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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dubai 2007

Hey everyone,

Sorry for the long silence. Have been on a short holiday to Dubai with my mother and my sister. Had to leave my darling Cleo behind though... ;o(

Anyway Dubai is a nice place, very good for shopping if you have the money. Unfortunately I got ill on the 2nd day due to the heat and dust there. And am still trying to recover from a massive sinus infection from my trip.

If anyone is interested to know what Dubai is like, I have posted some pictures on my Photo Album. We stayed one night at The Burj Al Arab, and it was an out of this world experience. Will be posting pictures of the Burj soon... thank goodness we didn't have to pay for the suite as it was complimentary! No way we could afford something like that!

Right need to get to bed now... have a big meeting in the morning and Cleo is sleepy already too...


Sunday, March 11, 2007


Just discovered that my article on Lucky was published in the Malay Mail in the week that I was in Dubai. The same article is also archived in the Department of Veterinary Services of Perak's website. Some of my other articles are also archived in this site.
Today's post is dedicated to Lucky, my 6 month old mongrel, as he literally saved my life and my house!

I fed both Lucky and Cleo at the usual time this morning, and then left Lucky in his room while I went to eat my breakfast in my living room. Lucky is always kept in his room for about 30 minutes to an hour after his meals to prevent him from prancing about with Cleo and throwing up everything that he has eaten. Cleo was playing outside in the garden by herself.

My breakfast usually consists of cereal or a yoghurt drink. But today, my mother who was at my house, decided to cook me some breakfast. After she had deposited my breakfast plate with me, she left for an appointment. I ate my food, but was incredibly annoyed with Lucky who was barking his head off. I kept telling him to be quiet from where I was sitting - in the living room his room is at the back in the kitchen). But he refused to keep quiet. He just kept barking and barking (and really loudly too). After 20 minutes I just could not take it anymore, and got up to give him a bit of scolding. As soon as I entered the kitchen I realised that my mother had accidentally left the fire on, and the frying pan was smouldering! It was burning!

I quickly turned the fire off, and opened the windows to let the smoke out. Lucky stopped barking as soon as the smoke cleared. If it weren't for Lucky, my house would have caught fire and I could have lost my life.

There was no way that I would have known that there was something burning in the kitchen till it was too late, as my house is quite large and well ventilated. The smoke from the kitchen could not be smelt from the living room. Both Cleo (who was in the garden) and I had no idea that the pan was on smouldering from where we were!

Who would have thought that the little mogrel mutt that I rescued 4 months ago would be the one to alert me of danger? And he's only a puppy! Many have said that Lucky was really lucky to have found a rescuer like me who has given him a safe environment to live in, lots of love and affection. But today, I would like to tell everyone, that I am really lucky to have found Lucky, as I may not be here typing this if it weren't for him!

Thank you Lucky for being such a star!

On another note, this incident has once again further reinforced my argument that dogs should be kept indoors. Because Lucky was indoors, he could alert me that the frying pan was burning. If he was outdoors, he would not have realised this till it was too late!

So folks, bring your dogs indoors... it can make a difference, it can save your life!

Saturday, March 10, 2007



1. Dogs do not have problems expressing affection in public.
2. Dogs miss you when you're gone.
3. Dogs feel guilty when they've done something wrong.
4. Dogs admit when they're jealous.
5. Dogs are very direct about wanting to go out.
6. Dogs do not play games with you-except fetch (and they never laugh at how you throw.)
7. You can train a dog.
8. The worst social disease you can get from dogs is fleas.
9. Dogs understand what "no" means.
10. Dogs mean it when they kiss you.


1. It doesn't take 45 minutes to get a dog ready to go outside in the winter.
2. Dogs cannot lie.
3. Dogs never resist nap time.
4. You don't need to go get extra phone lines for a dog.
5. Dogs don't pester you about getting another kid.
6.Dogs don't care if the peas have been touched by the mashed potatoes.
7. Average cost of sending a dog to school: £50. Average cost of sending your kid: £100.000.
8. Dogs are housebroken by the time they are 12 weeks old.
9. Your dog is not embarrassed if you sing in public.
10. Dogs don't talk back when you scold them.

