Mon 2nd July: A surprise holiday
I had no idea today was a public holiday until I was told by a friend. I’d assumed I’d be doing my normal Monday thing, and wondered why I’d been asked if I needed the van and driver because of course I did, that is until I found out that nobody else would be working. By that time Hing had already been told he would have to take another day off instead and it was too late to let him know he didn’t have to work, but as it turned out it was just as well.
For the past few days my big dog Sooty had been reluctant to go for the morning walk. I’d put it down to the heat and him being not just very large but also overweight, although it did seem to have come on quite fast. He’s only eight years old, but for a giant-sized dog that’s very different from being an eight year old chihuahua. Basically the bigger the dog the shorter the life expectancy. Anyway, I’d hauled Sooty to his feet to get him out at least as far as the woods, and it was when we were on the path heading up the hill that I noticed a large lump on Sooty’s hip. I hadn’t been aware of it before but he has a thick black coat and his extra weight would hide a multitude of sins. Once I had seen it I took him back home, knowing that I’d have to get him to a vet as soon as possible. Hing was needed after all.
I was worried about how I’d be able to get Sooty into the van, assuming he wouldn’t feel like jumping up and being fairly sure I’d struggle to lift him, so May suggested using the car (someone donated to us as a runaround). This turned out to be perfect as it has one of those back doors that open like a regular house door, and being low to the ground it was easy for Sooty to just step in. We’ll have to use it more often, and get an HKDR logo transfer for the sides to make it official.
I saw Dr Andy at Acorn and he immediately said it looked like a huge abscess, and by sticking a needle in and drawing out some bloody pus was quickly able to confirm that’s what it was. He asked me if Sooty fought with the other dogs and I said no, never. He’s an imposing dog being very big and black, and I don’t think any of the other dogs would be stupid enough to challenge him, and he’s in any case a laid-back kind of guy. Whatever the cause he’d need the have the abscess drained, so he was led out to the back for surgery while I was left with a couple of hours to kill.
I decided to go to the Ap Lei Chau Centre to see what was going on there, and arrived just as tiny poodle pup Tiny was being brought back by his adopter. As he was charging round the place, tail wagging and jumping up on all the volunteers and other dogs, wanting to be picked up or have a play, the adopter explained that he was too unfriendly and never wanted to have anything to do with any of the family. I’m not saying this wasn’t true, but it’s interesting how a dog can be a totally different personality in one place from their character in another. What I was looking at was a happy, bouncy and playful little dog, whereas the adopter was describing him as very quiet and unresponsive. Anyway, I was happy to have him back if it was obviously not a good match.
We’ve seen the same split personality in many dogs, with totally different behaviour at our Homing Centre to that shown in a home. Usually, and hopefully, the dog blossoms away from all the noise and mayhem, and all of our “painting fosters” reported that positive change. Still there are those like Tiny who seem to prefer being in a crowd, and poodle Sophie is another one who is the perfect dog with us, but has come back three times now. What is it that has made her so unhappy in what should be nice homes? I really don’t know, but although we get a lot of enquiries about her I’m reluctant to let her go again before we figure out what’s going on. She’s the sweetest and easiest of dogs at the Centre so there’s no real rush.
I also saw a new pom that had been brought to us, her feet all deformed and twisted. This is almost certainly as a result of living her whole life standing on the wire bottom of a cage, and it’s just one of the reasons I detest those things. I’d never seen dogs in cages before I started this work, and had no idea that many pets are kept like this from the moment they’re bought until the time they die or are thrown out like rubbish. They have to eat and sleep in a tiny space, which is also their toilet. It sickens me that anyone can think that this is OK, yet still today when you buy a pet shop puppy you’re expected to buy the cage to keep it in too. If you went to a zoo and saw any animal caged in the way so many dogs are forced to live, you’d be outraged, yet this is still normal here.
It’s also normal never to exercise a dog, or to think that one short stroll a day is all that’s needed. Marvin the mini pin came from a home just like that, one that had no time to walk their little dog because they were all too busy. Marvin’s lucky day was the one when his too-busy family gave him up because he only waited a few days before he left HKDR to start his new life.
Hing drive me back to Acorn to pick Sooty up, now with a shaved side and two drains sticking out. Andy said it was the biggest abscess he’d ever seen, the contents filling three kidney bowls. No wonder Sooty was uncomfortable, and although the problem has been fixed I’m now having to deal with the continuous drip from the drains. I’m so happy it was our own HKDR car and not a taxi, as I scrabbled for tissues to catch the flow, and again on the sampan. It’s vital that flies don’t get to the wounds because at the moment Sooty’s like a magnet for them, so I’ve got him in a T-shirt with tea towels stuffed inside (which I can change regularly), and was told to expect a few days of seepage. I talked yesterday about unexpected incidents and accidents adding to our monthly costs and this is a very good example, but one I could have done without.