Four Leaf Clover

We mourned the loss of two tiny lives. They were perfectly formed and so tiny and perfect that only a puppy can be. They were stillborn.

It was a routine trap, neuter and release exercise at a factory we visited on a weekly basis to feed the stray dogs inside. The intention was to catch two puppies; a male and a female who are approximately 6 to 8 months old. It went relatively smoothly and we got them within 15 minutes.

One of our volunteers then walked up and said there was another female who looked pregnant. Perhaps we should have walked away, after all we had gotten the two we came for. But as luck would have it, we actually had an additional carrier in the vehicle for a cat we wanted to sterilise as well. And this female dog was small enough to fit right in.

And so we took Clover.

They were sent to the vet for sterilization the next morning and it was bad news all around. None of the 3 dogs could proceed with the sterilization. The two puppies had a very low blood count and diagnosed positive with tick fever but that’s a story for another day.

Clover at the vet

Clover, as we named her, was in the last stage of her pregnancy with a severe heart problem. She may not have survived the birth or even another month as a stray. The easy way out would have been to terminate her pregnancy. After all, there are numerous adult dogs waiting for a second chance without further additions to the stray population. We transferred her to another clinic for a second opinion and to conduct an ultrasound to better understand the severity of her heart problem before proceeding.

There was no way we could terminate her pregnancy, despite the fact we already have 28 dogs desperately needing fosters and permanent homes. This was not one, not two but four heartbeats we were talking about. We took a deep breath and decided to welcome Clover and her four puppies to our HOPE family. Four leaf clovers are meant to be lucky . . . however, more bad news was to come. Mummy Clover has a severe congenital heart defect. She is only about 1 year old.  She was warded immediately and we could only pray that Mummy Clover would pull through a natural birth which was her best bet. Due to her severe heart defect, she could not be put under GA and she might not have pumped sufficient oxygen to her babies. Therefore, there was a very high possibility that her puppies might not survive the birth and she herself was in severe danger as her blood may not clot and there were many other numerous potential complications due to her heart issue.

Mummy Clover was warded last Tuesday and every day, like mothers or grandmothers, we waited anxiously for updates. She was really sweet and welcomed all her visitors with tail wags and allowed them to pat her, even though she must have been tired from carrying her puppies in her womb. Finally, last Saturday, the vet called and said she would most likely give birth within the next 24 hours and we rushed down with milk powder and towels. At the vet, we were given ten minutes to visit her as it was a busy time at the hospital. It might be a coincidence, but in those ten minutes, we told her that she was safe now and we would help her take care of her babies together and all of a sudden, a sac started to slip out of her! We were in shock for about 10 seconds before screaming for the vet technician to come over.

It was a girl! Baby 1 looks exactly like her mummy. Clover was an excellent mummy and immediately started licking and cleaning her. She even grabbed the puppy from the vet technician who was attempting to tie her umbilical cord. Such a cute possessive mummy! Baby 1 started whining for milk and began suckling almost immediately. This buoyed our hopes and Mummy Clover seemed to be in excellent condition. We were hopeful that all four babies will be delivered safely, and we started celebrating.

Cute baby looking just like mommy Clover

One hour later, Baby 2 came along. This time round, Mummy Clover didn't seem to be interested and continued to nurse Baby 1. The vet technician started getting anxious and quickly tore open the placenta herself but Baby 2 was motionless. Immediately, the vet and vet technician sprang into action, quickly rubbing Baby 2, and even providing mouth to mouth resuscitation. We could only look on helplessly with our hearts in our mouths, praying that their efforts were not futile. They didn’t give up and tried again and again and again. After what seemed like an eternity, the vet confirmed there was no heartbeat. Baby 2 looked exactly like Mummy and sister.

The two survivors

As she lay there forlornly in a box alone, looking like she was sound asleep, the vet technician walked over again and tried rubbing her one last time with the slim hope to resuscitate her. It was at this moment that the importance of a vet, vet technician and vet nurse comes to mind. Although experience, expertise and facilities are very important, what is more so is their heart. That they value the lives of our doggies, never taking no as an answer and never scrimping on their efforts to save our dogs’ lives. So many dogs were given a second shot at life here; Baby, Bradley, Wang Wang, Kate, the list is endless and we just want to thank these caring vets at ARVC for taking their lives as seriously as they would a human.

