poor Amos was abandoned and left to fend for himself on the streets, rummaging for scraps and abused by heartless people.
Fortunately, there are still some kindred spirits in our modern and hedonistic society. A kind soul spotted Amos in the Tiong Bahru area for a few days surviving on orts. The straw that broke the camel’s back came when he saw Amos being kicked around like a soccer ball. How monstrous can people get? This caring man stopped the perpetrators in their tracks and tried asking who Amos belonged to, but no one had any idea. All they knew was that Amos had been hanging around the area for a few days.
Amos has bad skin and ringworms, most likely caused by neglect
After that, the man very kindly brought Amos to the vet, asked the vet to check if he was alright, paid for Amos to have a skin culture and skin scrape as his skin condition looked bad, but he mentioned that he could not take him home. This was the point at which HOPE came into the picture. The vet called HOPE for help to take over the case, foster and help rehome Amos and we promptly agreed.

One of our volunteers, Lynette, met Amos at the vet and felt so sorry for him. To use “Poor Amos” to describe Amos seems to be an understatement. He was in such a pitiful state that one wonders what he did to deserve such a fate. Amos had problematic and patchy skin, was thin, senior and had unhealthy teeth containing plaque deposits. He also had not been sterilized. When Lynette opened Amos’s ears to check them, they were all wet with pus and so severely infected that they had become the site of fruit flies’ feasts! His ears had been so seriously infected that he must have been neglected for more than six months. Despite the excruciating pain and discomfort, Amos has given us his utmost cooperation in letting us clean his ears. Poor Amos also had nails that were way too long for him to be able to walk without hurting. This was another piece of evidence showing the gross neglect that Amos had suffered from. I find it utterly unfathomable how anyone can find the heart to cause Amos such suffering. His adorable face screams ‘I am just a little dog. Will you look after me?’ How can anyone bear to abandon him, let alone abuse him?

Look at how badly infected poor Amos' ears were; imagine his pain and discomfort
Long, unclipped nails made it painful for Amos to walk
As with all dogs that are under HOPE’s care, we did had a battery of tests for Amos; checked his ears, teeth, estimated age, joints for arthritis, blood works for kidney and liver functions, tick fever, heartworm, parvo virus and distemper. Amos has a bad ear infection and ringworms, minor issues that he will recover from, with some love and medications. Apart from this, Amos is in good health.

Eyes that plead for love
Amos gets along well with humans but dislikes being caged up. He barks at the vet when he is caged up, but once he is out of the cage he is a good boy. Perhaps he is afraid of being left alone and abandoned again. Currently, Amos is looking for a new home. Will you give him one? He would be so grateful if you could give him a loving home!
Amos needs an immediate foster / adopter. If interested, please email Fiona at fiona@hopedogrescue.org.

We thank Dr Ang from Mt Pleasant Redhill for providing a bag of food for Amos and Andrinne for fostering Amos temporarily.
Written by Ng Weiling. Photographs courtesy of Lynette.


Yoga Cat

We had just started counting cats for spaying on our usual feeding rounds when we saw a lone cat sitting at a distance next to a worker. We felt something was amiss, so we called out to the worker and asked why the cat was on its own.

“Oh, leg no more, no walk,” he called back to us.

A worker showing us the injured cat

Immediately, I panicked and asked him to carry the cat over so that I could have a look. The moment I laid eyes on her, I was shocked beyond words. Her hind legs were so badly broken that she could not stand. They were sticking out in completely wrong directions. It was obvious that it was an old injury, as her bones had fused solid at those awkward angles. Just look at the photos and imagine the pain the cat would have gone through, dragging her wasted legs behind her for months as her broken bones mended themselves slowly, in all the wrong ways.

She can no longer bend her right hind leg
Look at this poor cat! Her left hind was in an entirely wrong angle!
She had not had a proper meal in a long while as there was no way she could get about without being mauled by dogs

By this time, Burmese workers from around the area had gathered around the scene. They informed me that, some time ago, people had clubbed the cat with a “kayu” – which means wooden stick in Malay. Saddened but furious, I demanded to know who could possibly have done such a thing to her. Immediately, the workers clammed up and shook their heads. They probably didn’t want trouble at the work place. It was infuriating, but there was nothing more we could do about the incident.

