We often see stray dogs wondering around in our neighbourhoods. They look for food and shelter. Kind Samaritans always leave food for these dogs, ensuring they do not go hungry. Some even find new owners for the dogs or adopt them as pets.
In August 2015, I found a small white dog wondering in front of my house. The first thought that came to me was, had the dog lost its way home? I asked my neighbours to check if the dog belonged to anyone in the neighbourhood. It was to no avail. Meantime, I fed the dog, providing it with food and water.
After a week, I still could not find any answers.
My neighbour brought it to the park nearby to see if there were any dog buddies of his.
After two days, the dog reappeared in front of my house.
Realising that the dog had been abandoned, my mum and I made the effort to find a new home for it – but failed.
We also took it to the veterinarian for a check-up and vaccination.
A friend even offered to take it to the dog shelter but she could not find the place. So, the dog was returned to me.
Instincts told me to adopt this cute dog. So I asked my dad for permission. The dog was adorable – it had a loving and cheerful face, long white fur and a brown patch on the left side of its body.
My mum named it Hiro. He became part of our family. He had an elder sister, Doggie (our other pet).
Every morning and evening, Hiro went for a walk with Doggie. They received the same food three times a day. They played together.
Hiro was very cheeky, always enjoyed disturbing Doggie and wanted to win when playing together.
Doggie, being a very patient and easygoing sister, always gave in to her brother. She adored Hiro so much that she was protective of him. Both lived a wonderful life together for seven years.
In March this year, Hiro was diagnosed with kidney disease. The days were challenging for Hiro and our family.
At the beginning, Hiro could not hold his urine, and urinated indoors. So I bought him dog diapers to wear. Every couple of hours, I had to change his diapers and clean him up. During those days, my mum had to place mats and plastic bags on Hiro’s sleeping areas so that whenever there was a urine leakage, there would be less cleaning up to do. It was not an easy task.
Hiro had to be taken to the veterinarian almost every week for treatment. He was given different medications because his symptoms changed every now and then. I also bought various supplements, as advised by the veterinarian. Hiro also was put on a special diet.
But the disease progressed, which led to more symptoms.
A friend recommended a more experienced veterinarian, so I took Hiro there to seek further treatment. At that time, Hiro could still enjoy life. He was hand-fed his meals. He continued to play with Doggie every day. There was an amazing connection between them.
Recently, Hiro’s condition deteriorated tremendously, to the point that he refused to eat.
As I was away working, my mum took Hiro to the vet. His blood test showed very poor results. He had to be administered subcutaneous fluids, a very painful procedure to inject a sterile solution directly under his skin.
Hiro underwent the treatment for a week – he cried loudly each time the nurse conducted the procedure. However, on the positive side, his appetite returned and the veterinarian prescribed a renal diet for Hiro.
Because I was not at home, my cousin assisted my parents. It was extremely challenging and tiring to take care of a sick dog but none of us gave up on Hiro. I even video-called Hiro every night and spoke to him, telling him about my daily work and life abroad.
Hiro was a very intelligent dog – he understood when his name was called, he would look at the phone screen and blink. I became very excited, as did Hiro. He was much happier and could eat a lot.
However, the happy times did not last long. On a recent Tuesday morning, Hiro passed away peacefully in his sleep. My mum rang to inform me. Tears just rolled down, my heart sank, and my mind became empty. It was very difficult for me to digest the news.
Hiro underwent Buddhist ritual chants and ceremony at the funeral parlour. My mum video-called me so that I could see Hiro for the final time before he was cremated. I cried non-stop when I said farewell to Hiro. Though I was so far away, my heart remained so close to Hiro.
Hiro went from being a stray dog to an adopted dog, and was my best companion. He brought cheer to the family every day, did funny tricks to make the family laugh, and became Doggie’s playmate. He was my everything.
Thank you, Hiro, for your companionship over seven years. You will remain in my heart forever.
To folks out there, never ignore stray dogs – they have feelings too, like humans, and they understand us in many ways. We are their world, and vice-versa. As the saying goes, dogs are a man’s best friend.