Discarded During Spring Cleaning

On our monthly visit to check on the fish farm dogs, to apply Frontline and deliver food, the worker approached us for additional food portions for two new dogs. We were surprised by the news and more so when he told us that Jubilee's owners had left them there. We recalled our previous conversation with Jubilee's owner and remembered that he had a French bulldog.

For those who don't remember, Jubilee was so named because he was abandoned at this same fish farm while the nation celebrated our Golden Jubilee. Read Jubilee's story here.

We were appalled! What was up with abandoning dogs during festive periods? Did the owner think that they could sneakily drop off their dogs while everyone was out celebrating and not be caught? We just could not fathom the thought of how someone can repeatedly abandon one's own dogs. We decided to call the dogs Ah Huat and Ah Cai, hoping that, like Jubilee, a "lucky" name would grant them a luckier hand in life.

Ah Huat, the male French Bulldog
Ah Huat is a French Bulldog, estimated to be about 6 or 7 years old. Ah Cai, a black local crossbreed, estimated to be only about 6 months old. Both dogs are male and have become a bonded pair, probably because they used to live together and now only have each other.

This is their home until we can afford to send them for a full medical and get long term fosters / adopters 

Ah Huat & Ah Cai's home for now 
Ah Huat and Ah Cai (in background)
Ah Cai (a male, local crossbreed puppy)

One of the other fish farm dogs had died over the Chinese New Year period, having been bitten by a snake while the workers were away. By the time the workers returned, it was already too late. Ah Huat and Ah Cai are too domesticated and we worry about them having a run-in with snakes or even the existing pack of strays on the farm. Thankfully, the workers who were also worried that they may be attacked by the strays for intruding into their territory, locked them up in an area at the back of the farm to keep them safe. However, the enclosure is little more than a filthy alley that is exposed to the elements and is crawling with rats and other pests. The dogs have also taken to sleeping in an old cupboard in the alley and we worry that they may have heartworm, just like Jubilee had. 

We will need to send them to the vet for a full medical checkup and sterilization as soon as possible and will need help with their vet bills. They will also be up for foster or adoption. Ah Huat and Ah Cai are a bonded pair so they will need to be fostered or re-homed together. Therefore, they can only be adopted out to families living in private apartments or landed housing due to the single dog HDB rule.

If you can contribute towards their medical bills (they need full medicals and to be sterilized), or foster or adopt both of them, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. In the meantime, they are still roughing it out at the fish farm. 

Written by: Sam


Life Begins at 21! (CRYSTAL Updates)

Day by day, Crystal is slowly getting stronger in her foster home. She has finally put a bit of weight on that tiny body, but her bones still visibly protrude from her skeletal frame. She's not circling as much nowadays, but instead walks a lot more. Well, her hind legs are still quite weak and do slide apart sometimes when she's walking, but her balance is getting much better! Overall, it seems like Crystal's entire physique is stronger.

Initially, Crystal was fed just 10ml every 2 hours, and even that little bit she would throw up because her stomach had shrunk so much. Now, after 3 weeks, she gets syringe fed every 4 hours  and in between, she is offered food that she likes: liver, roast pork, BBQ chicken etc. Basically, at 21 years old, she gets fed anything she fancies! She has difficulty picking up the food with her tongue (since she has no teeth), so some days she gets tired and frustrated and gives up trying to eat. We’ve done a lot of research, blended her food, made it mushy, cut it into small pieces etc. but nothing really seems to work – we realize every dog is different and not all methods will work across the board. It makes us wonder how she managed to eat regular kibbles for almost a decade at the boarding place. Maybe that explains why she's so skeletal.

Her determination to survive is just amazing. Her willpower is so strong that we can imagine she was rather feisty in her heyday. She bumps into things and falls, but just picks herself up and continues along like it’s really no big deal at all. Nothing, it seems, gets her down. She even tried to jump over an obstacle. Well, it wasn't really much of an obstacle; just a water hose, but to her, it’s still a hurdle. When she tries to jump, it’s quite a sight to behold.

When she first went to her foster home, her tongue was purple. Another resident dog now shares his blood stimulant supplements with her, and her tongue has turned a healthier red shade. The resident dog also shares his eye drops with Crystal 5 times a day, and her eyes are no longer dry and dazed-looking. She now has the energy to turn her head and struggle when we syringe-feed her or apply her eye drops. We’re actually delighted that she is still able to put up a fight!