At the vet

Look at the sorry state she was in. Her limbs were all wrong!

How could any human possibly be so evil to beat a living creature to this extent?

We scooped the cat from the worker’s arms and propped her up on a high wooden box, safe from the stray dogs, so that she could eat. She was mere skin and bones; we could feel every detail in her fragile skeletal frame as we carried her. The poor starved kitty probably never had a good chance to forage for food in her condition. She hungrily wolfed down three whole cans of canned food as we watched. Although she was a little shy, she was truly a friendly and sweet creature.


After she was finally done eating, we placed the cat into a carrier and brought her straight to the vet. Unfortunately, we were told that there was no way her legs could be saved. Amputation was the only option. Right now, she gets around by pulling herself along on the ground with her 2 front paws, dragging her back legs behind her as she moves. The vet believes that amputating her hind legs would make it easier for her to “walk”.

Look how her legs fused in the wrong direction after the bones joined. Imagine the pain and suffering she has gone through

Talk about animal cruelty! We simply cannot imagine why or how someone could do this to a tiny, defenseless creature, why anyone would abuse and torture innocent animals. Imagine the pain this cat has gone through, and how her life has been changed irrevocably because of a single act of meaningless violence. She’s a trooper, she survived; but there are millions of animals out there who are still being abused and who aren’t so lucky.
If you see cases of animal abuse, please notify the authorities or call an animal welfare organization. Every life is worth saving.

Written by Elena Lin


Murphy, Saved From A Breeding Farm

On 20 Aug 2011, a painful decision was made to relieve Precious, our pet dog for the past 11 years, of further pain and suffering. It was a heartbreaking experience for us.

“No more pets” was what Mum told me, knowing the heartache we had gone through after trying everything under the sun to save her.

Days rolled by with the ever-growing void that “Preshie” had left behind and every day I silently hoped that I would come home to a surprise --- a doggie waiting to greet me. That never happened.

Sometime in October 2011, I ‘caught’ Mum scrolling through the SPCA adoption gallery page and asked if she had second thoughts of owning a pet again. She tried to brush it off with “I don’t think Dad will agree to that”.

I recalled Joanne (a course mate) had mentioned a dog adoption drive by HOPE Dog Rescue. I searched the website and found that the adoption drive was over. But Mum had fallen instantly in love with Murphy (one of the Famous 5 up for adoption) and I pleaded for her to check if he was still available. She advised me to “check with Dad first”.

At the breeding farm. So many dogs in a small cage. This is how they live all their lives.


Day he was rescued.
Dad said “yes”! I immediately sent an sms to the contact person (Lisa) to enquire if Murphy had been adopted yet.

The next morning, Lisa sms-ed Mum to say “ Murphy was still available for adoption” and that she could send us the adoption questionnaire. Mum then sms-ed me with the news while I was on the MRT to school and I literally squealed in excitement --- the possibility of adoption!

His very first bath after the rescue

After some anxious waiting -- the short-listing process and house checks that had to be carried out, an email arrived from Fiona confirming that Murphy was finally ours! And we hadn't even met him yet!!

Murphy’s arrival to our home on 4 Nov 2011 certainly lifted the gloom in our household. Our Malti-poo has since brought us so much joy and laughter and is a Light in Our Life.

Thank you HOPE Dog Rescue for saving Murphy from the breeding farm and giving us the opportunity to provide him a life he truly deserves.

Murphy just celebrated his 2nd birthday in May 2013

Murphy – our fluff ball

Murphy and Me as he is today

Murphy on the right, while mommy holds on to Cotton at our recent Meet Cotton & Harper session

Contributed by: Larissa Ng


Adopt. Save A Precious Life. Do NOT Buy.