Without too much of a break, Baby 3 decided to make his debut. This time round, the mood was sombre and we were worried. Mummy Clover seemed to have some difficulty pushing Baby 3 out. The vet technician tried putting her hand in and we realised that Baby 3 had already slipped out of his placenta and was stuck. The vet technician didn’t give up and continue to tug. At this point, I was really not very optimistic after witnessing the birth and death of Baby 2. The vet technician too was very worried and getting frantic. She finally managed to pull Baby 3 out and thankfully he started wailing at the top of his voice. This all black puppy is a fighter and he gave us renewed hope and we just want to thank him for being alive.

Sadly, Baby 4 was stillborn as well and although the team once again displayed heroic efforts in saving her, she didn’t make it. Mummy Clover seemed to know. She stood up, started prancing around in circles and attempted to snatch her dead baby back from the vet. It was heart breaking. Baby 4 is a girl and dark brown. She was beautiful.

Puppies discharged

The vet deduced that one of Mummy Clover's horns must be weaker, leading to the dead puppies. A dog’s uterus is made up of two sides, each side called a horn. The puppies from one horn are born, the mother rests for a little bit, and then she delivers the puppies from the other horn. The dead puppies were alternate births and therefore from the same horn which may be deformed or weakened in part due to mummy’s heart defect, thereby depriving the puppies of sufficient oxygen. 

Cute puppy tail, drinking mommy's milk
Mommy Clover and her two precious puppies

It was an eventful day, akin to riding a rollercoaster. We were ecstatic for one minute and devastated the next. Even as we were mourning the deaths, we had to start looking for a foster home for Mummy Clover and her babies. Clover will also need to be on life-long heart medication and we need funds for their hospitalization as well. As the puppies must be with their mother for the time being, we are currently looking for fosters who can commit for at least 1 to 3 months for all three of them. Please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg if you can help.

We need help with :
1)      Vet bills for the birth of the puppies and hospitalization $3500
2)      Fostering of mommy Clover and her two babies

An exhausted mommy dog

Clover is a very sweet, gentle and good mommy

The two dead puppies, whom we named Diana and Beatrice, have been cremated. Their cremation was attended by our dear volunteers.

Cremation of the 2 dead siblings (Diana & Beatrice)

Every little counts and together, perhaps we can make a difference in the lives of Clover and her babies and bring the luck that four leave clovers are meant to signify back into their lives.  


Farewell Ralphie

We came to know about you on October 3, at about 3pm, when a member of the public sent your photograph to us. She said she had seen you crossing the road right in front of her car at around noon, along Yishun Ring Road. We rushed down to save you and take you to the vet but alas, you were nowhere to be found.

That photograph of you with a badly infected maggot wound and a missing ear sparked off 21 days of searching. 21 long days... many thoughts have crossed our minds, but unfortunately life is made up of “if onlys” and “what ifs”.

Reward starting at $300 and gradually increasing over time (thanks to kind sponsors)

That fateful day itself, October 3, a team of volunteers and friends started our search for you, combing the area and its vicinity from 5pm to 3am and starting early the next morning again. In fact, for the first 10 days since you were spotted, our team and some friends had put everything on hold, working on almost 24 hour shifts to look for you, staking out areas where you were last seen, falling asleep while waiting for you to appear, taking leave from work to put up posters and ask around. We even had the poster translated into 4 languages to target construction workers.

We were touched and heartened when friends, Facebook readers, Yishun residents and members of the public helped to look out and search for you, calling us whenever you were sighted.

We pounded the streets till our legs and backs ached, and we imagine that must have been just a fraction of the pain and discomfort you were going through. You must have spent your entire life pounding the streets, searching for food, chased away by unkind humans and looking for shelter where you could spend a safe day.

But in all our 21 days of searching, we never once met you. It seemed to us that those who intended to help you never saw you, and you only appeared to people who didn't help you. We received calls about your sighting usually in the wee hours of the morning, and despite rushing down within a very short time, you were always gone by the time we arrived. We would go on a wild goose chase, searching for a needle in a haystack. It was often a case of so close, yet so far. You were elusive to those who wanted to help.

Watch video of a drone sent in to look for Ralphie .

You had lived your life as a stray and trust was not something you were familiar with. We understood that. By the second week of searching, we came to the conclusion that perhaps you didn’t want to be found at all. Having already suffered alone on the streets for such a long time, maybe you didn't want to be helped or saved because you simply didn’t know what love or trust was.