Initially at her foster home, she didn’t know how to lie down and relax. She acted very much like a breeding dog. She would just sit and doze off. Even today, we still have to carry her and lay her down. She panics a little at first, but when she realizes it's safe and soft, she falls asleep. Her foster now sleeps with the light on, waking up every 2 hours to check on Crystal while she sleeps. Did she vomit, pee or poo in her bed, or is she having a seizure etc.? Crystal's foster lets her wear a bell on her collar, so the foster can hear Crystal when she moves about. Her foster is very sensitive to the sound of the bell or the playpen rattling when Crystal bumps into it, and will immediately jump up to check if she's okay. Sometimes the foster likes to just sit and watch her sleep. Crystal is such a precious tiny angel, so sweet, so frail, sleeping so comfortably on a nice cozy bed.

Read her rescue story here 

Dogs live in the present. They do not dwell on the past like humans, which is why we have so much to learn from them. Crystal enjoys her brand new life now. She likes her walks in the parks (carried like a princess, of course), having two other dogs to accompany her at home, and being waited on hand and foot every 2 to 3 hours. It’s a life every dog dreams of and deserves. Crystal doesn’t want you to feel sorry for what she has gone through. She's a tough cookie, for having made it this far. So if you do meet her, just give her love and pats and not bring up her past. She just wants you to be happy for her, that she is starting a brand new life at 21 years old! Let's celebrate life!


Down On His Luck (Babu Updates)

There are days when something bad happens and we'll groan and think, “I must be the unluckiest person in the world!” Well, compared to what Babu has been through, most of us actually have it quite good. The saying that "lightning never strikes twice" certainly doesn't apply to Babu. Poor Babu has had the misfortune of being hit by a car twice, in the span of less than 4 years.

Leaving the vet after his second surgery

The only silver lining in his dark cloud is that he has been taken care of by kind-hearted foreign workers who feed him. But their jobs are transient by nature, and that means that Babu doesn't have a "true home" to call his own. Perhaps this is why he is so susceptible to traffic accidents; both times causing serious injuries to his legs.

Mr Friendly

Wearing a pain patch

Look at his arm. Imagine his pain.

Read more about Babu here:
His first rescue story
His distemper
His second accident

The poor sweet boy was found by a kind Samaritan, who then informed SPCA about an injured dog lying prone in the middle of the road, unable to move because of his broken leg. It was found that he had fractured his fore leg, hence the terrible swelling and being unable to walk properly. Despite his troubles, this plucky fighter is still on his best behaviour and as friendly as ever. But his injuries were more complicated this time.

This external fixator will have to remain for the next 6 weeks, going back to the vet every 2 weeks to check on his recovery & progress


Since the accident, Babu has had 2 surgeries done on his right fore leg. The vet went ahead with the operations even though we didn't have the money for them yet, as Babu was in too much pain. He underwent the first operation some weeks ago, which unfortunately did not go so well, and the screws came off.

A few days ago, Babu had a second operation to rectify the problem, and to insert an external fixator. He has just been discharged, but he'll return to the vet for a review this evening. To keep a close eye on his recovery progress, Babu will need to go for a review once every 2 weeks. And at the end of 6 weeks, Babu will go under the knife a third time, to remove the external fixator. Poor boy. 

Thankfully, the bill for Babu's first operation has been paid. But we still haven't gotten the funds to pay for his second operation, which cost $2,000. Getting this bill settled would be a huge load off our shoulders, and we would be able to once again focus on Babu's recovery and rehabilitation. If you would like to contribute to Babu's vet bills, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg.


A Task Like No Other

Imagine a job with no pay; working even on weekends and late into the night, while surrounded by suffocating heat and dozens of mosquitoes. No one hands you any awards or recognition trophies, neither do they thank you for the tireless work you do. This is the job of a HOPE volunteer. Unseen heroes who selflessly volunteer time and effort to help the ones without a voice - our local strays.

Carrying the dog carriers to the factories to trap dogs for sterilization

Checking which dogs are ear-tipped before we catch them
Checking on the healing of the sterilization wound (from the week before) 

Part of the job includes going on rounds to trap dogs and bring them in for sterilization. It’s not as easy as it sounds – it is tough work sometimes as the dogs don't trust humans and this can take hours, days or even months to accomplish. When the sterilization has been done and the dogs are released back to where they were captured, we don't just send them away and hope for the best. Our volunteers continue to visit and do follow ups with the dogs, checking their wounds to ensure that they have healed well and do not require further medical attention.

They aren't always this friendly! 

Sometimes we take months to gain trust and befriend them
Taking the next dog for sterilization and the ladies do a darn good job! 

That’s not all. Our volunteers also feed the dogs routinely and supply food to sites where there are nice workers who care for the dogs. As we are spread out quite thin, our volunteers are always grateful for the people who are willing to care for the dogs as this means that we do not have to visit as often, freeing up our time to care for other dogs in need.