How to House Train Your Dog

I was at my pet store this evening, picking up a supply of special treats formy darling Cleo as I will be away for another week, again... sigh.

Anyway as it was raining cats and dogs (he he he), I had quite a long chat with the owner of the store. She loves dogs and has about 5 of her own. However she was surprised that Cleo has free reign of the house while I am out. I guess maybe it's uncommon for Malaysians to allow their dogs indoors in the first place, and even more so to leave their dog free in the house : alone and unsupervised.

Firstly, Cleo is completely realiable in the house on her own. She doesn't chew anything she's not supposed to, she goes to the bathroom on her own (so there are no worries of finding pee or poop anywhere else in the house), and she doesn't even eat any food that we might accidentally leave lying around the house. Of couse we also ensure that we don't leave things lying around.

Was she always this good? The answer is no... When Cleo was little, she was a right monster. We still refer to her as The Monster when we don't want her to know that we're talking about her.

She destroyed all our furniture: she just chewed everything within her reach. And I could never bring myself to punish her or scold her. Why? Because it really was my fault that she was so badly behaved.
The first reason was the fact that she sufferred from severe separation anxiety. She hated being left alone because she was still a baby and didn't understand why all of us disappeared for hours at a time. She hated it when we started to get ready to leave the house.

So if your dog suffers from separation anxiety, it is important that you understand this, and you MUST NOT punish your dog for being "bad"! They already feel really terrible when you are away, they don't need to be scolded or beaten or punished when you get home. This will only make matters worse - as they will associate your coming home with a punishment and therefore stress them out even further, which may result in even more damage to your belongings.
The second reason for her bad behaviour was due to lack of exercise and boredom at the time. Being a rambunctious labrador puppy, she needed ALOT of exercise. And unfortunately, at the time I was unable to do so because my work just did not permit me to take her for walks. (So another point to note - it's very important that you know the breed of dog that you are considering to have as your companion and the amount of exercise they require!)

Once we realised what the problem was - as she never chewed on anything or destroyed anything when we were home - we managed to resolve it. And she really is an angel at home these days! I can even leave my work on the coffee table and it would still be there when I get back... seriously!!!

So how did we solve this problem and turn Cleo into a model Canine Good Citizen?

Firstly we made sure that we exercised and tired her out thoroughly before we went out. So when she was younger, we would always ensure that we played "fetch" with her for a good 30 minutes each time before we left the house. This effectively meant that she would be too tired to damage anything and would sleep for fairly long periods while we were out.

Secondly, we started leaving her lots of yummy treats in Kongs plus a small new toy each time we left. This also helped because then she started associating yummy treats and toys with our going out, so she actually looked forward to the treats and of course with the Kong, it meant that she could spend hours trying to get the snacks out of them. So this gave her something to do and alleviated her boredom when we were out.

We also made her understand that the house was as much hers as it was ours. Cleo is allowed on the furniture, and she often sits with us on the sofa when we watch tele. She sleeps on the bed too. While not everyone would subscribe to having their dogs on the furniture, we found that with Cleo it meant that she would not destroy our furniture because if she did, she wouldn't have a place to sit on or lie on either...

After a fashion, she stopped being anxious when we left her alone. (We also used some herbal remedies in the initial stages to help keep her calm - Bach's Rescue Remedy and St John's Worts - she doesn't need them anymore). She still doesn't like it but she has come to realise that she gets snacks when we go out and that helps a great deal (as she normally does not get snacks).
And the fact that we go for a 5km walk/run every morning also means that she has an outlet for her amazing amount of energy; and something to look forward to everyday. These days we can even leave her alone for an entire day without leaving any snacks or treats. (Of couse we always leave her snacks if we know in advance that we'll be out for a long period - but only a minimal amount.)

