Thursday, February 27, 2014

Goodbye Wanda

Do you remember my sweet, when it was just you, me, Poppet, and Butch all the time. I was still new on Langkawi island then. I didn't have any friends. I had just moved in with you pooches, the only human in the dog shelter. All the other dogs had their own rooms but you three were my roommates. You immediately accepted me and welcomed me to the pack. You, me, and Poppet slept on the big bed together. Butch was usually on his sheet-covered sofa or on the floor between the little cupboard and the bed. He would sleep peacefully and deeply all night. He hardly made a sound. You and Poppet though... You girls were nocturnal rascals. I don't know what it was about bedtime that always made you girls decide it was time for wrestling and bitey-face. I'd try to sleep while your playfights shook and jostled the bed. After a while you'd lose interest and sleep while Poppet stayed awake and chewed on my arm contentedly. You were older and you tired quickly. Butch usually just cast a wary eye at all this playing, sighed, and slept dreaming of food, food, glorious food. The other dogs in the shelter often howled but you and Poppet never joined in the noise-making. You never even seemed to notice. Surprisingly, Silent Butch would join in but his howling was tiny and plaintive (so cute!), not what you'd expect from such a big chunky boy like him.

Those days the four of us spent a lot of time together didn't we. Then Nugget joined us and our little pack of 4 became 5. Remember in the evenings you, me, Nugget, and Poppet would play in the yard. The grass was always long then; Tul and Dipin hadn't joined LASSie yet, and the grass wasn't getting cut regularly. You all liked playing in the long grass and sometimes I imagined that we were all in a beautiful meadow somewhere. Butch always spent these playtimes lying in a doorway avoiding baby Nugget. He didn't want to be friends with an annoying silly pupper but you and Poppet were great with Nugget! I remember how grateful I was that you both loved him. We were like a family. You tolerated Nugget even when he was annoying. Sometimes his exuberance even improved your mood on days you were cranky. You'd try to ignore him or tell him off when he wouldn't leave you alone. But somehow his joyful nature was contagious and often you'd forget you were cranky and your attempts at scolding him usually became playing. He made you young again. I loved that.

Remember the stars? At night we'd all sit on the porch steps together. I really loved the stars then. I was a big city girl not used to seeing more than a few stars in the sky. The Langkawi night sky blew me away with its beauty. We'd sit there in the dark silence with all the lights off, my hand on your back, my arm around Poppet, Butch behind me silently willing me to give him more food. I would look at the stars and listen to us breathe and then we'd go all go inside and get ready for bed. Things were simple then and you were one of the best friends I had ever had. I miss our companionable silences. No one had to say or do anything. We were just together and that was good for us. I haven't looked at the stars for a long time. I got so used to them. I stopped looking up all the time and sitting outside in the dark with you. I forgot that was one of the things I loved most about this island life. I got distracted by other things my sweet. I'm sorry about that. I wish we could have one more night on the porch together under the stars.

Sometimes you were upset or moody and you wouldn't come out from under the bed. I understand. I have mood swings too and sometimes I just want to be left alone. We gave each other space when it was needed. You liked alone time and so did I. We were alike that way my sweet.

You often had a skin infection between your paw pads. It would get sore and ooze and you would get cranky but you let me wash it every day. We had problems with your antibiotics in the beginning didn't we. I couldn't get you to take them, not even when they were hidden in wet food or chicken. You'd sniff them out, eat what you liked, and spit out the meds on the floor. I'm so glad we discovered the power of cheese. You loved cheese so much you'd gobble it without realizing I had hidden something in there. I started making sure I always had some in the fridge, in case I needed to give you medication. I called it "Emergency Cheese". You had problems with your ears too but you didn't mind the ear drops. Remember when you and Poppet had that ridiculous fight. What was that all about? I can't help thinking you started it. Dipin had to carry you to the clinic and after that your daily wound cleaning became an ordeal my stubborn one. I'm not very strong and carrying you to the clinic (because you planted your feet and refused to walk) every afternoon almost killed me.

