March 23, 2008

A big day for Shin, the husky

March 21, 08. This post is meant to be rather detailed to share events of Shin's rescue, his past and his future.

For both of us, for Shin too -- it was a big day of changing a dog's life and torrential rain.

I felt some form of 'closure' is needed for Shin's episode with the family that kept him for five years since he was brought home as a pup, so when we visited the flat -- Shin tied in the kitchen near the window -- we advised his owner against having any dog in future. The 10-year commitment, responsibility, financial capabilities -- having a dog, I told the uncle, is also having foresight of one's capabilities to take care of the living being for the next 10 over years. I wished I could have spoken with his son, who brought him home on impulse, five years ago, but only uncle was home.

Essentially, this is a family very ignorant of dogcare and that lacks the resources to take care of their pet. More importantly, they lack the interest. I hope my 'education' did drum some message into him against having any pet in future.

For the bulk of five years, Shin was fed two slices of bread every morning and a bowl of rice with egg in the evening -- which account for his mere 15 kg, when we weighed him at the vet's. Shin suffered from overgrown (hooked) nails, which the vet clipped; yeasty ears; left eye infection (could be dry eye); fungal infection on skin; weakend hind joints; (quite) poor coat; a 'ring' that has eaten into his flesh around his neck. Yesterday, for the very first time in five years, he visited the vet and received his first vaccination. Thankfully, he is tested heartworm-negative. Mandatory checks for his transition to his foster home.

Skin inflammation in his inner thighs and fores. Note the pinkness of skin showing through his fur

For most of his five years, Shin had been tied to this taut leash that has gone all the way out of the window, hooked over a bamboo pole holder. This was the place he slept, ate and defecated.

This is the 'ring' of the metal chain that has eaten through his fur into the flesh around his neck. Notice how severe the ring is. We replaced the chain with this red collar.

You can see from Shin's side profile clumps of bad fur that could be picked out very easily. Thankfully, Shin doesn't have tick/flea problem.

Notice how overgrown his nails had become that they were hooked and impeded him from proper walking and standing. Dew claws at his hinds - Shin could be a product of backyard breeders who didn't bother to remove his unnecessary, otherwise impeding, dew claws

A close-up of his hooked nails

We made sure our (unneutered) boy peed and pooed before he entered the car. Though a little food-aggressive, Shin was a joy to have in the car -- not as fidgety as I thought.

One terrible thing about Shin's predicament is that he was shackled to a leash that was hooked over the bamboo pole holder under the window outside. Which made his leash, because of its resultant length, very taut. In this little radius, Shin slept, ate and defecated at the same spot. Worse, instead of a proper collar, the family had used a choke chain, we found to our horror. We removed the choke chain on the spot and replaced it with a plastic collar.

And our boy was jumpy and so full of desperation when he saw us, tugging against the choke chain and leash, for our attention. At times, he fell to his paws, either because his overgrown nails made him slip, or they prevented him for even standing straight. Yet, despite what to me are obvious human-inflicted injuries by acts of omission (i.e. neglect), Shin is a very friendly dog. My first time seeing him, and SB's second.

By all accounts, we could lodge a complaint of animal abuse on the family, but I have doubts about the complaint's effectiveness and wonder if acts of omission, invisible to the eyes of the public, are valid to the authorities. For such a long time, the family thwarted the otherwise normal growth of their pet dog. Deep inside, they knew very well they were not providing decent care to Shin. Why did they do it? Why keep a dog when you can't commit to it?

Their minimalist approach to dogcare has resulted in psychological scars the dog will carry, and a host of medical problems to be cleaned up by strangers. Strangers like SB and G.

But praise, praise, praise! Shin now resides with other rescued victims in a much cleaner, conducive environment, where at the very least, there is sufficient food and social interaction. I cannot express the world of a difference between the two home environments. When we took him to his foster, he was expectedly inquisitive of his new surroundings and the greater world outside his old home. Now, he gets to take in the sights, sounds and scents of the outdoors (as opposed to the gloom of being kept indoors previously), and other caregivers and canine pals where, maybe, for once, he can live, breathe and feel as a dog. A real dog. A good measure of love, care and the right to live as a dog.

Great thanks to G for offering her help in fostering (this is gonna be another long process of rehab and recovery), truly kind-hearted, not to mention experienced; L for facilitating this liaison; SB for recognizing Shin's cry for help and ultimate, ultimate commitment.

