Pak Mie’s legacy of love


MY close friend Adele lost her seven-year-old mongrel named Angel to a ureteral infection last November. Less than three months later her older dog, a cross between a spaniel and poodle named Princess, died from liver and heart failure.

In both cases, her family members had to make the difficult decision to put the dogs to sleep because they were suffering. But Angel and Princess died before they were to be put to sleep.

This did not mean that their deaths were any less painful for the family, especially when 11-year-old Princess left them just days before Chinese New Year.

Those who went through the same experience as Adele and her family would tell you that it was like losing a family member.

I could never quite understand the affection for a (pet) dog until I adopted a Shih Tzu from a friend two years ago. Christmas, a bouncy and furry friend, brings me much happiness.

His antics make me feel like he is the most loyal dog — he jumps up and down and runs in circles to greet me when I get home.

According to dog whisperer Cesar Millan, he loves dogs because they carry a notion of hope and have the ability to accept a person for who and what he is, making them man’s true best friend.

I get teary-eyed whenever I think of dogs like Christmas and their unbridled love for humans, and I’m inspired by individuals who go out of their way to care for animals.

Among the first that comes to mind is independent animal rescuer Muhammad Azmi Ismail, or fondly known as Pak Mie, who died on March 22 after a stroke.

His passing was a great loss to those who knew him and the furry friends he had cared for unconditionally.

Pak Mie, 57, and his wife Halijah Idris, 68, fondly known as Mak Intan, had been looking after stray dogs and cats since 1990. Their story came to light when a video of their work went viral in 2013.

Their shelter in Alor Setar houses about 700 dogs and 200 cats.

When he died, tributes in the form of thousands of condolence messages from Malaysians were posted on social media sites, including Pak Mie’s Facebook page. They praised him for his kindness towards his anak bulu (furry kids).

Mak Intan is now running the shelter with the help of Pak Mie’s 29-year-old son Alif Pandi and two volunteers.

When a pet leaves us, we feel the loss of a loved one. I believe that in Pak Mie’s case, the animals he cared for are grieving the loss of their loved one.

> The writer can be reached at cavina@thestar.com.my

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