What does it mean to adopt a special needs dog?

Special needs dogs are among the most challenging for rescues and shelters to place; many never find their fur-ever home and are left to whatever end fate deals them. At Hope Dog Rescue, every furry friend is precious to us but it is hard to deny that it is the "extra-special" ones like Harper, Matthieu and Sida that strike a chord in our hearts. Life on the streets has dealt them many harsh blows yet they have managed to press on with an admirable spirit. They may look or behave differently from their other four-legged friends; but it doesn't change anything inside of them.

The Diaper Club : Matthieu, Harper, SiDa (left to right)

SiDa and Harper sunbathing at Sentosa Cove on their monthly outings

Many people see physical deformities in a dog as a liability or shortcoming, but this just isn’t true. Nor is it true that a dog with a medical or mental problem is any "less" of a dog. They are not "incomplete" or "imperfect"; they are simply different. The real "problem" is that they require extra care and treatment for their conditions, be it medications, a special diet, training and more time for companionship, which may equate to more money spent.

Our fav charming old man, Matthieu

Harper loves being on her wheels; she loves her independence

For people who just want to adopt a pet and not a family member, this added expense may present an issue and deter them from choosing dogs with special needs. It is common to find special needs dogs overlooked for more “ideal” dogs. Though sad but true; their "specialness" puts them at a great disadvantage when it comes to being adopted.

Baby Harper

Matthieu is slowly learning to accept and use his new wheels 

At the heart of our mission is giving our street animals HOPE - a second chance at the life they deserve. When you adopt a special needs dog, you are doing something many others will not, and that makes you real special too. For those who can afford the time and expense (which may not be as exorbitant as imagined), why not try to look beyond the surface and into the hearts and souls of these special friends? You'll find that they can teach you a lot about determination, patience, resilience and love without judgment; something that is increasingly scarce in this society.

SiDa the Queen

Email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg if you would like to meet Matthieu, SiDa or Harper.

All this royal dog wants is pat pat all day long

Written by: Wee Yen
Photography by: Dean & Felicia


Baby Star

Twinkle Twinkle Baby Star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky, twinkle twinkle Baby Star, how I wonder what you are.” 

Hello everypawdy! My name is Baby Star and I am a 4 months young male puppy. My elder sister is Alyssa, from a different litter. Do you know her? She is very cute too! Don’t you think we look alike? 

I do not twinkle and reside in the skies above but I am still a star. I even have my own fan club! A group of volunteer feeders come to visit me and feed me without fail every Saturday. They shower me and my friends with lots of love and attention and we are so grateful towards them for the yummy food that they feed us every week. One of them likes to sing the song above to me when she feeds me. 

Last Saturday, the volunteers came to feed me and my friends as usual. We welcomed the volunteers with wagging tails and sloppy licks and waited for them to feed us. After we had our fill, the volunteers bade us goodbye and continued feeding other dogs in the area. About an hour or so later, the volunteers returned. We thought they were going to feed us more food but strangely, instead of their food pails, they brought a cage out of the car. What are they trying to do? I had no idea but before I knew it, a gentle caress and hug became a night behind bars. The volunteers carried me and put me into a carrier. Are they bringing me on holiday? Where am I going and are they bringing my best friend Teddy along? Well, it turns out that they were bringing me to the vet for sterilisation. Teddy and my other friends from my factory have already been sterilised. It is now my turn.

At the clinic, the vet discovered lots of tiny fleas and ticks on me. After some tests, the vet also discovered that I have anaplasma, a tick-borne disease. As a result of anaplasma, I have low blood count and the vet is not able to castrate me. I would need to be treated for anaplasma first. 

The volunteers are not able to afford my vet bills. Could you kindly help me pawtty please? I would be so grateful to you! Can you imagine a bright star with its lights being dimmed by hundreds and thousands of black ticks on it? Isn’t that so sad? And I’m just a baby! If you can lend me a paw and help with my vet bills and buy some frontline and medicine for me for a month, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg. Thank you! 