Many of you have probably heard this before; that the most common reason for not buying a pet is the countless shelter animals waiting to be adopted. But there is a darker, and more sinister truth behind the push towards adoption instead of buying: the little-known cruelty behind the pet trade.

Many people are not aware that the pet breeding industry is a very cruel one. The animals are kept purely for the sake of producing litters. They are often kept in appallingly dirty and cramped cages, sometimes with no room to even turn around. They are fed only the cheapest and nutritionally poor food and made to produce litter after litter.

Imagine being pregnant all the time!

And when these dogs have outlived their usefulness, they are discarded like old furniture or abandoned. They have never been patted or shown affection in their lives. They have never had the chance to step on grass, to be taken on walks and feel the sunshine on their faces. They do not know the meaning of love because they have never been loved.

Many of you do not know this because you have never seen, and will never be allowed to see, the back of the nice showroom where the breeding and horror is. You will probably get the shock of your lives if you do.

Poorly fed dogs give birth to defective puppies, and more often than not, these defects only show up when the puppies grow older and you have already bought them.

But what happens to those puppies that cannot be sold? What fate awaits them?

They are either put to sleep (maybe inhumanely as anesthetic costs money), abandoned, or turned into the next generation of breeding dogs.

By adopting, you are giving homeless, abused or abandoned animals a second chance in life. These dogs are very grateful to be given a second chance and they are very grateful and loyal. Adopt one and see for yourself the abundant love and loyalty they give you.

Baby Harper needs a home. She is almost 3 months old.

These dogs have tasted the hard life and they are just very grateful and happy to be alive, to be fed and loved.

These homeless local dogs that some of you call mongrels, are very intelligent and hardy. They do not fall sick easily like some pedigrees do.They do not cost much to keep and provide wonderful companionship.

So next time, you think about buying that cute doggy by the window, stop and think again.


Harper. Puppy Love

Since our last update, we’re glad to share that Harper has been discharged from the vet and found a foster willing to give 100% towards her care. Harper is still quite young and susceptible to infection so it is preferable that she’s not kept at the vet for too long. Her current foster is a dedicated caregiver and we are thankful to the foster and the support of the foster’s family so that Harper has a loving environment to heal and grow in.

Harper also had a consultation with Dr Jean Paul Ly of Animal Recovery Veterinarian Centre kindly sponsored by a HOPE supporter! Dr Ly first checked out Harper’s mobility problems. After looking at her x-ray, videos of how she crawls and through observation, he concluded that she was most likely born with a broken spine. This means that poor delicate Harper must always be carried carefully, with minimal movement. If you gently touch her spine, you can actually feel the deformity on her back. We still have hope that her bones will fuse properly as she grows to give her a better chance at walking normally in the future.

At Dr Jean Paul Ly's clinic
Thankfully, she appears not to be in pain at the moment. Cheerful and active, she tries all the time to walk, but her legs always give way and she topples. It saddens us to see her like this and we have been researching to see how we can help her. Dr Ly suggested that we leave her spine problem be for another month as she is still very fragile.
Brave Harper had her first vaccination
 Harper also had laboured breathing (suspected to be pneumonia) but fortunately it stabilised. At a return visit to Dr Ly four days after the first, she was given the all-clear! In other good news, the callous on her chest has dried up and the scab fallen off. The ulcer on her eye has also disappeared and she no longer tears.  Now we can all see little Harper’s “knowing eyes”, as Dr Ly commented. She is now in good condition for her first vaccination! We will also start her hydrotherapy sessions when she is 3 months old; we are holding off acupuncture and massage to a later stage as advised by Dr Ly. Hydrotherapy to start after she turns 3 months old as she is still unable to regulate her breathing well and we don’t want to risk her getting water in her tiny lungs.

Teething and learning to play with puppy toys

Back at home, Harper is every bit the lively puppy! She’s teething and has grown a preference to chewing on fingers rather than the toys we bought her. She also crawls all over her room, biting things and basically being the puppy that she is J We gave her her very first shower on Vesak Day – a quick warm shower as we couldn’t risk her falling sick!

Baby Harper's very first bath!


