IMAGINE being unable to walk or even sit up, and too afraid to let anyone near you. This was the fate of one poor dog that I had the opportunity to meet.
His name is Mr Gwing. At three months old, he was rescued by Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) from the Semenyih wet market in August 2011. He was badly deformed and was unable to move. MDDB also suspected that Mr Gwing was tortured, which resulted in his fear of people and caused him to bite anyone who touched him.
Due to Mr Gwing’s apprehension towards humans, he was covered in his own urine and faeces for the few days that he was at the veterinary clinic. The vet who treated him suggested euthanasia because no one was able to touch him. But one of MDDB’s volunteers took him into her home and nursed him to health.
Mr Gwing in the pink of health after much love and care
I met 26-year-old Derene Lee yesterday who recalled her experience in fostering the now two-year-old Mr Gwing.
“When we found him, he couldn’t move. He was wiggling like a worm,” she said.
“My hand got bitten a lot; he gave me a lot of scars. He used to be very very aggressive. I had to use heavy-duty padded gloves or towels when I carried him,” said Derene.
Derene said that she initially intended to just foster Mr Gwing, but ended up adopting him instead.
“I had a special connection with him. Two weeks after fostering him, I wanted to adopt him but my family was quite against it because I was still a student at that time. My mum said that I wouldn’t have time to take care of him,” she said.
But what happened next was nothing short of a miracle. After two months of physiotherapy, Mr Gwing learnt how to walk!
“He surprised everyone! Nobody, not even myself, expected him to walk,” said Derene.
Her family also began to come to terms with her decision to adopt Mr Gwing.
“My dad especially loves him. And he loves my dad very much as well,” she laughs.
But surprisingly, Derene didn’t always have a fondness for dogs. She told me that as a young girl, she was scared of dogs from the moment her aunt’s dog bit her.
“I still remember being chased by a puppy. I was so afraid! I think it wanted to play with me, but I was so afraid I ran, and then I fell face first and went to class with all my injuries,” she told me laughing.
“A stray made the difference, a stray changed me. It was the first dog I brought home and it was the first dog I had. Since then, I've loved dogs,” said Derene.
After that life-changing moment, Derene told me that she became a full-fledged animal lover.
“I’m the type of child that occasionally brings back animals to the house. My parents would say: ‘One more and I will kick you out of the house!’,” she said.
She said that she would also save up her pocket money to visit the pet shop to buy a hamster or tortoise.
Derene’s love for animals also grew over the years as she took in more strays and started volunteering at MDDB in 2009.
Her house is currently home to her two adopted dogs, five fostered dogs, one cat and three fostered cats.
I had the pleasure of meeting two of the dogs she was fostering, both of them with disabilities.
Three-month-old Valentino (a.k.a. Little V) was found dragging himself through the streets of Ipoh before he was rescued.
Valentino during a physiotherapy session.
Little V could not walk; his hind legs were paralysed and was only able to drag himself along. He was only four weeks old at that time and was all alone. MDDB suspects that his mother abandoned him because he was not able to keep up (animals are known to discard the weakest link in their litter).
The other puppy is called Patch: he is two-months-old, and he is one of the cutest puppies I have seen!
He was rescued by an independent rescuer who found him at the side of the road. Patch was unable to move as both his front paws were badly crushed. The bones in both paws were shattered and the wounds were seriously infected. Not knowing what to do, she turned to MDDB for help.
MDDB took him in, and he was transferred to numerous vets: the first suggested euthanasia, the second refused to treat him, and the third agreed that he should have a second chance in life.
“He (Patch) was supposed to be warded at the vet for several weeks for daily dressing. But one of our rescuers visited him, and saw him lying there, losing the will to fight for his life,” she said.
Derene then decided to tend to him at her home. She now has to dress Patch’s wounds daily.
“The first time was hard, the look of his wound and the smell was pretty bad, but then I got used to it,” she said.
Derene said that Patch doesn’t seem to be in as much pain, although his wounds are still bloody.
“He’s the king of the house! He chases after all the big dogs,” she exclaimed.
Valentino, on the other hand, is undergoing extensive therapy (the same therapy that Mr Gwing underwent). He has daily physiotherapy for his hind legs, 100 times for each leg, three times a day.
“He also goes for traditional Chinese veterinary medicine by Dr Susanna at Asia Paws, where he’s being treated with Chinese herb medication and acupuncture,” she said.
Valentino undergoing acupuncture to overcome his disability.
She adds that he also has daily hydrotherapy sessions at home and in a doggy pool once a week (he hates water!) to help with his muscle movement.
Derene often fosters dogs for months until they are fully recovered and have a new family to go home to.
I really do admire Derene. She has sacrificed so much to care for these dogs that may have been euthanised by others.
Derene has also taken a step back in her career in contemporary music so that she can spend more time with her furry family members.
“I was studying for five years in contemporary music. I perform less now because of all of them. When you perform, it’s usually at night, so you come home late and you hardly spend time with them. So I mostly teach now. I teach three days a week,” she told me.
I have huge respect for these amazing people who save animal’s lives. People like Derene and other volunteers at MDDB who save disabled dogs and nurse them to health are true heroes.
It was amazing to see the ‘before’ photos of the dogs I saw yesterday and witness how much they have improved. The once dirty, hurt and unloved dogs are now happily wagging their tails and smiling up at you. It is truly a miracle!
To find out more information on MDDB and how you can help, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MalaysianDogsDeserveBetter or their blog http://malaysiandogsdeservebetter.blogspot.com/
If you are interested in adopting a dog or puppy from MDDB, visit their adoption drives: Second Sunday of the month at Submit, third Sunday at Jaya One, fourth Sunday at Submit (for adult dogs only).