Most importantly, when we get home, the first thing we do is spend a good 10-15 minutes playing with and petting her. Alot of people ignore their dogs when they get home because they are too tired and because they think that their dogs don't need the attention. That's where they have it wrong! Dogs want to feel like they matter and that they are part of the family. So when they are ignored, they will try to get your attention in other ways, e.g. chewing something they're not supposed to etc.

"Potty" training is also of incredible importance. You must let your dog know where it can go "potty" while you are away. I do not believe in allowing dogs to only go once or twice a day. I actually think that it really bad for their health. So ensure that you either have a dog flap for them to be able to go and do their business in your garden somewhere (if you have a nice garden - you need to train them to go only to a specific spot); or you can assign a toilet to them. Cleo has her own toilet - and she only goes in there. Bear in mind that dogs also do not like a dirty toilet, so ensure that you clean your dog's toilet on a regular basis!

Dogs like routine, so when trying to train your dog to be alone at home, you need to setup a routine for them and stick to it. They will soon learn to look forward to the times when you come home and reward them.

Cleo has her routine down pat, that I don't even need an alarm or clock anymore. She wakes me at 6.30am every morning so that I let her go to the toilet (as she sleeps in my room), and then she waits for me to get ready and take her for her walk. When we come back, she stands at the garden tap without me telling her to, so that I can wash her feet and face before she goes back into the house. After a half hour or so, she'll sit in the kitchen to tell me it's time for breakfast... I will then work at my computer through the day, and she'll be sleeping at my feet or on my bed. She will wake up at about 6pm and go downstairs to the kitchen to wait for her dinner.

Cleo is really a fantastic doggie now... ;o) and I am so proud to be able to say that shean extremely well behaved dog (better than most children I know) and that she has NEVER been caged or chained!

So can a dog be left indoors alone and unsupervised? I say YES! You just need to have the time and patience, and lots of love and affection to guide your furry companion! So don't give up on them... bring them indoors!

Monday, March 05, 2007


Unchain your dogs! Do not keep them in confined spaces... Chained or confined dogs can be dangerous, and this is the fault of their owners, not them!

The Founder of Dogs Deserve Better was attacked a few days ago by a dog she was fostering. This dog was formerly chained and turned aggressive, read what happened...

To prevent incidents like this, unchain your dogs. Socialise your dogs and ensure that they receive adequate care and attention. Dogs are pack animals and are not meant to be confined, chained or left alone for extended periods...


Dear all,

Am currently on my lunch break in Jakarta, and came across this article from Dogs Deserve Better. It's a pretty good article, and while the emphasis is on rehabilitation for chained dogs, I think the points in the article are applicable for rehabilitation of abused dogs too.

I know that I have been told that I am nuts for spending so much time with Lucky, but the feeling that you get when you see an abused dog (who used to be afraid of everything, and anything and everyone) starting to trust you, or look forward to seeing you and playing with you is simply amazing. I still have a long way to go with Lucky the Mongrel, but I really believe that all the time spent with him is beginning to pay off.

He has come out of his shell and is an alert little fella who is also pretty quick to learn. Lucky is very eager to please me, now that he realises that I will not hurt him and all that I have to offer him are long walks, cuddles and play time (with boundaries of course). Believe it or not, Lucky learnt "Sit" and "Down" on his first day of "training" within 15 minutes! And to think that to many, he's just a mutt, a mongrel puppy that I picked up from off the street...

I am now trying to teach him "Heel" which is a bit harder as he is still afraid of the cars and motorbikes that whizz past on our walks. But I am sure we'll get there.

So to those of you out there who have rescued dogs with behavioural issues, take comfort in knowing that your dog will respond to you eventually - but it takes time, patience and consistency.



Rehabilitating Chained or Confined Dogs

By Debby Dobson

It is heartwarming to see a dog who has been confined most of its life be allowed to finally explore the world with all its sights, sounds and smells. However all too often, the effects of extensive confinement render a dog fearful and often terrified of what they are not familiar with. Sometimes this fear can manifest itself in aggressive behavior in a dog who knows of no other way in which to cope with the overwhelming stimuli he or she is now receiving. Many of these dogs need a patient person to work with them over a period of time to help them adjust.

