Finding My Forever Home : Lulu’s Story

Sometimes, life leads you to the right decisions. I was missing having a dog in my house after my little JRT passed away at 16 years old. Life was easier but somehow it seemed something was missing in our small family of three. My friend A had recently adopted a beautiful cross breed pup, and then a few months later, an older dog with a great personality. I admired her magnanimity and  saw that her family really enjoyed having the dogs so much. At the same time, I was also looking around on the internet and had some dogs on short list. Lulu caught my eye because she was really pretty. What's more, the description of her personality as "a sweet and gentle disposition that endears her to anyone who meets her", "reserved and very well behaved", "undemanding" sounded perfect for me. Coincidentally, I then saw Lulu's picture on friend A's FB wall when she liked a post about Lulu by Hope Dog Rescue. I took that as a sign and made an enquiry. 

A few days later, volunteer, Lisa called to ask some questions and this was quickly followed by a house visit. Poor Lulu was so scared because there were 4 people from Hope, 3 from my family and 3 from next door (my sister's family) - we were all so excited to meet her. She spent the few hours with her tail between her legs, walking around nervously. 

The following week she came to stay. She was so easy to walk and followed me closely. She was not active, sleeping most of the day and her sad, soulful eyes held little spark. One morning, I woke up and she was not in the house and the patio door, open. Walking out, I smelt and saw poo everywhere. She had diarrhea and had somehow clawed open the aluminum patio door, jumped over the short gate and was stuck outside. There was poo on the patio and the little garden - but not a smudge of poo in the house or on her paws! She was really desperate not to dirty the inside of the house. What a considerate and clever dog.

For many weeks she basically kept to herself and minded her own business, only showing any interest when I came home with a shy wagging of tail (which was still mostly down).  The children were a little disappointed that they couldn't play with this dog - but this dog didn't know how to play. She was however very easy going with them, and put up with many hugs and squeezes. She was not much interested in food, and also wary of treats, so it was hard to coax her into doing anything. I reminded myself that she had lived on the streets her whole life.

After School Cuddles
Today after a year, she is quite different. She wags her tail excitedly to see us home, even my husband - whom she ignored for months! She greets the kids when the school bus drops them off, and she is always the first one they will want to kiss and hug. She loves sneaking to my sister's house next door for morsels of salmon skin, or the fat, chewy bits of roast beef. She has two families to love her, that's for sure. Some days, if she's in the mood, she'll even play catch with you! Still, she is very much her own dog, indulging you only if she feels like it. Many a time, we still see a lot of sadness in her eyes.

After Bath Snack
Are we glad we got her? Definitely. We've always had a dog in our family and it just seemed a natural thing to complete the family. My child who sometimes laments being an only child is happy to have a dog for a sister (I suspect, for an 8 year old boy, this is way cooler than having a human baby sister!). We may not always know what to do, or what is normal behavior for a former street dog adjusting to a home, so many thanks to god-ma Lisa for being available to support us on that.

Lulu watching world cup Argentina vs Belgium with the boys

Written by : Hong May Kong (Lulu’s forever Mommy)

Note from HOPE : Adopting an adult or senior street dog is rather different from adopting a puppy. A puppy may never know how tough it is living on the streets. An adult street dog would have survived accidents, dog fights, abuse, starvation and endured sun and rain just to make it through the day. Thus, when you adopt them, a lot of patience is required. Many of them come "fresh from the streets". They have never been in a car, a lift, or a home. They might be terrified of a leash / collar because they may have been caught previously or dislike the feeling of being choked. They may be scared of certain family members or sounds and try to bolt. Some don't even know how to drink from a water bowl because they have drank from puddles on the roads all their lives.

Adopting an adult or senior street dog is extremely rewarding. It might be challenging as well, and lots of patience and understanding is needed, but the rewards from seeing them learn to adapt and eventually realize that they finally have love, home, regular meals and a forever roof, is something money can't buy and that is priceless.


Irresponsible Owner

Imagine this: someone you know has been diagnosed with a tumor. Imagine that the patient was then denied medical treatment, his condition ignored and allowed to fester for almost half a year. As horrifying as it may sound, this is what happened to a patient named Kristy. However, Kristy isn't a person. Kristy is a dog, but the agony of what she has gone through remains very real indeed.

Kristy had a mammary tumor. Her owner, Shantee, contacted us in a panic and asked us for help. She asked for a loan and promised to pay us back in installments. Kristy arrived at the vet listless, running a temperature caused by the infection of a lump on her chest that had just ruptured. The owner claimed that the rupture happened 'a couple of days ago', but the vet's observation was prolonged mistreatment.

