THIS may be the Year of the Fire Boar, but for me, the recent festive celebrations centred around dogs, rather than pigs. It seemed almost as if the outgoing Dog didn’t want to take its final bow until it had left some indelible memories for me.
It all began on Feb 14, Valentine’s Day.
My best able-bodied buddy, Andrew Martin, decided to trade his old car for a brand new one. Not only does Andrew drive around in a flashy car these days, my dogs get their share of rides too.
My senior service dog, Vai the Rottweiler, and young Reba, the Shetland Sheepdog, get to be chauffeured over a distance of 45km daily from Andrew’s home to mine and back – something the canines have been doing for the past three years. Except, of course, that the pooches now get to do it in style and comfort.
Andrew’s old car holds lots of unforgettable memories, including that of when he came to my rescue a few years ago.
I was stranded near Templer’s Park in Selangor with my three dogs in the car following a minor accident on the road.
The dogs and I had to move from my car to his in the pouring rain in order to make it home.
What a sight it must have been for passers-by: three large dogs in the middle of nowhere, and me with my wheelchair.
On the second day of Chinese New Year, Andrew and I visited Dr Jon Satyamoorthy, my service dogs’ veterinarian.
His Rottweiler had given birth to eight lovely puppies. I was seriously considering adopting a female pup as a replacement for my 11-year-old Rottie who has retired as service dog. But owning a dog is a heavy responsibility and a lifetime commitment, and I need more time before making a final decision.
Playing with those pups reminded me of Bobo, the poor white mongrel that one of our neighbours had conveniently abandoned during the Chinese New Year holidays.
As a result, Bobo became a nuisance to the neighbours. He turned over rubbish bins and generally made a mess in his search for food. I can’t believe how people can be so cruel and inconsiderate.
I know many disabled and even elderly people with dogs who would never dream of putting their pets in such a predicament. It is a shame when the able-bodied neglect the animals under their care.
It is ironic that Bobo – if he survives – will be the first to give his owners a warm welcome when they return home.
Finally, a wonderful account of true canine loyalty: a group of disabled friends and I, comprising the blind, those in wheelchairs, the learning disabled, and the elderly, visited Razak Walk at the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) in Kepong, Selangor, on the fourth day of Chinese New Year.
Razak Walk is a special area in FRIM which has disabled-friendly features so that the handicapped can enjoy the wonders of nature. We were there to give user-friendly advice regarding the facilities. I took Soo, my Golden Retriever.
No sooner had we arrived when it started to rain heavily. There was no place to take shelter. We had to stay under the pelting rain for half an hour, with umbrellas above our heads.
Though I had some protection with my brolly, Soo didn’t. He was drenched. This was the first time Soo had been caught in such a situation but he never budged. He just stood there in the rain with me for the full half hour.
Any other canine would have headed for cover but Soo stood virtually motionless and completely focused. As far as he was concerned, he has the most important job in the world, which is to never leave my side, no matter what.
That’s man’s best friend for you, folks!