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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Koala Mama and her pupparoos, new photos and a little update.

Koala Mama and her 6 pups have gone to a fosterer who lives in a house and has a big tiled, covered, walled backyard area. They'll have more room to run around as they become more active and grow bigger. With me they were stuck in a stuffy little room. I really miss Koala Mama though. I think we have a special bond. She seems to growl at everyone but me. For some reason, she instantly trusted me and I could handle her pups within 5 minutes of meeting her. But this is not so for anyone else. Perhaps we are meant to be or something. I feel very attached to her and I think she is attached to me too. My hope is that after her puppies are weaned and adopted, maybe I can find a way to adopt Koala. She's a perfect pooch. Doesn't bark, doesn't chew anything, paper-training her was a breeze, and she loves cuddles and hugs. I'm off to langkawi island again for a week to work and stay at the animal sanctuary and i hope i get to visit koala and the pups when i return.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tamago's health scare, Koala Mama and her pupparoos

Wow what a week its been. I'm tired and I'm not even working. Oh yeah did I mention that i quit my finance job and plan to move to Langkawi island to work at the animal sanctuary? That's why i was there a couple of weeks ago.. To test the waters a bit. I'll be going again next week for a week to discuss my responsibilities and living arrangements and whatnot with the LASSie people. Really excited to finally live my dream of working with animals on an island paradise. But before that there are other things I want to share with you.

My wee Tamago had some sort of stroke/brain malfunction/system meltdown thing last saturday evening. I know she's old (about 9 years old now) but still I didn't expect that to happen at all. Remember she always seems young to me because I've only had her a year. She was asleep behind her bed and I was reading in mine. I heard her wake up and start to climb into her bed and then suddenly stop. I looked over at her and was confused by what I saw. She seemed frozen halfway in and out of her bed with her front legs in over the side, her back legs dangling outside, and her tummy resting on the cushioned edge. It took me a moment to realize that she couldn't move. In my panic I picked her up and she began to tremble violently. I quickly put her on my bed and she just crumpled unable to even sit up. Her head was tilted to one side and bobbing. Her eyeballs twitched uncontrollably in their sockets. During this episode I was talking to her and calling her name but she didn't respond or seem to see me. Holy shit I thought it was all over for my little Tamago.

I called my friends NT and AC in hysterical tears asking for emergency vet numbers (It was after business hours and a public holiday). I also contacted SL from KL Pooch Rescue for her emergency contact. In the end I brought Tamago to the Gasing vet where a Dr T came to help us. My parents had to pick me up and drive us because I'm not familiar with the Gasing area at all. Without all the testing its impossible to know for sure what happened but Dr T said there were two possibilities. One, that Tamago had a stroke, or two that a growth in her brain may have caused the episode. An MRI will show if there's a growth but strange thing, Tamago could walk just two hours after the episode. She was wobbly and fell lots but she could walk. By the next day she was back to her old self. It was like nothing had happened. Absolutely no symptoms from the day before. Very mysterious... Let's hope this brain thing doesn't happen again! So scary.

Last week I saw a photo of a mama dog and her newborn puppies desperately trying to stay dry under a van during a storm. Of course they were completely soaked through as water continued to flow and swirl over them. It was a heartbreaking sight. The person who posted the photo on facebook was looking for someone who could provide a foster home. Now, usually I don't foster dogs because I live in a condo and pets aren't allowed, but I couldn't stand the thought of that dog just trying to take care of her babies in the dirty water so I offered my home. I figured I could supervise them more and make sure the noise level was kept to a minimum because I'm home lots now that I'm not working and in the meantime the various rescue groups could find a more suitable home.

Koala Mama and her 6 beautiful babies moved in with me on Monday night. She has 4 little girls and 2 bigger bully boys. They are about 3 weeks old and some of them have opened their eyes. They are precious chubby little lumps of love and oh my god I can't handle their unbelievable cuteness and fragility. I'm in love! Teeny paw pads and velvety ears - Squeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!! Little muzzles and toothless yawns - AWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!! But let me tell you about Koala.

When she was first brought to my home I was told that she was very defensive over her puppies, barking and growling warnings at strangers. At first I was a little wary, worried that my neighbors might hear her and complain but not a peep came out of her when we met. She observed me quietly without malice or fear. After her rescuers left we eyed each other for a bit and I just sat with her and talked. She allowed me to rearrange her nest and handle her babies. That night itself she began to shadow me constantly. After the first time I scratched around her ears and chin she decided that she was in love with me. She became so busy with shadowing me and staring at me adoringly that she needed to be reminded about her pups. They would cry for milk and mothering and she would just stare at me in wonder, oblivious to their cries. Poor girl, I think she's thrilled to have someone take care of her. She looks deeply into my eyes while resting her head on my knees and nuzzles my hands asking to be petted. She pokes her head and body under my arm to be encircled in a warm hug. She makes my heart melt and ache at the same time.