The huge tumour on the poor small dog

Imagine the foul, rotting smell from this ruptured tumour 

Our volunteers who met Shantee and Kristy at the vet reported a vile stench that lingered in the clinic even after Kristy had left: the result of a horrific infection. Due to the instability of Kristy's condition, the vet had her warded and placed on a drip, advising two days of treatment and cleansing of her infection. They operated on Kristy on the third day, and the lump was finally removed and sent for cancer tests in UK laboratories.

Shantee had used her sari as a bandage for her dog!
There was milk from one of the dog's nipples
Kristy, who is estimated to be about about 8 years old, was also sterilised during the same surgery. According to the vet, dogs who are not sterilised are prone to developing cancer cells that form tumors. While operations are possible, they are costly and painful. Also, tumors often reoccur in spite of repeated removal, eventually spreading to vital organs such as the lungs, resulting in death.

Chemotherapy is available for dogs, but its treatment is completely different from that of humans. Each session can be highly uncomfortable and stressful for dogs and treatments are scheduled on a weekly basis, with each session costing approximately S$200. Unfortunately, chemotherapy as a treatment has a low success rate.

It is unfortunate that not many dog owners are educated about the importance of sterilisation and that spaying at an early age considerably reduces the risk of mammary tumors in female dogs. Ideally, dogs should be sterilised between the age of 6 months to a year old.

Shantee and her husband carrying Kristy outside the vet


In the case of Kristy, the damage has been done. We can only educate the owner, but the rest is up to her. Kristy was discharged after 10 days at the vet and her whopping bill of $1700 was left unpaid by Shantee who claimed they did not have sufficient funds to pay. They offered to repay us $50 per month but to date we have not received any payment and don't think we ever will, but how could we have let Kristy suffer because of her irresponsible owner?

Written by Michelle Chan


Black Puppies (Arslan and Mishka)

My name is Tonya and I have recently started volunteering for HOPE Dog Rescue. As of my first volunteering experience with Sida I have instantaneously fallen in love with the dogs and the pups HOPE rescued from the industrial estates. I felt honoured to be able to help those lovely and gentle creatures, who each have their own unique personalities and all personify the term “man’s best friend”.

Earlier this week I had my first opportunity to participate in the rescue of two stray puppies which were badly injured and had wounds infested with maggots. The puppies were brought to us by a very kind gentleman who is working in the industrial estate. We understand that he and his colleagues were looking after the puppies and their mum at their work site, providing them with food and as much care as they can possibly offer. Unfortunately they were not able to help the puppies with the injuries and some of the puppies didn’t survive. However they were quick to contact HOPE Dog Rescue to try and save the remaining pups.  So that’s how I got to meet two adorable balls of fur.

The puppies are very young, having barely opened their eyes. Both are boys - little brothers from the same litter. We estimated them being less than one month old. Despite being so little, they had very bad, deep wounds on their backs and bellies. We were advised that the injuries had to be at least two weeks old. Two adorable babies were virtually eaten alive by the maggots. It was very hard to watch the puppies suffer so much.

Fortunately they got taken into the care of the vet in good time, who have cleaned the wounds as much as possible, using antibiotics and putting them on a drip. The chances of the puppies’ survival are higher now. Even to me, a non-professional and an absolute amateur with animals, the puppies looked much better after two days at the vet. They looked very lively and energetic, eager to play with people and being quite noisy. They seem to eat really well now, which increases their chances of survival. However it is essential for them to stay in a safe and clean environment, at least at the beginning, to exclude any chances of infection penetrating the wounds. The puppies are very small and might not be able to fight it well.

What I found very surprising is that even at this early stage you could see their personalities and characters coming through. They obviously had a bond between the two of them. Despite being brothers they have different characters, one is a vocal and demanding little chap and another one calmer and more affectionate little boy.  We named them Arslan and Mishka. These names were suggested by myself and are courtesy of my background. I’m an ethnic Russian, who grew up in Central Asia. Hence the names. Arslan means Tiger in Turkic culture, whereas Mishka is an affectionate Russian name for a bear. I do hope that the names will define their future in a way, I hope both of them will grow to be strong, yet gentle dogs and will become somebody’s best friend and protector.

