Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Easter Week

Thursday, 20th March 2008: Public Holiday -- Maulud Nabi

Had another split workweek thanks to Maulud Nabi (i.e. Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday) falling on a Thursday. As agreed with the food hawkers in my neighbourhood, they would help me catch the stray cats around the food stalls for neutering under SPCA’s Mission Help. However, we didn’t manage to get any suitable candidates for neutering today, as the only one we managed to catch was a nursing tabby. I will come back for her in a month or two, and her kittens within the next 3 months, but for today, I won’t have a cat to bring in because they are all too skittish.

Arrived at the SPCA and was accosted by the Chair, Christine. I could tell she wanted something from me, because she started complimenting me excessively and being unnaturally nice to me. She needed my feedback on implementing the 4-point action plan for a Stray-Free Malaysia, and in the end I agreed to draft a memorandum to the state government, state assemblymen and local councils to support, fund, implement and enforce certain proposed measures including setting up low-cost, high volume, community spay-and-neuter clinics in areas with a high low-income human population. I’m not sure what the committee members and paid staff (education, public relations and corporate communications officers) are working on that I have to be persuaded to take on this assignment, but I agreed to do it anyway because it will ultimately promote the cause of animal welfare.

Dr. Pushpa and I left for the Pandan Mewah Hospital around noon to visit Chelvy, who is still in the Intensive Care Unit. Chelvy was conscious but couldn’t speak because she had an oxygen mask on, and tubes inserted into her nose. Tears trickled down her cheek when she saw me, and I was shocked to see my friend so changed and weak. I have visited friends infected with dengue before, but they were all sitting up in bed having soup or watching TV or reading magazines, so why was Chelvy in such critical condition? We sat and chatted with Chelvy for a while and assured her that she would soon be transferred to the normal ward and then bade her goodbye so other visitors could enter the ICU as well.

Went back to the shelter and resumed work. It took me over 3 hours to walk, bathe, groom and tick-wash all the dogs in Kennels G and H. Then it was time to clean the shelter. Thankfully, Reve is back from visiting her grandchildren in Australia, so she could help with the adoption and surrender counselling and attend to the care and feeding of the baby animals.

I soaped, scrubbed and disinfected the cages, maternity kennels, cattery, puppy kennels, admin/reception area and cooking area while the dogs frolicked and played in the shelter compound. Reve offered to help me hose and rinse the soaped areas so I could go home in time to have dinner with Vegan Eugene.

Reached home, cleaned myself up and went over to Marco’s Pizza down the road from the Officers’ Quarters. Vegan Eugene had a voucher for a free pizza on him so we demolished 2 large pizzas between us. I’m not too impressed with the service at Marco’s and would not have patronised their shop if not for their pukka pizzas.

After pizza, we went back to Eugene’s place for a bit of a chat with his beautiful black cat, Pearl. Spent the rest of the night back at the Officers’ Quarters cleaning the place up and washing the Battletank with rainwater collected over the course of 3 days.

Saturday, 22nd March 2008: SPCA and Mission Help Sorties

Back at the SPCA on Saturday morning. This time, I managed to catch a stray tomcat (black with white socks and chin) for neutering. He wasn’t a happy trooper at all about being caught and held captive. In fact, he was a spitting, hissing ball of rage. Once in Dr. Pushpa’s surgery, Ninja Cat made a spectacular leap out of the carrier and ran wildly all over the inside parameter of the surgery, knocking over anything that wasn’t nailed down. Muniandy had to be called in to help catch Ninja.

Ninja was duly neutered and left to recover from the anaesthetics in the carrier while I resumed my animal care duties. A whole busload of secondary school students had arrived at the shelter today to volunteer, but none of them were capable of doing anything of real value. They were afraid of being bitten by dogs, scratched by cats, bitten by ticks, soiled by animal waste, sodden by soap and water and otherwise harmed by sunshine and fresh air.

I blame the general ineptitude and fearfulness of today’s young people on their parents. Youngsters today are mollycoddled and bubble-wrapped by helicopter parents who prevent them from taking any risks and assure them that their only responsibility in life is to get good grades. The country now has an entire generation of pansies and cry-babies who don’t even know how to work a manual can opener.

I swore under my breath at the pale-faced ‘volunteers’ who provided Rose and I with an audience as we bathed the tick-infested dogs in the Sick Bay and dunked our canine charges in Tactick solution. I made some of the kids run errands, fetching pails and turning off taps, but even the simplest of tasks was executed as though in slow-motion.

The dogs in Sick Bay, being mostly pound dogs and abuse cases, were understandably not appreciative of our efforts. Rose and I were bitten by 3 of the terrified dogs, the sight of which sent the ‘volunteers’ scuttling in fright, although there was a 5-foot-high wall between them and us in Sick Bay. I do declare that these ‘volunteers’ are lousier than any louse-bitten stray I’ve met.

It started raining around 1400 hours, right after we had completed bathing all the dogs in Sick Bay. I proceeded to clean and disinfect the kennels at the back while waiting for the rain to let up. Next, I cleaned the Cattery and the bathroom. Sugen, Reve and I fed the animals and washed the first round of dirty food bowls, and then Reve and I checked all the cats and dogs for signs of injury or illness and rendered medical treatment accordingly. After the vets and staff had left, I cleaned and mopped the office, admin/reception areas and puppy areas, while Reve cleaned the remaining kennels and cages.

The rain subsided around dusk. I brought Ninja Cat back to his new home at the Officers’ Quarters. You would think he’d be happy about that, but he refused to come out of the carrier and clawed me when I tried to coax him out. I tried to tip him out of the carrier into the cage (he was by now fully alert and recovering quite well from the surgery) and out he came – a black ball of fear, fury and hostility. He screamed and hissed at Pixie for a full 15 seconds, and dashed into the vacant house across the street.

I called the vet, Dr. Lim, for advice and she assured me that as long as Ninja is no longer stumbling, he will be okay. He escaped only 150 metres away from his previous home (the food stalls across the playground) and can navigate his way home. The castration process left him with a mere superficial skin cut, which will heal in days, especially since the cut has been medicated and sprayed. I was relieved to hear that but put some food out for him all the same.

Showered, cleaned the Officers’ Quarters up, drove out in the pouring rain to hand over a recycling directory to an MNS member Sharath, who has initiated a 3R project in his office, and barrelled my way back to the parental home for the rest of the weekend.

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