Ever since I commenced working here, I have had to be an Eleanor Rigby of sorts, wearing a face that I keep in a jar by the door. All the lonely people, where do they all come from? We're all just cogs in a machine, living an inauthentic existence and operating under the delusion that what we are doing is gratifying and significant.
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Saturday, 18th April 2009: SPCA Saturday and Glyn’s Farewell Dinner
SPCA shelter animals in need of good homes
I spent a good hour giving the Rowdies baths on Saturday morning prior to spending the rest of the day at the SPCA. The Rowdies all behaved commendably (for cats, that is), and there was less caterwauling this time around. The hair they shed in the shower, however, clogged up the entire drain outlet. I cleaned up after them and settled them on the living room couch to dry their fur before I left for the SPCA animal shelter.
There was good news when I arrived. The hamsters and rabbits have all been adopted, and apparently the rabbits would be taken to Dr. George for neutering once they were of age as well. I had brought carrots to the SPCA in vain, but the joy of knowing that the rabbits and hamsters had found homes surpassed this minor inconvenience.
Our adoption rates have dropped a little. As at 18th April, the surrender rate stood at 1,645 animals and the adoption rate stood at 568 animals. The SPCA shelter is currently home to approximately 450 cats and dogs and we are still operating above the recommended capacity. It is critical that animal care providers spay or neuter their companion animals, and important that animal-lovers adopt from shelters and pounds. The stray animal population explosion is a man-made problem and we have to make each person accountable for the animals under their care for there to be a permanent solution to this issue.
A lady, evidently of means, came by to surrender 6 puppies as she was going on holiday abroad and was no longer interested in looking after the puppies. Rose and I had a tough time trying to advise her against surrendering such young animals and explained the need for her to take responsibility for not having spayed the mother dog, but obviously her vacation was more important than saving the lives of animals that depend on her.
We deliberately charged her a high surrender fee in order that we may provide an allowance for a fosterer to care for the puppies until they could be safely vaccinated and put up for adoption. The puppies were without a doubt absolutely adorable, and in all likelihood, all of them would be adopted, but this would mean that 6 existing shelter animals would lose their chance of finding new homes. I wish there was a more effective way of deterring people from abandoning and surrendering their animals. I’d like to see them take responsibility for the vaccination, neutering and rehoming of the young animals themselves.
The other good news this week was that Thean and the general workers had tick-washed almost all the dogs, and so we volunteers could concentrate on other work this week. Rose was busy assisting with the adoptions and surrenders today. I washed some of the new arrivals and at-large dogs in the Central Area, and sprayed them with diluted Taktic EC solution, but was pleased to find the other dogs satisfactorily clean.
When I had finished washing the dogs, I proceeded to clean and disinfect the Hospital kennels and Kennels C, D, E and F. I let the dogs out to play in the Dogs’ Playground so I could clean their living quarters. I scrubbed the water bowls and gave the dogs clean drinking water.
Cindy and Cerys arrived at the Shelter for tea and a powwow just as I had finished cleaning the kennels at the back. I cleaned myself up and joined them at the warong for tea. Tea, cakes and crème caramel was my treat. Cindy had done a great job of representing Green Living at a corporate event, and brought back a cheque for the Malaysian Nature Society as her spoils of war.
After Cindy had taken Cerys home for a nap, I returned to the shelter to clean the Cattery. I don’t know who was on Cattery duty on Saturday but he must be one lazy, good-for-nothing so-and-so. There was no paper in the litter trays or cat baskets. All one had to do was to reline the litter trays with paper from the cat baskets and reline the cat baskets with clean newspaper. It hardly takes any effort to keep the animals comfortable and healthy, but any effort is simply too much for some people.
While I was in the midst of cleaning the baskets and litter trays, I spotted a blind cat in a basket right at the back. He must have been quite a recent arrival because he was not there last week when I was cleaning. The poor cat was so sick that it shocked me that they had kept him alive in misery. There was discharge from his eyes, nose and mouth the colour of dark blood. The paper in the basket was full of dried-up blood-coloured waste.
Obviously the poor suffering cat had not been able to come out of his basket since his arrival, and have not had any food or water. I tried to give him some water but he hissed at me, the way cats in great fear and pain do. He had been suffering for too long. I cried in frustration and anger. If the vets were able to help him, they should have done so immediately. If the poor cat is beyond help, then he should have been put out of his misery at the soonest instance. I don’t know how many days he had been suffering alone in the Cattery until I noticed him.