Feeding them before we grab them! 

It's a dangerous job, but someone's gotta do it.

Our volunteers go to factories after work to speak to workers about the importance of sterilization

Please spread the word about the selfless work HOPE volunteers do and support our sterilization programme. By doing so, you will be saving countless innocent lives by controlling the stray population!

Email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg for more details.


Puppy Rover (Adopt Him?)

Handsome puppy Rover is available for adoption

Rover, our youngest little charge at only 4.5 months, is only a baby but he is also one of the cheekiest boys we've ever had. He has topped the list of exploits by all our rescues by doing the unimaginable last night.

He ate a sock.

He went into the toilet at his foster’s home and stole a sock from the laundry basket. You might be thinking, "Well he is quite innovative to find himself a new toy after getting bored with the ones he had!" He probably thought the same, and decided to play tag with his foster when she ran after him to retrieve the sock. When he realised that he was going to get caught, he decided to swallow his "new toy". He didn’t even bother to chew.

We cannot fathom what was going on in his brain at that moment. He seemed very pleased with himself, and might even have been congratulating himself on how clever he was to eat the sock so it couldn't be taken away from him. But trust me, it threw ALL OF US into a frenzy. We have NEVER had a dog swallow a sock before, and we were speechless and at a loss for several minutes. Over the years, we have had several thieves in our midst who stole everything, from food to toys to even towels, but NONE had ever attempted to eat a SOCK! It wasn't like with other dogs, who simply loved to gnaw and chew on socks and shoes. Rover swallowed the entire thing whole!

Second X-ray showing the sock in Rover's stomach (sock did not show up in the first x-ray, possibly surrounded by too much food)
Rover was rushed to the emergency clinic immediately by his foster at 11pm, and they were stuck there till way after midnight. An X-ray was taken and guess what, the vet couldn’t find the sock amidst the huge amount of food in his stomach! Obviously his foster had been feeding him very well, and it was definitely not hunger that motivated Rover to eat the sock! Anyhow, he was sent back to the clinic this morning and a second X-ray was taken. This time, the sock showed up clearly, and it was removed immediately via an endoscopy. Other than a slightly irritated stomach, Rover is in good health and is ready to go home later today.

Although we can all heave a sigh of relief and start laughing at the silly antics of this little boy, bills still have to be paid. Emergencies don’t come cheap, but we dared not risk Rover's life to save a few dollars. We need your help with our outstanding bills with so many vet visits recently. In fact, Babu will be going for his vet review today, and a possible follow-up surgery to remove a pin which is keeping his fracture in place but causing him great discomfort. 

Cute Rover at the vet
If you would like to pitch in and help pay the bill for this very silly boy, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. Rover woofs his thanks and promises somberly not to eat any more socks and we are not looking forward to his next misadventure.


Crystal (HOPE's Oldest Rescue Dog)

How old are the oldest dogs you know? Maybe 18, 19? Are they enjoying their golden years, spoiled rotten by their owners and living a life of leisure? That's the life a dog should lead.

Crystal's home for almost a decade 

This is Crystal. Crystal is the oldest dog that HOPE has ever rescued, still tottering about at 20 years of age. 

I first met Crystal about 8 years ago when I sent my dog to the groomer. There, I often saw her locked in a cage, and I heard that she was there for boarding. I did not know then, that her boarding would last almost half her life - almost a decade. Frankly, Crystal has been living in a cage for even longer than some breeding dogs.

Crystal at the vet

Over the many years that I patronized the shop, I saw Crystal getting older, growing weaker, and losing the muscles in her legs from years of being caged without sufficient exercise. She became blind, losing her sight completely. One by one, all her teeth fell out. Now she's totally toothless, and her tongue hangs out. It’s sad, watching a dog grow old but not under ideal circumstances, and not being able to intervene.

Watch Crystal's video here.

A weepy sore on her bony shoulder

I then found out that Crystal belonged to a Mr K, who was between jobs. He had rented a room where pets were not allowed. Since he could not take her home, she ended up spending half her life in boarding at a grooming shop, waiting for the occasional day that the owner would come and see her... and perhaps one day take her home. She literally spent half her life waiting, locked in a cage.

Getting some fresh air outside her boarding shop

I often asked why the owner did not just rehome the dog. I was told that he loved her a lot and couldn't bear to part with her, but circumstances were such that he just could not take her home. And indeed, I've seen that he does love her a lot. It wasn't an ideal situation, but it was one that both owner and dog had learnt to cope with.