In light of the emails and comments on the blog, THANK YOU all who have expressed concern and offered your help to Shin. I sincerely apologise for my delayed response. Wish I could have more pals here but we lack the resources to carry out multiple tasks all at the same time. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

To contribute to Shin, kindly email us at

Shin, with his new pals - very inquisitive of new environment


March 20, 2008

Thank you for your

concern and (heartwarmingly) your offer to help Shin the husky. We have found a foster home for the boy, and we plan to move him out this Saturday.

Been busy conducting some groundwork - will get back to you after this episode.

March 17, 2008

I personally spoke with SB

about this pitiful husky. Foster needed for this male husky, or a boarding place where he can make a transition from shackled life to one that gives him more freedom.

Regrettably, this is another ignorant family that takes in a dog and has no qualms even releasing it in the wild. Moreover SB is given a three-week timeline to take the dog out, or else they'll surrender it to the SPCA. Can you believe this?


Sorry to abruptly text you earlier. I really feel sorry for the poor Husky, Shin, I visited earlier today. He is in a pretty bad shape. The poor dog is chained to the window with a short leash all day round. The uncle, Mr Low said he could not handle the dog as his legs and fingers are weak due to an accident while his son is busy, hence, the leashing. As a consequence, he pees and poops and sleep at the same palce. The skin around his neck is raw due to the constant leashing and I am not surprised with the skin problem around the leg and stomach in view of the poor environment. It could also be due to poor diet as he is given rice with egg every day. I told the uncle to loosen the chain but he did not know how as his son was the one who did it.

When the dog saw me, he whines and wag his tail, seems to be seeking for help. I asked the uncle why he didnt send the dog to the vet. Again, he said he could not handle the dog and his son is busy. I told him that I could arrange for someone to send the dog to the vet but the medical cost will need to be borne by them. He has agreed to pay for the medical cost but honestly, the environment will not help with his recovery. In addition, his nails are overgrown and he could not even stand up probably. I asked why his nails was not cut. Again, uncle said his son bought a nail clipper but has no time to do it for him. What a common but lousy excuse! Though he stays in the HDB, little care has been extended to him. Though the uncle seems to care but he has limited ability both physically and financially to take care of the dog.

I have written to ASD for help but am also wondering if you know of any fosterer who could help foster the dog and nurse him to good health before we rehome him. The poor dog needs a good environment to recover. In any case, if they could not find a new owner for the dog in due course (in another 2 weeks), they would probably abandon it in the wild or surrender it to SPCA. If that comes true, he will be another abandon dog who has little of no survival skills. It will be difficult to trace as the dog is not registered. Financially, they do not seem to have the ability to board the dog too. Please let me know if you could help or any advice on how I should manage this is much appreciated. I have no intention to report it to the authority as the owner will probably just abandon it sooner.

Am attaching the photos of the dog for your information.

Looking forward to your reply. Many thanks.



You can somewhat tell from this picture that the husky is able only to manoeuvre in the limited radius his leash allows. Deteriorating coat condition, as well.

March 6, 2008

Fatigue sets in,

even V, had been down with cold. Over the phone a few days ago, her voice quivered at the hurt of a temporal illness, and perhaps, from years-accumulated jadedness and exhaustion being on the road feeding her animals.

I wonder at 4am, when most of us are sound asleep in the crook of home comfort, who will be thinking about V driving in the quiet, and hurling bags of food to our strays?

Only the dogs that sense her coming will awake -- in darkness -- to the only person they call "benefactor" or "saviour"; only they will know, truly, the kindness V has for them.

Even if their existence on the streets, the farm, in the woods, are barely six months, or a few years, I guess the only human they can ever relate to is V.

March 1, 2008

Why a mongrel will always trump the pedigree chump

Taken from Daily Mail, January 28, 2008, page 17.

Key quotes of the news article:
"when it comes to intelligence, scientists say the crossbreed wins, paws down"

"mongrels have superior spatial awareness and are better at solving problems"

"...well-suited to working for the police, for the blind, and as sheepdogs"

"it might be wise for the police to consider training crossbreeds"

"[pedigree animals] are susceptible to medical problems that arise from inbreeding"

"crossing breeds definitely makes for a good mix in terms of adaptability and temperament"

"[Guide dogs for the Blind Association] will always produce purebred dogs because some of our clients still want them"