What Did I Do Wrong?

I had three dogs. I lost one to an age-related disease earlier this year. And even though he had to have regular checkups and was on long term medication, my family stood by him, just as he had stuck by us for 13 years. And till the very end, he gave us as much love and joy as he had when he was just a puppy. He slipped away with the entire family around him one Sunday morning. And although we all cried, in our hearts we were glad that we were all there when he passed on. Unfortunately for some dogs, they will never know what it’s like to have the comfort and security of a family in their days of need.

A friend was driving along Leonie Hill when she spotted a dog lying on the pavement so she pulled over and approached the dog. It was a little apprehensive but allowed her to pat it and put a leash over it. When she was trying to coax it along, the dog seemed to have difficulty standing up as its legs seemed to hurt. She wasn’t sure if it had been involved in an accident or whether the weakness in its legs is a symptom of old age. But the dog looked old, like a well-loved teddy bear who has been cast aside in favour of a newer toy, scruffy and neglected. As such, she called HOPE for help.

Chloe when she was just found

Unfortunately as it was very short notice on a Saturday afternoon, all the volunteers were busy with running planned dog errands and visits. In a similar stroke of poor luck, Fiona had no van because it had gone up in flames a few weeks back. To top it off, all the pet transport services were fully booked. Thus, our friend had no choice but to call SPCA to take the dog, as she needed to rush off for her next appointment too.

Despite the dog having a microchip, the SPCA could not track its owner down, and kept the dog at its pound for a few days. Worried for the dog, Fiona texted Corinne, Executive Director of the SPCA, to please keep the dog safe while we make arrangements to bail it out.

After making the necessary boarding and vet arrangements, our volunteer, Lynne, along with a pet transport vehicle, went down to the SPCA to bail the dog, whom we named Chloe, out.

They then brought Chloe to the vet for a full medical checkup, which is what we do for all our rescue dogs.

According to the vet, Chloe is about 8 years old, female, and she has severe arthritis, cataracts in both eyes, and a heart murmur. She’s also sterilized, as seen from her sterilization wound. Just 8 years old? Poor Chloe must have had a tough life because she looks much older than she actually is.

She was relieved to be saved

During her stay at the SPCA, Chloe had apparently bitten an SPCA officer, purely out of fear, as she is not aggressive at all and gets along well with people and generally with other dogs as well. But who can blame her for reacting out of fear and stress from being put into an environment that she was utterly unfamiliar with? People tend to blame the wrong end of the leash when it comes to incidents like this.

After the vet visit, they went to a shelter where the worker kindly trimmed Chloe’s badly matted fur, and this is where she will stay until we find a home foster for her.

Chloe is sweet in nature and has a deep sadness about her. We can’t blame her though. It’s obvious that she used to belong to somebody, somebody who cared enough to sterilize her but couldn’t care enough to see her through the rest of her days. Why is it that people always abandon their dogs when they need them the most in old age?

It baffles us to think that anyone can spend years with their canine companion and then cast them out carelessly for the sake of convenience. How can anyone take their dog out, with the intention of leaving it behind? How can they harden their hearts towards their dog’s trusting eyes and turn away from it to leave it on the streets to fend for itself? Don’t they care if it gets hit by a car? It was actually our initial thought when we first saw her lying on the ground, but later found out it was due to severe arthritis. Poor Chloe, every movement must have caused her a lot of pain and yet she had nowhere to go and no one to soothe her aching bones with affection.
Truth be told, it is so much easier to care for a senior dog than a puppy as they’re less needy, sleep more, less demanding and more appreciative. A puppy may be fickle in affection but an older dog is steadfast and loyal till the end to the ones it loves.

Just a few days into settling at the shelter, Chloe was suddenly attacked by a few dogs who went for her jugular veins with the intent to kill her, and they almost succeeded, leaving her bleeding profusely and in shock.

A sad twist of fate

Upon realization, a neighbouring kennel caregiver called Chloe’s kennel keeper and she immediately rushed down to the shelter and then to the Changi branch of Mount Pleasant Veterinary Centre where they shaved Chloe and cleaned her wounds. So horrific were they that the vet had to first stabilize her condition and give her strong morphine to tide her through the pain. When she was more stable, we then transferred her to our regular branch of the Mount Pleasant clinics.

Fighting for her life

It made us so sad to see her in such shape – she cried so helplessly that it reminded us of a child’s plaintive wails. Our natural instinct was to reach out and offer her comfort with hugs but after the attack, she is so deeply traumatized that no one can touch her. In her fear and memory of the ordeal she went through, she growls and shows her teeth when we tried to touch her. One can only imagine how horrible the attack must have been too emotionally affect her in this way and cause her to react in such fear. If only there is some way to let her know that she is safe.
She must have felt so vulnerable in that moment with her arthritis making escaping difficult and her bad cataracts clouding her vision. Due to her bad sight, it’s understandably easier for her to snarl first to defend and protect herself in the fear that she might be attacked again.

Her wounds were so deep it bled for days
The attack has left her entire face badly swollen beyond recognition, causing her to resemble a Chow Chow. At the moment, she is unable to eat or even swallow and is on a drip, morphine and antibiotics.

Face swollen beyond recognition and her shoulder had a very deep wound

Poor Chloe feeling very sorry for herself

Unfortunately, she will have to be warded for quite some time as she must have almost 30 deep puncture wounds all over her body, on her legs and mainly her neck, as the dogs had gone straight for the kill.

At the clinic, fellow volunteer Lisa heard her distressed crying and could not bear the pain and sadness and had to wait outside. That’s not a small feat considering that she has seen her share of horrific cases.

Fiona has only heard such a sad painful cry once in her seven years in animal welfare – and that was when a dog had to have her leg amputated and she cried so much after the surgery for her loss. Chloe’s crying immediately reminded her so much of that day many years ago, bringing with it so much pain and sadness, that she felt nauseous. The sorrowful sound will stay in her mind for a long time to come.

It’s a long road to recovery for Chloe to learn to trust humans again. She’s such a poor thing, first shunned by her previous family and now even her own kind. She was such a sweet old dog abandoned on the streets with cataracts and arthritis crippling her health. Just when she thought that life had taken a turn for the better, she was set upon by dogs in the shelter and almost killed – how unfair can life be for her? Will she ever know acceptance?

When she is ready to be discharged in a week to ten days’ time, we will need a home foster for her. Preferably someone with no dogs and great patience, to help Chloe regain her health and trust.

Abandoned by humans. Attacked by her own species. What is she left with? Why do bad things always happen to the sweetest dogs?
If you can foster or adopt Chloe in a safe and caring environment and best of all, give her a forever home and a decent shot at life again, please email fiona@hopedogrescue.org

Written by Eloise Lee