My Pet Story: See you later, Skye


Skye is a stickler for routine. Photo: Sulochana K. Indran

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There were tears in our eyes on the day the pet movers came to take Skye on her journey to her family and new home. She took a part of us with her that day.

My husband and I became temporary caretakers of our daughter’s pet dog, Skye, a Miniature Schnauzer, while waiting to acquire the mandatory health certifications and permits for her quarantine in Singapore, where our daughter and husband settled recently.

The pet transporter company van arrived in the dead of night to whisk away our Skye who was moving and sniffing about in her kennel curious and confused. We were so relieved that she did not bark or whine, pleading to get out. Nonetheless, it was heart-wrenching for both of us, knowing we would only see her on our trips to Singapore. That Skye seemed calm meant she already had an uncanny notion that the day had arrived for her to finally join her beloved mama and daddy.

We undertook guardianship of Skye with some trepidation initially, confident only of our love for her. We soon eased into a routine, our schedules shifting almost naturally to fit in all the added tasks we had to perform on the clock to keep Skye happy and healthy.

The Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions worked in our favour, keeping my husband and me mostly at home, allowing us more time to care for, and enjoy, Skye. Without a doubt, she was always on top of our minds.

As Skye was already accustomed to us before her stay at our home, she did not suffer much separation trauma although in the early days she seemed to be troubled by my daughter’s absence. She would lie down close to the front door awaiting my daughter’s return or sniff about in the bedroom and bathroom frequently used by my daughter.

As the days passed by, Skye settled in, feeling free to explore every nook and cranny of our house. She also got much closer to the humans who suddenly became a constant in her life. It could be the sudden disappearance of my daughter and son-in-law that made Skye wary of our movements. Even when napping in the hall or dining area, she would suddenly lift her head up at the slightest noise or disturbance to ensure her humans are still around and do not stray too far from her.

Skye was also determined to share her time with all the humans at home.

She would lay herself down in front of the closed bathroom door or room door, waiting patiently for us to appear again. Many a time, she sat waiting for my husband to emerge from his room after an online meeting. She would sprint up the stairs on hearing our son’s room door open, to greet him with howls and licks in exchange for loving pats.

This would also be an opportunity to sniff around his room.

Skye’s affection for her humans was amply demonstrated every time she welcomed any of us home, however short or long our absence. Her short tail wagging uncontrollably, she would howl, squeal, make strange almost human-like sounds while reaching up to lick our faces, hands or any body part. This heart-warming welcome always brought a smile to our lips and soothed away the aches of the day.

If Skye is anything, she is a stickler for routine. She instinctively knew her meal and snack times almost to the minute and more than once had to remind us by walking up to us, fidgeting and staring and flicking her tongue out. She has a wide, food-related vocabulary and often we would spell the words out to not alert her, but her acute sense of smell always brought her to the source of her favourite treats. She was even astute enough to position herself strategically at the feet of the messiest eater during mealtimes, hopeful of crumbs and bits of food coming her way.

Still Skye’s enthusiasm for food only comes a close second to her time-sensitive favourite activity – going for her “walkies”, a term introduced by our daughter.

Unable to contain her excitement, Skye barks and yelps even before we are out the door for the mandatory morning and evening walk in our neighbourhood.

As much as we enjoyed our walks with Skye, we would always remain vigilant, and I believe other dog owners too, who have been assaulted by Skye’s high-pitched, relentless barking at the scent and sight of other dogs. We would try not to cross paths with other dog walkers and felt touched when considerate dog owners turned a corner or waited it out to avoid setting Skye off.

In our eyes, Skye is well-behaved and fuss-free, so we forgive her few quirky habits – chewing rubber door stoppers, paper, smelly socks and carpets with tassels. We also have not been able to quell her loud “stranger-danger” barking frenzy whenever the doorbell rings or we have visitors.

Whether or not we were prepared, we certainly were privileged to have Skye with us for six months, an experience we will cherish and recall fondly throughout our lives – Skye’s intelligence and intuitive nature, and unbridled love and affection for her humans, seeking warm hugs and the comfort of our arms and laps, and enjoying rough and tumble playtime.

So when it was finally time for Skye to depart, safely tucked inside her kennel, we knew we could never say goodbye. We chose the only words that gave her solace, and gave us solace too, whenever we left her home alone: “See you later, Skye.”

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Pets , family pets , pet ownership , dog behaviour

   

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