My Pet Story: Rescuing a cancer-riddled dog

Animal rescuer Joey Low with Jo'Black who is undergoing treatment at a clinic. Photos: Joey Low


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May 20: I receive a message via Messenger – on my dog Tesha’s Facebook page – seeking my help to rescue a stray dog.

The person who messages me is a very kind-hearted Malay lady who has been feeding stray dogs near her office for months.

She also posts the message to some groups to ask for help to rescue this dog with big wounds and lots of growths on his body. But no one responds.

I am busy and it is raining heavily, but I decide to go and rescue the dog. With the help of Elaine (a kind lady from an animal shelter) and Siti Aishah (the feeder), I manage to catch this dog. I send it straight to an experienced vet.

I name him Jo’Black.

His body is weak, and one eye is going blind due to some growths. Will the vet be able to save him?

Day 2

Jo’Black's condition is serious and complicated.

The journey is getting tougher. Today, I ("mama") visit him and spend some time with him. I also have a discussion with the vet, who says that: 1) the growths inside and on the body are confirmed to be cancerous; 2) Jo'Black has heart worms and ticks.

He is put on a drip, antibiotics and other medications. And he has to stay in the clinic for many days.

Either continue to treat or put back on the streets. Tough long journey with costly medical treatment. Mama seeks financial and prayer support from the pet lovers community on FB.

Day 3

Doctor says that Jo'Black does not want to eat the kibbles.

Mama has to find ways to get him to eat, so I cook chicken breast and pack it into every meal for him. I bring it to the clinic and the nurse will feed him.

He needs to grow stronger before the cancer treatment can start.I feel relieved when I see him finish the bowl of rice and chicken broth.

Day 4

He has a better appetite today but he still refuses to eat kibbles, and only wants rice and meat. I'll let him eat anything he wants, as long as he eats and grows stronger. Mama will need to continue cooking and packing meals for him. Hope he recovers soon.

The writer visiting Jo'Black at the animal clinic. The writer visiting Jo'Black at the animal clinic.

Day 8

Jo'Black will not be discharged anytime soon. He will need to stay in the clinic for many days.

Mama can’t put him back on the streets or have him discharged prematurely.

His wounds are getting dryer compared to Day 1, and his appetite is sometimes good and sometimes not.A shoutout: “Need support for his medical bill” (not including the cancer treatment yet).

Even a small token of support is much appreciated. Hope more people will pray for Jo'Black and share the cost of his treatment.

Day 12

Progress is slow, but there is some improvement: His eye which was red and protruding has subsided. That's good. Hopefully, he won't go blind. Also, his cancer wound is drying up, thanks to the daily application of medicine and the antibiotics.

The only thing is his appetite is still not so good – he is very choosy about food. So we are still working hard on this so that he eats and gets stronger.

Joey Low manages to get Jo'Black to drink some water.Joey Low manages to get Jo'Black to drink some water.

Day 16

Long discussion with the vet. Jo’Black has deteriorated. He refuses to eat or drink. He also refuses to walk much. Even when he walks, it's just a few steps and he heads for the door.

With much consideration and observation of his movements/ behaviour, mama has decided to bring him back home. He will be happier to be outdoors, see more greens and then hopefully he eats (if he doesn’t eat, the treatment can't be continued as he is too weak).

It is a very hard decision that the vet and I have to make. We want the best for him.

Mama also needs to find a suitable place within the house compound for him. And I have to learn how to feed, nurse and medicate him. A lot of commitment is needed.

Day 17

Mama doesn’t give up but feeds him, putting food bit by bit into his mouth – and he eats! Water also mama will pump into his mouth; he lifts his head and drinks! Whereas after his admission, he refused to eat and drink for three days.

Nevertheless, when mama moves his body a bit, he barks at me and bites my hand. I go to a clinic for dressing and an injection.

He wants to lie down on the grass, in the shade of the trees, and get some sun. He does not want mama to move him.

The doctor says to just let him make himself comfortable, and give him time to settle down. Then hopefully he will eat and drink.I pat him gently and hold his paw until he falls asleep. Hope he don’t bark in the middle of the night, but have a better sleep.

Day 18

Mama feeds him in the morning, and he eats and drinks. I accompany him and hold his paw.

Around noon, seeing him breathing slower and slower, I know the time has come ... He crosses the rainbow bridge peacefully, without screaming in pain or crying.

There are people with him till he breathes his last.

A proper cremation has been arranged for him.Mama feels the pain.

I am thankful to the vet, the community in the FB group, and all the donors who have been very responsive and supportive throughout, not forgetting Lim Chee Eng and family who assisted me when I had to work.Everyone put in a lot of thought, effort and time to help a rescued stray.Please continue to support stray animals, shelters and rescuers. We can't clap with just one hand; we need community efforts, energy and resources to help them.

The writer is an independent rescuer and feeder of stray animals. Some of the food is sponsored by the community. For more info and if you would like to support her efforts, visit Facebook @Tesha88 and Instagram @jotesha_n_frens.

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