But we did love you. After 21 days of searching, we felt as if we knew you, even though we didn’t. You must have gotten attacked by younger, stronger dogs, who had bitten your ear and that wound eventually became maggot infested. We heard workers telling us they had seen you since mid-September, when you went from having an ear to not having an ear.

People often asked if we were frantically searching for our own dog and when we said you were a stray, they were often shocked that we were putting so much effort into looking for a dog that was "just a stray". But yet we persisted, forming search teams to look for you, because we knew you were in pain and needed help.

Alas, 21 days have passed and it’s been a week since your last sighting. We had said we would call off the search after last Sunday but each morning we woke up with renewed faith, energy and determination that we would find you. And at the end of each day, often in the wee hours of the night, we would go home dejected, sad and exhausted. Sleep did not come easy. We would toss and turn in bed, dreaming about you, expecting the phone to ring, wondering where we didn’t search, wondering if you were still alive.

Today is 6 days after Sunday. Six days after supposedly calling off the search, yet we know there are still friends and fellow dog-lovers walking and driving around, hoping to see you, hanging on to the last glimmer of hope.

Part of us hope that you might still be alive and to be found soon, but deep down inside our hearts, we would like to think that you are free from suffering and have gone to a better, happier place Ralphie, a place where you would now understand the true meaning of love and happiness.

As you lie deep in the forest, on the warm soil, waiting for Mother Nature to claim you, we bid you farewell; we are sorry we couldn’t help you. We’re sorry we let you down.

Farewell Ralphie.


Bonnie Needs A Foster

It has been a few weeks since we rescued our little Bonnie. Since then, with the medications and a diet of special hypoallergenic kibbles prescribed by the vet, her baby fur has since started to grow.

Read her original rescue story.

At the vet
Bonnie has also since been back to the vet for her review. During her first visit, we had blood work and a skin scrape done and she was found to be healthy, if a little malnourished. Now that her skin is getting better from her improved diet, the vet finally had a chance to do a thorough physical examination to see if there were any other physical ailments that needed to be addressed. 

 Baby fur growing out and Bonnie has started to put on some weight
Brave little Bonnie
Fractured tooth

In this visit, the vet found a canine tooth that was so broken that the root was exposed. When asked what could have caused such a bad break, the vet surmised that she must have had to resort to eating stones out of hunger and broken a tooth while munching on one. What a sad life Bonnie must have had on the streets! The vet also found a badly infected nipple, probably caused by her skin condition and poor diet. There was a lot of pus squeezed out and it was foul smelling so it must have been infected for a while now.

Isn't she a sweetheart?
Throughout the review, Bonnie proved what a sweet girl she is. Not once did she fuss while the vet checked her mouth and cleaned her ears. Even when the vet was squeezing out the pus from her nipple, though it must have hurt, Bonnie did not wince at all and just calmly subjected to the treatment. Out in the open though, Bonnie can be a bit timid. During walks, she often has her tail tucked under and will freeze and attempt to bolt for cover. This is just an instinctual response to the unfamiliar from spending so much time on the streets. Back then, anything unfamiliar was usually a source of danger and in order to survive, she had to learn to avoid and hide as soon as anything unfamiliar presents itself. That is the way of the streets, and this is all she knows. But with time and patience, she can learn that she no longer needs to run and hide.

Squeezing out a lot of pus from a badly infected nipple
Blood works showed she's in perfect health
Now that Bonnie is on the path to recovery, she needs a foster urgently. She is a shy dog and prefers to chill in a corner on her own. She is very quiet and does not bark. She still does not know how to drink water from the bowl so requires some coaxing and encouragement. Though her fur is starting to grow, she still needs to be rinsed and have a medicated oil applied to her skin on alternate days to keep it moist till she recovers fully.

Will you foster me please?

If you can foster Bonnie and help with her recovery and rehabilitation, email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. Short and long term fosters welcome.

Written by: Sam


Freedom For The Three Musketeers

Have you experienced the warmth of having your dog(s) or a family member welcome you home with all his or her love before? When I go home, my dog would do a little dance for me, run around like a sprinter and lick me like I am an ice-cream. If you do not have a dog, maybe your parents or your other half greets you excitedly when you return home. We go home every day but our dogs and/or close family members are still so happy to see us when we return home. Imagine the rousing welcome we get from the three dogs that used to live in the makeshift sheds at the golf course. They only see us once a week when we bring them on their weekly walks. Before we arrive, we can already hear them barking in excitement. Upon our arrival, we would be greeted with a heart-melting sight. The three doggies would be standing by the shed gates with their paws resting on the gates, their tongues hanging out, their tails wagging so vigorously you can hear the swishing sound and their big round puppy eyes looking at you with so much anticipation you cannot help but go ‘awwwww’.  