This brings me to the main purpose of my story. I would love for these two adorable little creatures to find a loving and caring home. They are at this perfect age now, where they can adapt well within a family and become amazing pets. I’m sure that they will bring a lot of joy and happiness into somebody’s life and they really need your help NOW. I want you to look beyond the fact that the puppies are black. Being a stranger to Singaporean culture, I was shocked to find out that there is a belief that a black animal brings bad luck. I understand that many cultures have similar superstitions, for example Russians believe that it’s bad luck if a black cat crosses your way. I am Russian and I had a black cat in my house for a number of years. Once my cat was in my house, nothing bad happened. In fact my lovely girl was a protector and a charm for good luck to my family in a way. She was an amazing pet and I was honoured to have her in my home. So in her memory and in the attempt to prove those superstitions to be wrong, I’m asking for your help. If not Singaporeans, then fellow expats, would you please save the lives of two amazing puppies, which are proud to be black!!! In return I’m sure they will become your lucky charms and bring you loads of joyful moments!!!

There is no good deed that is too small! We will also appreciate any help with their veterinary bills or adopting them. Please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg 

Written by Tonya Gibbs

Note from HOPE : These puppies will be at the vet for another week or so, before returning to the work site when their wounds have completely healed. Sadly, HOPE can no longer take in any more dogs as we have 16 dogs in our charge, some of which have been in commercial boarding for more than a year. Bearing in mind we also have quite a number of handicapped dogs, a deaf and blind dog, dogs with health issues and these dogs will probably never be adopted. We don’t have the capacity or the financial means to keep these puppies. We feel sad and apologize for this decision, but our hands are tied. Without rehoming some of our dogs, we can no longer take in dogs.

It is still too early to tell if Arslan and Mishka will be HDB approved.


Adopt Elmo

Are you wondering what Elmo has been up to? 

According to Dy Ly of ARC, Elmo has come a long way. His weight has doubled since his initial rescue and he now weighs a healthy 14kg. He can now be fed just one proper meal a day as compared to when we first rescued him and was feeding him many small meals throughout the day as he was a walking skeleton.

Elmo when he was first rescued. Look how skinny he was! The third picture is Elmo as he is today.

He gets on very comfortably, despite being almost deaf and blind. Elmo's hearing is perhaps only 15%, based on the present foster's guess. He can react to high pitched sounds like whistling and screaming. But early in the morning, when it’s very quiet and the foster is preparing his breakfast, he will get up and wait for his breakfast as if he could hear the food being prepared.

Elmo's sight seems to have improved slightly, although he will never have good vision. We think he can see blurred images when things are close to him. When someone approaches Elmo, he will turn to face in their direction.

Well, realistically, he's probably just reacting to scents and/or vibrations. But whatever method it is that Elmo uses to guide himself, he seems to have honed it well. He seems to thrive best when he is in a quiet and calm environment. When he is outdoors, his senses don't work as well. All the other outdoor distractions probably make it difficult for Elmo to focus on particular scents or vibrations.

Elmo has nice golden fur growing out, making him look like a kiwi fruit
To cope with his disabilities, Elmo has a good memory. He remembers where obstacles are and avoids them. Sometimes, he scratches himself, more as a bad habit rather than because of an itch. The e-collar that he wears not only prevents him from scratching, but also serves as a shield to protect his face and head from banging into things. He recognizes the scent of his foster home, and after walks in the neighborhood, he will know where to turn into his foster home.

Even his rat's tail now looks so cute with golden fur

He is a creature of habit, so having a fixed routine is important. Feeding at the same time and place, walking the same routes etc., will all make it easier for Elmo to familiarize himself with his new life and adapt better.

At first, Elmo didn't know how to open his mouth to pant like a normal dog. Thus, his body would heat up when he went on walks or outings, and the fosters and volunteers would have to ice him down after. Now, after ___ months, Elmo at least knows to open his mouth, although he still doesn't really pant much, even after long walks or runs. The foster helps him to cool down by feeding him ice cubes and wiping his body and face with a wet towel.

Elmo loves his fruits. His foster will usually feed him fruits, followed by ice cubes. Clever Elmo knows to wait and expect ice cubes after having fruits. One time, the foster combined the fruits and ice cubes in his food dish together, and he seemed to still expect to be fed more ice cubes after polishing off the mixture. What a cute little fella!

Caring for Elmo
Elmo is extremely easy to care for. He is easily contented and easy to please. He is a good boy and hardly barks. He spends the day sleeping while you are at work. After a good meal and a belly rub, he likes to play tug of war with his chew toy before heading off to bed. Yes! He has now learnt how to play!

Elmo, 3rd from left, at the Star Vista mall for the Cesar Millan event in April 2014

Amanda and Josephine with Elmo
Despite having many disabilities, Elmo is a friendly and sociable dog, He wags his tail whenever any person or dog approaches him. He doesn't seem very interested in meeting other dogs and often seems like he is in a world of his own, perhaps due to his loss of sight and hearing.