I miss you. I should have visited more often. I'm sorry I wasn't there when you let go of this life. I love you very much.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My second trip to Langkawi LASSie this month :)

Even though I just got back from Langkawi, I was back there within a month! I couldn't stay away. That, and N asked me to come back for 1 week to make sure I was absolutely positive I wanted to uproot myself and my pets and move there to work. I didn't get to meet the head volunteer DA during my first trip because she was on vacation so I missed out on a lot of learning and shelter operations stuff. DA is not just head volunteer. She does practically everything and all out of the kindness of her heart. She trains the volunteers and staff, walks, feeds, cleans, loves the dogs and cats, is in charge of the daily running of the shelter, everything from making sure sick critters get their medication, to organizing housing for volunteers. She is the glue that holds the shelter together. She comes in every single day during her spare time in addition to being a yoga instructor. Some people have so much energy, are so driven and dedicated. I'm amazed.

This second trip to LASSie was definitely busier than the first and I mean that in a good way. I was more involved and more absorbed in everything I did. I definitely got to know the animals better, their individual personalities, quirks and habits. DA helped me to familiarize myself with all the day-to-day shelter operations. This includes the cleaning routines and the feeding and walking schedules, making sure all the resident animals are happy campers.

I had a blast with all the other volunteers. Being with like-minded people is just terrific. An understanding of our motivations is present and there is no need to explain anything. No one asked whether this spoiled city girl can live in an animal shelter on an island. No one questioned my determination to do this. They just understood. And yes, I can live in an animal shelter on an island. I have quit my cushy finance job, I'm packing up all my pretty high heeled shoes, corporate power outfits, jewelry, and other prissy city girl things. I'm moving out of my beautiful apartment and its ok. I don't need the lagoon style pool, the bathtub, walk-in closet, the hardwood floors, and my big comfy bed. Those things are lovely but I can live without them. Lots of people do. I'm giving up traffic, office politics, and being stuck at a desk all day working with dry dull numbers. I'll be on an island working with animals baby!! WOOHOO!!!

My goodness how i digress. I'm supposed to be talking about my latest LASSie experiences. Here I go :)

My first day there started pretty routine but on my second day major drama unfolded between two dogs, Scotty and Lucy. Usually, these two get along like a house on fire. They are roommates and have similar personalities. They're mellow, sweet, totally non-aggressive or food possessive, they're not nuisance barkers, they don't even jump around. I just totally love them. Ok, to be honest, they are my favorite pair, and I love hanging out in their room more than anyone else's. There I said it. I have favorites! (Bad Havetailwillwag!) So anyway, I was hanging out on the porch with two other volunteers EC and LB while we watched Lucy and Scotty enjoy their time running in the yard. Suddenly, for no reason that we could see, they started fighting, badly. We were stunned. These dogs are the last ones you'd expect to fight. They were moving so quickly and viciously we could not grab their collars to separate them because they were biting each other's faces. I think I started to panic. I thought they were going to kill each other before we could stop them. Finally in a desperate bid to stop the violence, we poured water on them. Luckily this worked, but the damage had been done. Lucy was limping and Scotty was bleeding profusely from a puncture wound on his left cheek. I have never seen so much blood in my life. The blood was just pouring out of his face all over the porch. It looked like a murder scene. I held him by his collar then and tried to comfort him and calm him down while the other volunteers checked on Lucy. Scotty's blood poured out all over my hands and feet. The closest thing I could reach to press to his face was a bed sheet. Needless to say, no one will be using that bed sheet again. The girls and I joked that it looked like we had killed someone on the sheet. LB ran to get one of the vets while EC and I stayed with the pooches. Fortunately, the wounds looked worse than they were. All that blood made for some pretty dramatic scenes! We were all pretty shaken for the rest of the day. Lucy and Scotty are still my favorites. You should've seen when they were eventually reintroduced to each other. They were so apologetic and trying to play. It was obvious they really missed each other. Ahhh young love :)