There are several main points I cannot stress enough when working with a dog who needs to be socialized. One is patience, another is consistency and a third is balance.

I believe that dogs have the same range and depth of emotions as humans and that those who have been neglected seem to display heightened or exaggerated feelings to various stimuli. For example, while a loud noise will certainly startle a “normal” dog (one who has been raised with the comings and goings of people), that same loud noise will often terrify a dog who is not used to hearing a cacophony of sounds. The overly frightened dog will display a variety of reactions in the form of body language such as cowering, growling, snapping, hiding, putting their ears back or their tail between their legs.

It is important that the person who is working with this type of dog understand how overwhelming the world seems. For a dog like this, the world is not a comfortable, safe place – it is terrifying. I would advise anyone trying to rehabilitate a chained or confined dog to first put themselves in the dog’s place emotionally and understand the level of fear with which this dog faces his or her new environment.

At first glance, it would seem that a newly freed dog would welcome this change, but that small area in which they were living became their security, especially when the confinement started at puppyhood and was extended through the period of time when a growing dog normally becomes familiar with the larger world.

Another important point when rehabilitating a dog who is afraid of the world is to be consistent. I have found that it helps, especially in the beginning, to have regularly scheduled events a dog can count on and look forward to. If you walk your dog in the afternoon, make sure that you give him or her a favorite treat when you return.

Daily “rituals” help calm a frightened dog, and add consistency to their day. Another suggestion is to use soothing touch on a regular basis. Before bed tummy rubs or hugs while walking are great experiences and will help your dog feel loved and comforted.

While you are offering regular doses of affection, you must also be consistent in your corrections. For example, although it may be tempting to ignore unacceptable behavior in a dog who tugs at your heart because of the horrific life they’ve led, this won’t help in the long run. It’s similar to training a puppy and teaching them good manners – the goal is to ultimately be able to bring your dog into any situation and know that he or she will be well behaved. Far better to say “NO!” every now and again than to have a dog who doesn't understand acceptable boundaries and behavior.

The next area is balance – how much and when? It is often difficult for a dog who has little or no worldly experience to go out! I would suggest that when you first start rehabilitating your dog, simply focus on getting him or her used to walking with you on leash. Don’t try to combine this with any other socializing initially. When your new friend becomes comfortable on a leash, you can then begin to take him or her to places where they can meet new people and other dogs.

In other words, take it step by step. Don’t expect to be able to put your dog on a leash and go to a noisy soccer game the first week after they have been released! Start by taking time to get to know your new friend, allowing them to get to know you one-on-one and letting them explore the world they have been separated from. Then over a period of several months, begin taking your dog out for short periods initially and allowing your dog to meet new people and other dogs.

A special note about introducing your dog to other dogs: because a dog who spent much of their life in confinement often became frustrated when they saw another dog, they may not view all new dogs as potential friends! If you can work with a friend who has a calm, relaxed dog this will help. Take both dogs to a “neutral” area such as a park. Keep both dogs on leash initially. Let them meet in an open, non confined area and watch carefully.

I usually start with a nose to nose contact and during that time I say, ”Good dog!” as they sniff each other to reinforce the positive outcome of this encounter. This simple phrase has helped diffuse many a tense situation for me over the years – I believe that if you convey the idea of being a good dog, so shall the dog respond! If however, there is any sign of aggression, pull the dogs apart. Depending on the situation, you may want to wait a few minutes and try again or wait a day or so.

I have mixed feelings about having dogs on leash when they meet. The obvious benefit is that if there is a problem, the dogs can be separated. However, to a confined dog meeting another dog for the first time, the leash may signal confinement and may then trigger aggression. I would suggest that if your previously confined dog has had a number of positive experiences meeting other dogs on leash over a period of months and has not exhibited aggressive behavior, you can probably safely let your dog off leash to play with another dog. Observe him or her closely, however, for any signs of fear or aggression.