Elmo tends to gobble his food in large mouthfuls, possibly because he had been grossly starved or the fact that he can't see his food. So watch out for those fingers of yours when you feed him by hand!

During his walks, Elmo likes to pick things up to eat, so you need to be careful and alert. He seems to like eating flowers and leaves, which leads us to speculate that he had been abandoned in a dense forest and was eating plants to survive before he was found by rescuers.

Elmo is already outdoor potty-trained and has hardly had any toilet accidents in his foster home. Amazing, isn't he?

Adopt Elmo! A foster is only temporary. Elmo needs a permanent home, a family of his own. Would you adopt Elmo? He is HDB-Approved under Project ADORE.

To adopt Elmo, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg 


Sunny - A Little Ray Of Sunshine

Some weeks back, in the late afternoon, we received a call from a lady saying that there was a lonely, sick looking, dirty and matted Shihtzu walking the streets aimlessly around the industrial sites. She also mentioned he was coughing and panting badly. She then had to go for a meeting and managed to put him in a small corner, intending to wait for someone to help him later on. Unfortunately by the time the lady was able to find any help the dog was nowhere to be found.

Sunny when he was on the streets 

HOPE then shared a picture of this Shihtzu on our Facebook and a few days later, to our relief, someone by the name of Kinnam wrote to us saying he had found the dog wandering the streets and took it back to his factory. Without a moment to spare we asked this kind man to bring the dog to the vet and handover to HOPE as we felt the dog urgently needed medical attention.

Workers handing over the dog to volunteers, Wendy and Lisa
Volunteer, Wendy, carrying Sunny
Shortly after that, someone else had also written to us informing us that this dog had been seen in that vicinity for the past one year and they were very certain it was the same dog because of his signature cough. His cough sounds like a goose honk, which the workers said, sounded like an old man coughing.

Volunteers Wendy and Lisa were at the vet to meet this Shihtzu, who was sent there by Kinnam’s workers. Wendy decided to name him Sunny as that was what she hoped his new life would be. The workers had kindly given him a bath. Although he still looked scruffy with his matted and overgrown fur, he smelled nice. Its interesting how whenever we find dogs from industrial sites, they arrive in extremely complicated self-made rope harnesses that locals like us can never put back after removing!

Dry eyes with scarring
Rotten teeth
Badly infected ears
Decayed tooth almost falling out

X-ray shows an enlarged heart

Sunny was very exhausted at the vet. His legs were trembling from probably days of walking, he had a nasty cough and beneath his matted fur, we could feel his spine, he was skin and bones. His eyes were dry and dirty, making his vision very limited. We lifted his ears and found them wet, mushy, smelly and terribly infected. We asked the vet to carry out a thorough health check, including full blood works and an xray to find out the cause of his cough.

After some  waiting, the vet identified poor little Sunny’s condition. He had an entire host of health issues. Was that the reason he was abandoned? It’s so much easier to discard an old, sick dog and go out and buy a new one.
Sunny was found to have :
  • A curved spine (could have been born that way)
  • Scarring on both eyes and dry eyes, thus limited vision
  • Enlarged heart
  • Slow heart rate
  • Rotten teeth, some of which are almost falling out
  • Weak hind legs and arthritis
  • Badly infected ears
  • Underweight and malnourished
  • The sweetest temperament you have ever known!
The vet then recommended that Sunny go for a heart ultrasound scan but for the moment, he was warded for observation.

During his stay at the vet, whenever the vet technicians tried cleaning his badly infected ears, poor Sunny would get very stressed from the cleaning and his tongue would turn blue. They would then have to stop everything and let him rest.

After a few days, we discharged Sunny and took him to another clinic to have a heart ultrasound scan. This time we found out more –  poor Sunny had a soft / collapsed trachea, common in smaller breed dogs. It could be a condition that he was born with. Sunny was again warded at this second clinic for a few days while we scrambled to find a foster. It wasn’t easy finding someone who would be home most of the time to watch and monitor Sunny.

Imagine abandoned in such poor health, a tiny dog having to fend for himself out in the industrial estates. The vet estimates Sunny to be about 6 to 7 years old only but because of his health issues and the rough life he has gone through, he looks way older than his actual age.

Sunny at foster home
Getting groomed at his foster home

Sunny is presently safe in a foster home and it seems he gets on with the cats as well. Perhaps he had met lots of stray cats when he lived on the streets. The foster has noticed that Sunny tends to regurgitate his water whenever he drinks. This is possibly due to his soft trachea and we will have this checked when Sunny goes for his next vet review in week's time. 