I'm embarrassed to report that I was dragged down a wet slope on my butt by a very short, very stout, sausagey kind of mixed breed pooch (pictures of her on previous LASSie post). Mocha has got to be the strongest dog I have ever walked. Do not be fooled by her stumpy outward facing legs and feet. I thought walking her would be a nice relaxing stroll but she is a force of nature! I was not at all prepared when she suddenly took off down a wet slope headed straight for the marsh in front of the Bon Ton restaurant. My feet flew out from under me and I landed flat out on my back. As I struggled to get up, Mocha tried to lunge off again! Of course I fell again. This time I didn't try to get up, I just lay there holding onto her leash and hoped my dead weight would prevent her from making a run for it. I was wrong. She still pushed on, trying to drag me as I lay there.

On Doc LK's birthday, we had another disaster. For me, this one was a first, and I was devastated. Three men brought a male puppy in a tiny cage to the clinic. He looked to be about 5 months old. He was very thin and the cage was just big enough for him to lie down in it :( I should've known this would end badly but when Doc LK asked for someone to help her with the examination I was all "ME !! ME!!" like an annoying over-enthusiastic student in a classroom. Oblivious to the gravity of the situation, I thought puppy was just a little hurt and I already imagined him healthy and healed and frolicking around with his tail wagging and a smile on his puppy face. It didn't occur to me that the reason why he lay so quietly without moving in the cage was because he was already almost gone :( I just thought he was such a good boy and maybe tired and scared. His eyes were open after all...

Before leaving the men said that he had run through some wire fencing and cut himself under his right foreleg the night before. They did not stay to see how he would fare. They must've lied. When Doc LK lifted up his leg to see the wound, it stank, and it was already maggot infested. The maggots were big and mature. That doesn't happen in half a day. It must've happened 3 or 4 days before and they just let this little puppy bleed and cry and suffer. I can't imagine his fear and suffering. My heart aches to think of how the life was slowly going out of him while they did nothing. He was so quiet because he was in shock. He wasn't even conscious anymore. He was completely unresponsive but as Doc LK looked for a vein to put the IV drip in, I continued to stroke his head and talk to him hoping that he could feel some comfort from my hands. I wanted so badly for us to make everything ok and make his pain stop but my wishing was not enough. Before Doc LK could find a vein, he started to seize and tense up. He had these spasms and I knew we were losing. I've seen my foster kittens die like that before but always because of illness, not because of human negligence. Doc LK quickly rushed him into another room with Dr T to intubate and perform cpr on puppy but after trying to resuscitate him for a while they knew he was not coming back. Emotional me, I cried. I was so so so sad and angry. I cried in front of everyone. Couldn't stop it. My eyes are welling up with tears as I type this. I'm really going to have to get a hold of my emotions if I'm going to be of any use to the shelter. MUST BE STRONGER. But damn the people who let him suffer. Damn them.

DA decided that we should bury him next to the clinic. She dug a hole with the help of some of the volunteers and we laid him down in there, covered in a white sheet. A large dried coconut was placed over him to mark his grave. Rest in peace little darling. Doc LK and Doc T did their best. It was just too late. I hope you're having fun over there across the rainbow bridge, free from pain and fear, running and playing as a puppy should. I will never forget you. We will continue to work for other animals like you and pray for the day that we have better animal cruelty laws in Malaysia. There is nothing now to protect an animal from human negligence but one day these heartless people will be held accountable for their treatment of others like you and they will be punished because your life mattered. Feeling really emo right now so I better stop writing!

I will be returning to Langkawi LASSie on the 9th of June with all my pets. Wish me luck everyone. I hope I can do some good.

One of the clinic kitties :)
Butch is wary of me because I've ambushed him with ear drops.
Ayumi or Kecik? I get confused... They look the same!
Mr White and Peaches
Mr White