The process of socializing and rehabilitating a dog who has been confined requires a tremendous commitment – it may take a year or more to see real progress*. It is a process that at times may seem futile, but don’t give up! It is often a fine line between giving enormous amounts of love and setting boundaries if your dog displays aggression or other unacceptable behavior. Because their emotional growth was “stunted”, these dogs vacillate between fear/aggression and a huge outpouring of affection which can sometimes border on neediness.

The goal is twofold: to help them overcome their fears and to simultaneously boost their confidence, which means putting them in initially stressful situations. It sometimes seems like a Catch 22 – the only way to help them is to subject them to stress. Yet, if done gradually and in small steps, this type of systematic desensitization can be very effective.

And I can think of no greater reward than seeing that huge doggy grin on your friend’s face as he or she strides confidently down the street with you — a journey that had once been filled with terror before you came along to help.

—Debby Dobson has been working with dogs for over 20 years and she is the owner of "Good Dog!" Animal Behavior. She can be reached in Arizona at 928/ 282-2550 for behavioral phone consultations at $25 per hour.

Disclaimer: The author of this article cannot be held responsible for the actions of any dog or dogs and wishes to make it clear that the advice of a professional trainer or animal behaviorist should be sought in cases where a dog or dogs may be exhibiting aggessive behavior.

*Tammy's note: Although this is sometimes true, please realize that most often a dog can be housetrained within one-two weeks. Here Debby is talking about other behaviors, fear and aggression issues that will still be in place. Most dogs we rescue live with the pack easily right away.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Hi everyone,

I have been trying to write in to the papers on a regular basis on animal welfare and animal rights etc. Angeline has just pointed out that my article on Hoppy has been published in the Malay Mail today, just after Angeline's article was published yesterday.

There was also a very good article by Mr Veera of The Star itself yesterday.

And Shoba of the Remember Sheena Campaign also has an article out in The Star today.

Hopefully we can help make a difference for all our furry friends - regardless of their breed, for

Love Knows No Pedigree...

Thursday, March 01, 2007


The recent spate of animal abuse cases that have been highlighted in the papers have horrified me, but are in my opinion, just a very small percentage of the actual number of abuse cases.

Interestingly, abuse cases does not seem to be confined to acts of cruelty towards mongrels or mutts. There have been a large number of cases where abuse have been inflicted on pedigreed or thorough bred animals - Sheena the German Shepherd was one good example, though not the only one.

I have also personally seen irresponsible breeders where their dogs and puppies are kept in appalling conditions, which in my eyes constitute abuse.

Two weeks ago, I highlighted the case of Wallace - a lovely Labrador that was abandoned and mistreated. (See also Malaysiakini.)

Then of course I have had my own personal experiences where I have rescued and adopted 2 pedigree dogs that were neglected in the past.

Lucille, our beloved Pomeranian
Lucille was a beautiful Pomeranian that we rescued just outside our house in 1992. She was, we believe dumped, because she suffered from severe epilepsy. With proper care and affection, Lucille lived happily with us until she died in 2005, although our vet told us that her chances were slim.

Summer the Silky Terrier

Then there was Summer, a Silky Terrier, that we rescued in 2005, again just outside our house, who was also neglected and probably abused (as she had some scars on her tummy). Summer had a very bad case of heartworms, severe ear infection, nails that had curled inwards into her paws, rotten teeth and fur that was matted so badly I had to almost cut everything off. We have treated her for her condition and she is doing great now. She is currently living a pampered life with my father.
These were the 2 pedigreed dogs that we took in ourselves. We have rescued several other pedigreed dogs from off the streets which we sent to the SPCA as we just could not accomodate more dogs in our very small house.