Locked in sheds before rescue
The poor dogs used to roam around freely on a golf course until some of our less tolerant fellow humans complained about their presence and drove them into a corner. Kind workers built makeshift sheds for the dogs so that they could continue living on the golf course and not be taken by the authorities and put down, but the workers are very busy and do not have the time and resources to care for the dogs, so the poor dogs were cooped up 24/7 in the algae-filled metal sheds. This persisted until 3 weeks ago, one fateful Sunday on which our three makeshift dogs, affectionately known as the three musketeers, regained the freedom that was theirs to begin with.

Phoebe locked in shed . Phoebe is extremely shy and timid
It was a sunny Sunday as usual and everything in the air smelt the same. There was the smell of the grass, mud, haze, water droplets and doggy breath. The morning felt the same too. There was the hustle and bustle of families going on Sunday outings and the usual weekend crowd in the MRT trains and stations when we commuted to our meeting point. We went to the golf course as usual and the doggies welcomed us with their ‘awww-some’ welcome that never fails to melt our hearts no matter how many times we see it. It seemed like a normal Sunday, but this was a special Sunday for the dogs, a defining Sunday that would herald a new beginning for them, a glorious and happy Sunday on which their long lost freedom would be given back to them.

Straight to vet after release (L to R : Marilyn, Marley, Phoebe)

Marley and Phoebe, happy to have their freedom back
After we put harnesses and leashes on the dogs, we brought them out for a very short walk to pee before directing them to the pet transport. The clever dogs seemed to sense that something was different about their walk today and walked with some resistance when we tried bringing them in the direction of the pet transport, even though we sometimes go by that route when we bring them for their walks too. With some gentle nudging, the dogs became their usual rapturous selves again and galloped with us to the car park where the pet transport was waiting. We wondered how the dogs would react when we put them into the carriers that would house them for the next twenty minutes or so when the driver sends them to the vet for their full-body checkup before they are sent to their respective boarding facility. We thought they might be quite scared and nervous and perhaps cause a bit of a stir in the pet transport even though they were usually very well-behaved, but no, the dogs were so adorable and on their best behaviour. The three musketeers went into their carriers quite readily and just sat quietly in their carriers. They made no noise and no mess at all. Even the driver commented they were one of the best-behaved dogs he had ever transported. The three musketeers were so cute. The two shedmates, Marley and Marilyn, shared a gigantic carrier and minded their own business in the carrier. They just rested peacefully inside and each sat in their own corner. Poor Phoebe was not as calm as her neighbours. She was very scared and kept salivating, but she was still so sweet and made no protest at all. She is such a sweetheart.

The dogs getting some assurance from our volunteers

When we arrived at the vet, Marley and Marilyn strode straight into the clinic like it was their home and greeted everyone in the clinic affectionately. They were cheerful as usual and behaved like little children on an outing. They are so cute! Poor Phoebe was more aware of what was going on and knew that going to the vet might be a frightening experience. She was shivering, panting and salivating. We had to slowly coax her into the clinic. She was visibly stressed and sat stiff like a stone in front of her carrier. One of our senior volunteers, Wendy, kindly asked me to bring Marley over to Phoebe so that she would feel better.

We took our queue number and waited for our turn. Throughout the wait, Marley was so sweet, standing between Marilyn and Phoebe. The three dogs were really well-behaved and waited quietly for their turn. They were so calm and chill, one would have thought they were frequent visitors of the vet. When it was their turn to see the vet, Marley and Marilyn went into their consultation room readily and showed no signs of struggle at all. They willingly let the vet and vet technicians take their temperature and conduct tests on them. At this point, you must be wondering, how about Phoebe? Poor Phoebe was a bag of nerves. She froze and was reluctant to move from her corner to the consultation room. After some time, one of the vet technicians came to carry her into the consultation room. On the way in, poor Phoebe peed and pooed. She must have been scared stiff. We assured Phoebe everything was ok and settled her in quickly. The vet and vet technicians were able to get the necessary tests done without much difficulty as Phoebe was well-behaved during the check-up. On the whole, the three musketeers did really well at the vet. *Big hugs and pats for the doggies!*

Marley, thorn among the roses
While waiting for the test results at the clinic, we brought the dogs to the playground outside for a walk. They were happy like larks and did not turn a hair when people approached us to pat them. We think the dogs will be able to fit in well anywhere since they are so comfortable even in a foreign environment with so many strangers around. Then came the time for the collection of the test results. As we had expected, because of their filthy living conditions, the three musketeers were tested positive for heartworm. They are otherwise in good health. We have started them on their heartworm treatment, which will cost about $1,000 to $1,500 for each dog.