She is so excited and happy when she sees me with her bowl at meal times she literally prances and hops around me. Such is her joy and appreciation at being fed. I am so touched by this pooch she brings tears to my eyes. I can't imagine her life outside as a stray. She is as innocent and defenseless as a bunny.

Now I just have to work on her not being so obsessed with me so she can concentrate on her pupparoos! Koala loves being petted and loved while she is nursing her pups. She is easily distracted, little more than a child herself and she is thrilled to have a 'mother' take care of her after having had to fend for herself and her pups for god knows how long. She sticks to me like glue. She has become so attached to me that she sometimes neglects her pups, preferring to follow me around than to tend to their needs, so what I've been doing is sitting down quietly with her while she lies down and handing her the pups for feeding and cleaning. Once the pups are nursing, I pet her head and side and praise her so she will not get up before the pups have had their fill. Last night I fell asleep on the floor with her and the pups. When I woke up, I snuck out of the room and shut the door super quietly so as not to wake her. I'm exhausted but it is nice to be loved so quickly and unconditionally by this sweet girl I met just 3 nights ago. I would love to keep her forever but I'm moving and can't afford to anyway :(

What can we rescuers and fosterers do? We've fallen in love a hundred times and will fall in love again and again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

My visit to Langkawi LASSie & Mr CrankyPants update

I went to the beautiful island of Langkawi for 5 days and 4 nights to volunteer at the Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation (LASSie). This wonderful place is run by someone that some of you may remember, the very special N, that sponsored all of Molly and Conan's food and medical care. I haven't mentioned Molly for a long time. You all know she is a very painful subject for me. I don't talk about her but there are reminders of her everywhere, even at the top of this blog! I will never change that picture. She is the background image on my computer and on my phone. Her collar and tag hangs in my room along with Tony Montana's. Every time I see a dog and a cat that are in love, my heart aches. I ran away from the world of animal rescue for a while. After Molly passed away, I avoided people that knew her. I didn't want anyone to ask me about her. I wanted to pretend that she never existed. I thought I could erase that whole period of my life. Because of this, I didn't see N for a very long time.

A few weeks ago I ran into her at my neighbor MK's husband's awesome cafe The Bee. MK is Mr C's other foster mummy btw.. sometimes I call her 8th Floor in this blog. I can't keep track of all the little nicknames I give people here. Anyway, Malaysian Dogs Deserve Better (MDDB) was having an adoption drive at The Bee that day. I was very happy to see N and it was great talking to her again. She knew better than anyone else what I went through with Molly, the struggle and my pain and she had always been a great help to us. We talked about my darling Molly and I was quite surprised to find that all the sadness I had supressed was still there. I had to keep my voice from shaking as we spoke and fight hard to hold back the tears that threatened to spill out. Who knew that the wound was still so raw and fresh? I thought I was over that. We continued to communicate after that accidental meeting and I asked N about LASSie. She invited me to come over and check it out for a few days. I hopped on the first flight the next morning and headed to Langkawi.

I had a great time there and met many wonderful like-minded people. We spent our days walking dogs, cleaning cages, and hanging out with the cats in the cattery. LASSie is part of N's Bon Ton and Temple Tree resorts. These are the most animal-friendly resorts in Malaysia. The majority of the animals are in the shelter and sanctuary but staff favorites are all over the resort. In the restaurants, offices, inviting themselves into the rooms, all glowing with health and well-being. There's something therapeutic and calming about seeing all this animal contentment everywhere. I'll be back very soon. Check them out at and like them on facebook.
Beautiful marsh teeming with life surrounds Bon Ton, Temple Tree, and Langkawi LASSie.
Beautiful sunsets.
One-eyed Leo
Milo and Mocha in the Bon Ton restaurant.
Mocha. She thinks a lot.
Milo only likes me because I gave her a taste of cheesecake.
I love Mocha! She looks so serious.
Short like my Spike.
Couch cat is on this couch all day every day.
Gizmo's a little turd with Napoleon complex but he's one of my favorites.
He's got a bum leg that doesn't bend but he loves his walkies.
A temple tree room kitty
Another Temple Tree kitty
JJ the Temple Tree club house pooch.
One-eyed Ginge from the cattery.
A Bon Ton restaurant kitty.
Couch cat again. She's got the most comfy spot.
Another Temple Tree kitty.

As for Mr CrankyPants, he decided while I was away that he was tired of indoor life. On the day I was supposed to return, MK, who was feeding my monsters while I was was away, texted me and informed me that he was nowhere to be found in my apartment! The little shit had jumped off the balcony into the garden and gone back to the parking lot. He's back to hanging out at our cars and he's happy as a clam. I guess you can try to take the carpark out of the cat, but you can't take the cat out of the carpark. I still want him rehomed though. I don't feel its really safe for him out there.