But Crystal has begun to deteriorate very quickly over the last 3 months. Each time I sent my dog to the shop for grooming, I would intentionally stay at the shop so that I could take her out of her cage and carry her out for a little walk and some fresh air. She loved it. She craved being carried and hugged. Remember that Crystal is blind. Blind dogs get assurance from physical contact, whether it's being carried, or just leaning on someone. I noticed that, by this time, her legs had almost no muscles left at all. She could hardly even hold herself up. She also seemed like she has dementia. Often, Crystal walks herself into a corner, gets stuck, and doesn’t know how to back up and get out – but at 20, this is to be expected.

In the last 2 months, my pity for her situation grew unbearable. How different was she really from a breeding dog, locked up for almost a decade, living and dying in a cage. I started bugging the shop owner to talk to Crystal’s owner, to let me take her home to foster. When she came back with a reply, she said that the owner needed time to think about it and was concerned that the shift to a new environment would stress her out and make her deteriorate faster. That thought did cross my mind too, but this at least meant that Mr K really did have Crystal's welfare in mind.

3 weeks ago, I started cooking for Crystal. Crystal had become skin and bones by then. The shop fed her dry kibbles and wet canned food, but I felt that, as a very senior dog, Crystal needed lots of extra care and attention. She should be having lots of small meals throughout the day. And she definitely should not have to stay in that cage anymore, standing and sleeping on those uncomfortable metal bars. I did the best I could to make Crystal's life at the groomer's more bearable. I brought her a lot of donated towels and asked the shop to line the base of the cage with them, so that the metal bars wouldn’t hurt her tiny frail paws. Again, I bugged the shop owner to let me foster Crystal.

Finally, on Sunday afternoon, I received the best of news. The shop owner said that Crystal’s owner would like to meet me! I practically flew down to the shop. We met and chatted for an hour, and I took Crystal home that same evening. I suggested for Mr K to come and visit Crystal at least twice a week, so that she wouldn’t be so stressed in the new environment. Anyway, he should take this chance to see her more often, because she's not getting younger.

Her first night in a home and on a nice, soft bed
When we got home, Crystal immediately started walking around, delighted with her freedom. She walked nonstop for an hour, skidded a bit, got stuck in corners, fell... etc. but yet she got up again and again, and happily continued to explore. She ate, and she slept. For the first time in almost a decade, she finally got to sleep on something padded (3 thick towels) instead of the cold hard floor of a metal cage. Over the next 2 days, I could feel her happiness and her contentment grow. She was grateful for her freedom, for love, for a home, and for comfort – all the things that were deprived from her for so long.

Just chilling :-)

After a while, I noticed blood on the floor. Dismayed, I did a quick check, and 2 of Crystal's paws were red, sore and bleeding from years of standing on bars in that metal cage. As a result, her paws were also slightly deformed. In these first 2 days with her, I also noticed she circled a lot, and often to the right. I thought it stemmed from the years of being locked in cage, but I made a note to myself to ask the vet about it.

Very sore paws from years of standing on metal bars

Yesterday, I took Crystal to see a vet – something that she had not done for at least 10 years. Mr K met us there. We just wanted to do a general check up to make sure that Crystal is doing okay.

An extremely happy Crystal on her first day home (Crystal is blind, has no teeth and is slightly hard of hearing)

At the vet, we realised that Crystal weighs a mere 2.8kg! She is so frail that you feel you might hurt her just by holding her. It reminded us of Prince and Ah Boy. After a blood test, we found out that she has a severe heart murmur, and severe anemia. Her kidney wasn't working too well either. There was also a wart on her left shoulder that often bled. The vet also remarked that her paws were bleeding from all that time standing in a cage - but we already knew that. What we didn't anticipate was that Crystal's circling behaviour could be the result of a brain tumor, which is common in Maltese dogs, and unsurprising in a dog her age. The vet gave us some supplements for Crystal, and recommended that we do a subcut (subcutaneous cut) for her every alternate day, which is like kidney dialysis for dogs to flush out toxins.

Spending a nice lazy afternoon snoozing 

Her results were not terrible for such an old dog, but it still left me feeling gloomy at Crystal's plight. It's just so tragic that her life had played out this way. We should all be so lucky for our dogs to live to Crystal's ripe old age. Yet in all those years, what enjoyment did she have? Why did it even matter how long she lived, if all she had in life was that cage?