We have also rescued a number of mutts / mongrels / pariahs - whatever you would like to call these dogs over the years.
Johnny and Cleo

We adopted one in 1993 when he was about 2.5 years old. Johnny was quite the neighbourhood tyrant at the time - but interestingly he turned out to be one of the most loyal dogs that we ever had. He turned from a fairly aggressive dog into a docile, loving dog who was fiercely protective of all of us in the family including our rescued Lucille. Johnny lived with us till a ripe old age, and passed away late last year...
Lucky, the Mongrel Pup
Currently Lucky, the abused mongrel puppy that we picked up from off the street, is also turning out to be a real lovely boy. He's still afraid of strangers but he's coming out of his shell slowly but surely. And although he is a mongrel that has been abused so badly at a very tender age, and therefore has no reason to trust humans again, he has shown us that animals seem to have a great capacity to forgive. He greets us happily whenever we come home and can hardly wait to get out of his room to play with us everyday. He is running round my feet as I am typing this... and yes he lives indoors (as I believe all dogs should be kept indoors and protection is no excuse for keeping dogs outside) with us although he is a mongrel.

So what exactly am I trying to say here? I think that abuse cases happen more than we know it, and that animal abusers do not differentiate between mongrels or pedigrees. Therefore I would like to stress that stricter rules and harsher are required to curb if not eliminate animal abuse. This issue needs to be addressed by the government urgently as animal abuse cases also reflects badly on the country and its people.
At the same time, education and awareness on animal welfare issues are incredibly important. This is to ensure that people who are thinking of acquiring a pet, be it pedigree or not, know that great responsibility comes along with owning a pet. A great amount of time and effort is required in looking after the pet's health and well being (nutrition and exercise). People must not forget that having a pet also means additional expenses - more so with pedigrees. All too often people start to neglect or abuse their pets after the "cute" factor has worn off.

All potential or current dog owners should go through this checklist and try to keep to these suggestions to ensure a safe environment for dogs and dog owners alike. At the end of the day, regardless of whether a dog is a pedigree or a mongrel, how a dog behaves boils down to how its owner has treated it. Therefore if a dog behaves badly, the owner should be the one to be blamed and punished, NOT THE DOG!

Finally, Remember a Dog is for Life!!!


Hello everyone,

As I have mentioned before, everyone can help make a difference for our furry friends either by actively participating in rescue & adoption work or just writing from your desk.

Angeline Chin in an animal activist and today one of her letters has been highlighted in the Malay Mail.

I have also extracted her letter and posted it here for all of you...



Dear Editor,
NOT too long ago, the media highlighted the story of Joy, the dog that was saved from a group of construction workers who abused it severely because they viewed the animal as haram. Because of the abuse, Joy lost her jaw, preventing her from eating or drinking.Joy must have been suffering in silence, begging for someone to save her.
No religion allows abuse of other living beings, as they too are God’s creatures.Why is it so difficult for someone to accept that animals have feelings too? The fact is, Joy’s was not the only case that had been reported.
There are many abuse cases not highlighted in the media.What are the authorities doing about this? Sweep it under the carpet? What is the rationale of having the Animal Ordinance Act if not to protect animals? People who promote animal rights are often laughed at, ignored and misunderstood.Our objective is to inculcate compassion in society.There are people who walk away when we seek their support.Is this the ’caring society’ that we so proudly talk of? How can we call ourselves a caring society when we ignore issues like this? To inculcate compassion, we must educate people.
The question is, do we care about the rights of animals? As a representative of animal lovers, I beg the Government to revise the existing provisions in the Animal Ordinance Act 1953 (RM200 fine and/or six months jail) to at least RM2,000 fine and/or eight months jail plus a compulsory community service for three months.
Our laws are too lenient compared to developed countries.Only by enforcing the law will people think twice before hurting a defenseless animal.Numerous suggestions have been conveyed to the Government through the media, but the qestion is: Is the Government doing something about it? Why do we encourage this tidak apa attitude ?
I beg the Government help protect our animals, be it domestic pets or wild animals.Please revise the penalties in the Animal Ordinance Act 1953 and educate the public to be caring towards animals.Angeline S.Chin Kuala Lumpur