The vets says I need medication for 21 days and the workers at my factory will feed me my medications and I will be sterilized in a month or so when I am feeling better. ! *innocent grateful puppy eyes and happy licks* 

Written by : Weiling


Stray Feeding – When will it be their last meal?

Every Saturday without fail for the last 10 years, rain or shine, volunteers from Hope Dog Rescue have been distributing canned food and feeding the stray dogs in factories and construction sites. Over the years, due to factories shutting down, construction sites completing their building projects, culling measures, and accidents, the number of dogs that we have been feeding has been dwindling gradually. Whenever we visit a feeding site and call out to the regular dogs we feed, we will anxiously do a “headcount”. Sadly, the numbers just keep dipping. Our hearts sink when the dogs do not come running up when we call out to them, and we’ll know instinctively that the inevitable had happened. All we can do is to keep up with the feeding every week, so that their tummies will be filled, not knowing when will it be their last meal.

Other than feeding them, we regularly check them for wounds and injuries so that we can quickly administer first aid and try as much as possible, prevent them from succumbing to their injuries eventually. Maggot wounds are the worst because it is the most painful way to die as the maggots progressively eat away their flesh. We also apply Frontline on them so that their tick condition can be better managed.

Puppies are often run over by vehicles when they are old enough to walk and go out in search of food

Strays lead a very hard life and are exposed to the elements every day. When it is raining, they lie beneath tractors and huddle together to keep warm. When it is scorching hot, they do not always have fresh water to quench their thirst. They lap up puddles of water along the roads which are usually contaminated by chemical waste. Very often, a newly rescued dog will have multiple health issues due to the constant amount of tainted food and water they consume. Very frequently, some of them are found with broken teeth, receding gums, and a bloated tummy, a grim testament to the stones and twigs they gnawed down in a desperate attempt to fill their bellies.

Being at the mercy of the weather is the least of our many worries. What’s more appalling is these dogs are often casualties of factories’ and construction accidents, where they do not react fast enough away from danger. Road accidents are also another cause of the stray dogs’ untimely demise. And victims of these road accidents die in the most grisly way, no thanks to the reckless truck and lorry drivers. We try to save the ones who were barely found alive, and even with emergency surgeries and medical treatment, some were paralyzed for the rest of the lives. Countless lost their lives alone and in dire circumstances.

The least we can do is to fulfill their most basic needs, food and water, for as long as they are alive and well. Stray feeding is more than just distributing food to the dogs. Every Saturday, we activate “Hope Chefs”, who will prepare broth, meat, eggs and rice in large quantities. These are then transported to our feeding site, where another group of volunteers will mix the cooked food with kibbles and separate them into portions for our volunteers to distribute. Each driver/car will then go with 2 or 3 volunteers to the different factories and construction sites to distribute the food.

It's a huge weekly team effort

Next comes the best part of the night, where we are met with waggly tails and excited barks. The friendlier ones who recognize us will allow our volunteers to pat them and give them belly rubs. Some of the more wary ones will observe us from afar, and only eat when we move away. Although these dogs are starving, some of them are so sweet and will come to us for pats and cuddles before devouring the food. There is one extremely cute one who can’t decide if he rather eat first or get pats first and alternate between eating a few bites and coming back for pats and back to the food again. We told him we’ll wait for him to finish eating first and then he can come back for more cuddles. Who wants to adopt this sweetie-pie?

This is the sweetie pie who can't decide on what he wants

Every time we leave a feeding site, each and everyone one of us pray and hope that we’ll see them again the next week. One last pat, one last kiss and a whisper to them to stay safe and off they frisk away, not knowing what lies ahead.

We need cooks, drivers and volunteers in order to continue putting food in the dogs’ bellies. Do reach out to us if you can help, as every little bit from you means we can do more for them.

If you would like to contribute to our stray feeding efforts, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg.

Written by : Jamie
Photography by: Dean