First night at foster home

Perhaps it had been too long a day, perhaps Crystal was stressed with the vet visit, or perhaps it was the medicines or really a tumour in her brain, we’ll never know. But that night, at 1am, Crystal had a series of seizures. Each seizure lasted 6 seconds, and it happened 3 times in 10 minutes. I was worried sick. And when it finally stopped, she remained restless, circling. No matter how I tried to calm her down, it didn't work. If I carried her in my arms, she would struggle to get down so that she could start to pace and circle again. At the end of one hour, she was finally completely exhausted. I took the opportunity to put her to bed, but then she stood up and threw up her dinner. That was it, I scooped her up and rushed her to the emergency vet. But it was no use, the vet too agreed that it was impossible to identify the cause of her seizures unless they conducted many more tests. All they could do was to ward Crystal for observation. But I didn't want her to be put in yet another cage, and so I insisted on taking her home.

As I watched, Crystal slept like a log at home for almost 14 hours. When she woke, it seemed that she had lost her appetite. Now, her days are spent sleeping, walking around, and drinking water. I carry her in my arms each time she starts circling. When she has to be home alone, she is put in a playpen for her own safety. Since I took Crystal home, my alarm is set to ring every hour throughout the night. I wake up to check that she is still breathing, and if she peed in her playpen, I change her pee pad, clean her up and put her back to sleep.

I am dismayed at how much she has weakened, and I very much want to keep alive that little glimmer of happiness I saw in her when she first came home with me. It’s so amazing how one can bring home a dog, and just immediately fall in love with her and accept her as part of the family.

Mr K told me that he used to take Crystal to East Coast Beach when she was young; that’s on our urgent to-do list. I don’t know how long I have with Crystal, but I pray that she stays with us long enough to enjoy her newfound freedom. It is my greatest honor to know Crystal, and to have this chance to care for her.

Crystal needs pee pads (45cm X 60cm, and the bigger ones 60cm X 90cm) and wet tissues. Please help us to care for Crystal in her old age. If you are able to contribute these items, please get in touch with us at hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg.

Clarification : The shop where Crystal was boarded did try their best to care for her. They let her out to walk about in the shop and customers also took Crystal out for fresh air :-)


The Amazing Matthieu

What? Another video about a black dog? When you see this video, this might be one of the thoughts running through your mind. Yes, it seems like Matthieu is just another regular black dog, another of our pitiful rescues that is of a colour traditionally thought of by the Chinese as a harbinger of bad luck. Yet, Matthieu is certainly not just another black dog. Each of our rescues is special and Matthieu is not any less unique or precious just because he is black. He is the one and only Matthieu and we are matt-ly in love with him. He is just so adorable, isn’t he? Just look at him amusing himself with his treat in the video.

Watch Matthieu playing with his treat https://youtu.be/NloKWnzuH2Q

Guess how old Matthieu is? Four or five? Neh... he is more than a decade old! Can’t tell huh? He behaves just like a little boy even though he is a senior dog who has weathered the storm. Our volunteers call him ‘Ah Pek’ affectionately. He is an old man in dog years but a puppy at heart. Poor Matthieu was paralysed from the waist down after an industrial accident and went through operations, acupuncture, massage and hydrotherapy sessions before he could walk without a wheelchair. 

Our favourite old man! 
His willpower to survive is so admirable and touching. He hung on to life and lived on courageously despite the cards being stacked against him. Looking at Matthieu today, one can never imagine that he was once meant to be put down due to the appalling condition that he was found in. He looks just like any normal healthy dog and is super affectionate and loving. Whenever the volunteers visit Matthieu to bring him for his walks, he would muster all his strength to move his body towards them and welcome them with a low ‘groo’ sound. He would also stuff his cute little snout into the volunteers’ hands when they give him pats and shower them with lots of sloppy licks. He is such a sweetheart. He really grows on you and the volunteers always look forward to walking him. It is the highlight of their week. Matthieu gets along well with his two friends, Kiwi and Woodie, who live in the same foster home as him. He loves them so much that he would never go on his walks without them. He is easy to care for and can be left alone for the most part of the day. He just needs some TLC, home cooked meals and at least one long walk per day so that he can exercise his legs, be in touch with his neighbourhood and bond with you.

Matthieu, handsome & amazing

Would you like to meet Matthieu? We are sure you would drop all your prejudices about black dogs after you have matt Matthieu and would fall matt-ly in love with him too. His cute face and sweet nature would be sure to melt your heart! Matthieu’s name means ‘Gift of God’. We truly think he is a gift of God and hope that you can be a gift of God to him and he can be a gift of God to you too. If you are interested in adopting Matthieu and giving him the furever home that he craves and deserves so much, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg

Thank you! *sloppy kisses and exposed belly in love and gratitude from Matthieu* 

Written by : Weiling