Harper still needs help with peeing and pooing though. She can’t control her bladder, and so would dribble urine when she crawls and when we carry her. As she cannot urinate on her own, we squeeze her belly 4-5 times daily to get her to express her pee. At the moment she uses a lot of pee pads, wet tissues, towels and newspapers, especially pee pads which we use to line her play area, flooring (so she doesn’t slip) and when we wrap and carry her. We’re always running low of supplies and would greatly appreciate donations. If you have any new towels or peed pads to offer, please contact us!
Non slip flooring for baby Harper
Harper will crawl and poo, but she is a very clean little puppy and has never dirtied herself. She will make little sounds to inform you that she has poo-ed and ask you to change her pee pad. As recommended by Dr Ly, Harper is on a special hypo-allergenic diet together with baby formula milk, papaya, lots of supplements for her bones and lingzhi for building immunity. This keeps her stools soft so that it can come out easily as she does not have the strength to push out the poo. This diet has been working well in maintaining a soft poo consistency which we will keep to for now.
Harper can stand for more than 10 seconds, especially when she is eating
Much stronger and bigger now
Harper’s various conditions may or may not improve with time. We’re doing our best to provide her with what she needs and of course lots of love! Life as a stray with no food and shelter is hard enough. Life as a stray puppy is even harder – Harper would have been defenseless against bigger dogs, abuse from humans at worksites and danger from trucks who cannot see her on the roads. With Harper’s handicap, we cannot imagine how she would have survived if Mr Aziz had not sought help for her… and so much help she has received! Thank you to all the kind souls who wrote in to offer help; we could not have done it alone without your support.

Watch how Harper tries to walk  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw7k4zVQVNc&feature=youtu.be

Harper still needs

·     Funds to support her daily living – supplements, soy milk formula, pee pads, new towels and food (she is not allowed treats as that might affect her bowel movement, causing constipation thus bacterial infection in her stomach).
Most importantly, Harper needs a loving family who will adopt her and give her the love and care she deserves for being such a brave little fighter.

If you can help, please email Fiona at Fiona@hopedogrescue.org
Thank you everyone for your kindness, generosity and compassion – we rescue dogs every day, and usually it’s the older dogs – dogs that have led a lifetime of pain and suffering on the streets – or old abandoned dogs. Little Harper, despite her miniature size, has been a huge inspiration to us. Her determination and courage has inspired us tremendously to continue with our rescue mission.

Written by Liw Yiling. Video by Nicole O'Neil. Photography by Buven
Meet Harper and Cotton
For donors and supporters who wish to meet Harper and Cotton, they will be at Doggiestyle Café this Friday to meet and thank you for loving them!

To all who visit Harper and Cotton at Doggiestyle Café this Friday, may we request that you have a drink or two at the café, even dinner perhaps, as the owners of the café have kindly allowed us free use of their café, and we hope to support their business in return.

Date  :  7 June (Friday)

Time  :  7.30pm to 8.30pm only

Venue  :  Doggiestyle Café (23, Serangoon Central, Nex shopping mall, #04R-72, Singapore 556083)

If you would like to donate food or basic necessities for Harper, please bring it down this Friday. Please note that these are the only items that Harper requires :

1)        Pee pads (to be shared with Matthieu)

2)        Brand new towels (as her immune is very low thus we would like to avoid used towels for now)

3)        Newspapers (to be shared with Matthieu)
4)        Wet tissues (to be shared with Matthieu)
5)        Isomil Soy Formula (from supermarkets)

6)        Ultra-Hypoallergenic Diet for Sensitive Dogs (from Animal Recovery Referral Centre, 466 Serangoon Road)

7)        Puppy toys, she is teething

8)        Harper is not allowed to eat treats for now, but should you wish to donate treats to our other rescue dogs, that would be most welcome. Please do not give us half eaten and opened treats. We don’t mean to be ungrateful but sometimes the treats get moldy by the time we pass it to our poor rescue doggies. 

Thank you everyone for making our rescue work possible. See you this Friday!