Have You Ever Seen Such A Sad Dog?

Have you ever seen such a sad dog?

This is Mike, a 3-year-old male Cocker Spaniel.

Mike. His eyes seem to plead with us to take him away to a happier home.

Two months ago, Mike’s owner, Jim* wrote in to HOPE about giving up his dog. He requested for help to rehome Mike as he could not afford time and money for Mike anymore as his sister and him are still schooling. Here at HOPE, we feel that such circumstances do not warrant giving up pets, so we offered to help out with Mike’s grooming, medical and food expenses, in hopes that Jim could reconsider. Thankfully, he agreed to keep Mike, and we arranged for one of our volunteers, Joceline, to visit them.

Joceline visited Mike and found that he was grossly malnourished, had skin problems and was hardly ever groomed. Mike appeared despondent and wasn’t provided sufficient food and water. The bowls that Mike was using were too small to accommodate his appetite for his size and age. The bowls were bought when he was a mere puppy and had not been changed for almost 3 years despite Mike having grown bigger. Mike also had not gone out of the house for quite a long time as Jim stated that Mike would usually pull at the leash so instead of teaching him to walk nicely on leash, he took the easy way out and kept Mike at home.

Bad skin under his neck
Poor Mike had bad skin problems from neglect
Look at how red his skin is. Imagine what he has been putting up with all this while?

So, we sent another volunteer to help to groom Mike, and to educate Jim on the proper ways to feed and groom him. We even bought new food and water bowls for Mike. We also got new collars and a leash for him, and taught Jim how to properly walk Mike. After all this, Jim agreed to walk Mike at least once a day. It was a relief to see that Jim was willing to put in effort to salvage Mike's condition.

Gross neglect. Grossly malnourished. Look at the sadness in his eyes.

Puppy sized bowls that had not been "upsized" for three years.

Fur on paw pads were long and not trimmed.

His first ever grooming session

Poor sad doggie

Volunteer Joceline showing Jim how to bathe and blow dry his own dog.

Mike was subsequently brought to the vet to treat his skin. He also had severe ear problems. His ears were so painful and badly infected, it had pus oozing out of them. The doctor told us that Mike was severely underweight, but had to be given more food gradually as his stomach had shrunk and could not hold too much food suddenly. He had to be fed many small meals throughout the day.

Dr Poh checking Mike's eyes

Badly infected ears

After a few days, our volunteers visited them again. Although there were slight improvements in the skin and ear conditions, Mike still looked terribly depressed and underweight . Mike behaved as though he had never had contact with any humans, similar to a breeding dog that has been caged all his life. He seemed unsociable, didn’t have eye contact, nor respond to anyone calling him. We are not even sure if Mike has a hearing problem. Was he born deaf? Did the bad ear infection affect his hearing? Or is it because he just doesnt know what language is as no one has ever spoken to him?

We wanted Jim to learn some responsibility in caring for Mike, so we decided to give them more time, continue educating Jim and follow up with him on the next visit.

2 weeks later, Mike seemed to have gained some weight, but still looked dejected and unsociable. We decided that we had to do something as Jim didn’t seem like he was putting in enough effort. We asked whether he still wanted to keep Mike or give him up. We made the hard decision as there was no support from the family and Jim wasn’t sure if he could commit to Mike for life. A week later, Jim gave his answer of wanting to rehome his dog. He understood that Mike needed a better home that can provide more commitment.

Mike is now under the care of HOPE and is up for adoption. He has been sterilised, vaccinated and his ear condition has significantly recovered. He is presently on antibiotics for his skin issues.

He has been emotionally and physically neglected for so long. He doesn't even know his own name.

We have renamed him Reuben. A fresh start, a new beginning.

A slightly happier Cocker Spaniel
It is time for him to receive all the love he can get to be happy again. Reuben has a habit of circling. This could be due to the lack of stimulation and the family who adopts him will need to make a conscious effort to stop this behaviour. It is preferable that the family who adopts Reuben always has someone at home, so that he is not left alone for long hours on end. He need lots of socialization, intellectual stimulation and encouragement on how to be a normal doggy again. He has no idea how.

Reuben now gets long, daily walks and a new lease on life!
Reuben needs a family who will be very patient with him, who has time to exercise as he has lot of energy and is very fit. One of our volunteers, Ruth, took him for a walk at the Botanical Gardens and he was still going strong after 3.5 hours! If you wish to provide that new home for Reuben and adopt him, do contact hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg

Adopt Reuben
We hope that from this case, people will understand the many responsibilities of owning a pet, before actually going to buy/adopt one. Do research on the pet that you’re thinking of getting and consider whether you are able to commit your time to it. On the final note, do not buy on impulse.

Adopt Reuben
Breed : Cocker Spaniel
Sex : Male
Age : 3 year old
Health : Vaccinated, microchipped, sterilized and in good health, aside from his skin issues.
Temperament : Good with children, sweet natured, good with other dogs but needs time to open up.

Requirements for adopting Reuben
*Family that will not leave him alone for long periods of time
*Patient and willing to correct his circling habits and nurture him from scratch
*Take him for long walks as he has loads of energy

Email : hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg

*Adoption terms & conditions apply
*Names have been changed.

Written by June Oh. Photography by Joceline Loo, Annie Tan & Ellie Hawkins