Sunny is a real sweetheart with such a nice, mellow temperament and anyone would be lucky to have him. If you can adopt Sunny, please let us know. Ideally he would need a home with people around, and not to be left alone for more that 3 or 4 hours at a time in case he has difficulty breathing.

Nicely groomed and all set to start a brand new SUNNY life

To be Sunny’s light at the end of a tunnel and love him forever, please email hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg


Bentley, The Gentle Giant

A kind aunty who regularly feeds strays contacted HOPE informing us about a dog in desperate need of our help. She advised us that the dog was in a bad way with a gaping wound behind his right ear. She said she could see the inside of his ear and it smelt very bad. We immediately knew it was maggot infested. Poor dog.

Fiona was sent a picture of the poor dog with the deep wound. The minute she saw the photo, she mobilized us to go and rescue the dog and take it to the vet. I lived the closest so without a moment to spare, I grabbed a leash and rushed down to the site. Unfortunately with much despair, the dog could not be seen anywhere. After an hour of searching the rain dispersed upon us and we had to call it a night and try again the following day.

The photo we received
The following night it was pouring so heavily that all the dogs had found shelter. Whilst waiting for a few hours for the rain to pass, the feeder aunty informed me that the factory in which this dog grew up in had been forced to be locked up by the landlord as the tenant owed months of rent that he couldn’t pay. Fortunately, these street smart dogs and cats managed to find a way to escape out of the gate to look for food. Also thank God for feeders like this aunty who keeps a constant lookout for these precious babies and has fed them to the best of her abilities.

We managed to find a factory worker who was on his way back and we pleaded with him to help us by catching him if he sees him. We left the site with a heavy heart, wondering if the injured dog will ever appear again. Later that evening at 11pm, the feeder aunty suddenly called and said that the worker had found the injured dog so we quickly rushed down again. We finally managed to get the dog into the carrier after much struggling – he is a big dog trying to fit into a small borrowed carrier.

In pain and fear yet still having to worry about looking for food and survival
As he was loaded into the car, the stench of rotting flesh permeated the inside. Windows were wound down as we rushed to the vet. Having only been in contact with a dog that has been infested with maggots three times, the smell is unforgettable. The sight of seeing these dogs in distress and so pitiful is even worse. Upon arrival at the vet, Fiona was already there with registration done with the staff on emergency standby.

She had decided to name him Bentley.

At the vet, Fiona opened the carrier, leashed Bentley and encouraged him to come out. He emerged slowly with his head hanging low, in pain partnered with fear and resignation. He must have been extremely worried in this new environment, especially not knowing where he was and it probably being the first time he has visited the vets. Usually when we rescue strays we have to be on alert as we can never predict how they will react being in a strange environment and leashed up. Some strays don’t like the leash around their necks and will struggle or panic.

Bentley at the vet. His neck is swollen from an abscess 
Bentley on the other hand was extremely docile and allowed himself to be leashed and led out slowly from the carrier. The smell of maggots filled the consult room. He was a big dog, bigger than a Labrador but oh my, what a gentle giant he was – sweet, calm, docile, submissive and what a big baby.

As Fiona held Bentley by the leash, he gave a shake and all of the maggots and pus came splashing all over Fiona! That’s how bad it was. It was a sorry sight to see, but we knew Bentley was now in safe hands.

As we were waiting for the vet to prepare the drips and medicines, we noticed Bentley was drowsy and that meant that the infection and septicemia was setting in. Dogs can die from septicemia.

When the vet and vet technician got started with shaving and the flushing of the wound, we realized with horror that Bentley actually had many more bite wounds around his neck, ears and even on his legs which were initially covered by his fur. After shaving we saw almost 8 puncture wounds with deep teeth marks. It was probably a very bad fight and the poor boy was suffering in pain and going through this all alone. We knew why he was attacked – he is really sweet and submissive, easy prey for the stronger, alpha dogs to pick on.

Numerous puncture wounds on various parts of his body

A more visible wound after shaving off his fur

After cleaning of his wound and removal of the maggots

Bentley is now in safe hands with HOPE. But his future looks bleak as his ‘family’ is moving to another location. Hopefully they will bring these furry residents with them, otherwise they will become homeless soon.

Bentley is a very sweet, calm and goofy dog, and for anyone who would be lucky enough to adopt him we guarantee you won’t regret it, he is truly such a gentle giant. Fiona says Bentley reminds her of Harry, in size and temperament.

Email us at hopedogrescue@singnet.com.sg and give Bentley the happy future that he deserves.