Best friends : Marilyn, Marley and Phoebe are available for adoption

It was an eventful day for the three musketeers but they coped well. If your wallet and heart allows, please give the three doggies a home or some money for their vet bills too. Franklin D Roosevelt once opined ‘Men are not prisoners of fate, but only prisoners of their own minds’. For the dogs, however, they were prisoners of fate through no fault of their own. They cannot control their fate with their minds unlike humans. Please help us to help them. By helping them, you would also help yourself. When we give, we often gain more than we give. This is a time-tested maxim. To adopt, foster or help with the dogs’ vet bills, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. The three doggies will be furever grateful to you!

Written by WL


World Animal Day

Many of us grew up celebrating Children’s Day in school. If you are still in Primary School, you would be celebrating it in school next Friday. We celebrate Youth Day, Total Defence Day, Racial Harmony Day and Teachers’ Day in school too. We also know about Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day. Yet, how many of us know about World Animal Day? Did you know, today is World Animal Day. On this very special day, let us wish all our animal friends a very happy Animal Day! May you gain more love from the humans and may more people know about your rights, show you more respect and realize you have feelings and emotions just like us.

The things we do to get a good shot!

Amber decides she wants to chill and we have to wait till she feels like walking again

On this very special day, let us also pay tribute to our best friend, the dog. It is difficult to use words to express the love and admiration we have for dogs, all the wonderful qualities dogs encompass and the special bond between them and us. No amount of positive superlatives would do them justice. Which other animal loves us as unconditionally and does so many things for us? Dogs go through thick and thin with us, adore us more than themselves, guard our homes with their lives, help in search and rescue operations, sniff out drugs, welcome us home with all their love and excitement, help to guide the blind and help to heal and touch lives through dog therapy just to name a few of the many things they do for us. They would even sacrifice their lives for us without a second thought. 

Vera is Amber's daughter and she behaves just like her Mommy! Super chill

That's Vera, getting affectionate with us

So many volunteers involved just to get nice pics of our doggies! 

What did we do to deserve such undying love and loyalty from dogs? Not everyone is a dog lover, but everyone benefits from dogs! When a dog is asked to help in a search and rescue operation, he will selflessly rescue everyone he can save. The dog will not be spiteful and say ‘hmmph! Why should I help her? She always bullies me.’ All of us also benefit from a safe and secure home thanks to our canine friends, who assist the police in patrols, screening of vehicles, bomb sweeps, containing of riots and finding of illegal workers amongst other tasks. We are so lucky aren’t we, to have the affection, attention, adoration and advantages from these cute little furries.

Part and parcel of being a doggie slave

Man's best friend

Their happiness and well-being mean the world to us 

Above all, love is enough reason for us to be kinder to our best friend, the dog. Even if they could not do any of the above things for us, just look at their eyes and give them a little pat or hug. Being human, you will definitely feel something in your heart. Something warm. It is then that you will know the furry one has occupied your heart. If you are a huge dog lover, maybe he has occupied your entire heart! Even if you are not a dog lover, the dog has the power to worm his way into your heart. He will occupy a tiny corner of your heart if you give him the chance to do so. Dogs are really such omnipotent beings. Their love for us knows no boundaries. Yet, there is only so little we can do for them in return. Many humans still treat them as lesser beings and some are so cruel to them, it really pains us so much to hear of their acts of malice to the poor doggies.

Let's celebrate DOGS

This Animal Day, let us create more awareness on animal issues and help the world become a kinder place for animals. Each of us just has to do a little and it will go a long way. Perhaps you could go to your pet and give him or her a little kiss, perhaps you could start volunteering with an animal welfare group or perhaps you could welcome a new fur baby to your home by adopting one. Let us do what we can to show our love and appreciation towards our animal friends today. Adopt, don’t shop, love the earth, love the animals, adieu to the dismal.

Best buddies

Written by: Weiling