In spite of his hissing, I pulled off my gloves and laid my hands on his emaciated body and prayed with all my might. I recited my prayers in Pali, seeking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. I recited what I could remember of our Theravada tradition of transference of merit to the dying or departed. I wasn’t very diligent in my study of Buddhist scriptures, and so I wasn’t certain if I even had enough merit and good karma accumulated. But I figured that it would be a safe bet to transfer whatever I have to the poor kitty in order that he may be reborn into a life with less suffering. I could always try to acquire merit again from scratch.
I felt the cat’s body relax, as he realised that his pain may soon be over. I dried my tears on my incredibly dirty shirt and exited the Cattery to get Dr. Lim to humanely end the cat’s suffering. Even after Dr. Lim had euthanized the cat - my cat now, because I don’t want him to be without someone to love him in his death and meet him at the Rainbow Bridge – I could feel his presence linger on in the Cattery. I apologised to him as I cleaned out his erstwhile basket, and told him how sorry I was that the people in the Shelter had been too busy to care.
I was more at peace with myself by the time I had finished cleaning the Cattery. All the cats by then had clean bedding and fresh food and water. I moved on to clean the cages behind the Office. After I had scrubbed, disinfected and flushed the cages, I proceeded to clean the Office and Front Reception/Admin area.
I left Reve and Marianne to hose down the floor at 1900h while I went up to the Bungalow to shower, change and get ready for Glyn’s farewell dinner. I didn’t get Glyn anything that would remind him of Malaysia. Ever the pragmatist, I got Glyn a dynamo LED flashlight with a compass and utility knife, and he promptly went out to test the flashlight in the dark corners of the garden.
Cozy House Restaurant at the Great Eastern Mall .
The 7 of us – Nicole, Glyn, Murugan, Jacinta, Shahrul, Shahrul’s husband and I - went to Cozy House Restaurant in Great Eastern Mall. We had a lovely dinner, although we were all a bit sad that Glyn would be going back to the UK.
Our conversation moved from SPCA-related issues to whether the destruction of possums in New Zealand and badgers in the UK on grounds that they were carriers of bovine tuberculosis was all a big conspiracy. We soon found ourselves drifting inexplicably to ghost stories and started exchanging SPCA shelter haunting anecdotes. Shahrul was insistent that the presence in the storeroom was a benign one, but I think Linda, Muniandy and I know better, having experienced its wrath firsthand.
I regretted engaging in the conversation about ghosts and hauntings when I realized that I had a long drive back to the parental home in Rawang around midnight, and that there would be no streetlights along the Templer Park stretch, which, incidentally, is reputed to be haunted.
Our collective mood lightened up somewhat with the arrival of dessert. Of course, I had to order the biggest serving of ice cream available, and I managed to demolish my dessert faster than anyone else.
Went back to the SPCA Bungalow to feed the animals and clean up after the foundling kitten at the back. I had a mug of coffee so I would not doze off on the drive home. I shook hands with Glyn and waved everyone goodbye, and then barreled the Battletank back to the parental home with the radio on at full blast to scare away any lingering ghosties and nasties. That’ll teach me to share ghost stories again at night.
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Sunday, 19th April 2009: Covert Mum’s Birthday Eve
Covert Mum has the unfortunate distinction of having the same birthday as Adolf Hitler, and the dubious good fortune of having an offspring like me. As Mum’s birthday this year falls on a Monday, I decided to celebrate it with her a day early.
Covert Twin and I had agreed to delay Mum’s birthday celebrations until after payday, but I decided there was no harm in celebrating it twice, with or without my brothers. On Sunday morning, I gave Mum a Body Shop gift set (I had actually won this at the Raptor Watch Quiz. It was one of the toughest quizzes I have ever had to do), a box of her favourite dried fruits and berries and a card from Amber and me.
I spent the morning giving Amber a bath, washing my stinky SPCA clothes and cleaning Amber and Chocky’s kennels. Took the parents out for a nice lunch at one of the new franchise outlets in town. The food was good and worth the slightly steeper prices. Took the parents grocery shopping after lunch and bought Mum a cake for our tea.
In the afternoon, I cleaned the living and dining rooms and mopped the floor before taking Amber out for a car ride and taking both doggies out for a jog. Took the parents out to town again for dinner as I didn’t want Covert Mum doing any cooking or cleaning at all on her birthday. Spent the evening tidying the parental home before I went back to the BOQ.
Many Happy Returns, Mum, and here’s wishing you good health and happiness always.
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