Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Bravo Zulu and Charlie Mike, Commando.

Saturday, 16th May 2009: Little Big Dog’s Gotcha Day

It has been a month of birthdays and gotcha days. We celebrated Chocky a.k.a Little Big Dog’s first gotcha day on Saturday with cakes from the Bark-ery, a one-person outfit making organic pet treats, operated and managed by my good friend Meem. Meem and I met up on Friday night at Ikea and we exchanged news about all the animal charities in the country and how they are responding to the Pulau Ketam abandoned dogs crisis.

We practically had to be shooed away by the Ikea cafeteria staff when it closed at 2300h. I adjourned to Tesco across the street to do my monthly grocery shopping. For someone who works the hours I do, I cannot even begin to describe what a boon it is to have hypermarkets that open until 0100h. It is delightful to be able to do my shopping long after the shrieking toddlers and casual browsers have left, when the aisles are quiet and the queues are short and orderly.

However, soon my penchant for shopping for groceries after midnight may no longer be a necessity. I have decided to go for Plan B, as working from home seems more and more attractive to me by the day. Working from home will enable me to set my own goals and produce the results I want without the aggravation of attending interminable meetings, suffering in sick buildings, completing endless status reports and getting mired in office politics.

I finished my grocery shopping, deposited my cloth shopping carriers into the Battletank and roared on back to the parental home in Rawang for the weekend. Amber and Chocky were playing in the yard when I arrived, and ran up to greet me with much display of tongues and wagging tails. I brought out the box of special muffins Meem made (made with ground lean meat, sweet potato, parmesan cheese and all sorts of good things) and gave them two each. Amber and Chocky went ape, prancing on their hind legs, barking, spinning and dancing with the fervor of dervishes.

I gave them more of the little muffins on Saturday as a reward for behaving well when I gave them baths and brushed their teeth, and saved the rest of the treats for their tea and dinner. We were having company for dinner, and so I cleaned the parental home, polished the furniture, washed the rugs, mopped the floor and swept the garden and porch. Covert Mum’s flowers seem to have thrived despite the diabolical heat and humidity, and the parental garden was a riot of colours.

Covert Twin came home in the evening with his girlfriend and her family, and took photos of the capering canines as they enjoyed their cakes. Chocky also received a proper birthday present – a large chew toy – and I wondered if Amber noticed that we didn’t get her a proper present on her gotcha day in January. All I did for Amber’s gotcha day was buy her a jar of dog biscuits and a bottle of chewable pet vitamins and take her on a car ride.

We (the humans, I mean) went out for dinner at a restaurant and I spent the rest of Saturday night tidying up the parental home and doing some translation and copywriting work as a favour for a friend. I haven’t all that much to report except that it’s been a fairly good week.

Chocky and Amber ~ Best of Friends!

Sunday, 17th May 2009: SPCA Sunday

I’ve been receiving news that the animal welfare groups involved in the Pulau Ketam dog rescue operations are feuding with one another and openly displaying hostility against one another on the island. Well, not exactly towards each other, but all the unregistered animal rescue/welfare groups are on one side and the SPCA is on the other side of the fight ring. The initial information I received was that some of those in the SPCA are trying to prohibit other animal welfare groups from collecting funds and attempting to rescue and rehome the strays, since these groups are not registered. The other groups are, of course, reciprocating with threats of their own because they were, after all, the first in on the scene, and the SPCA only came in later when the media brouhaha began.

Insanity has reached new heights, people. It is obvious that no single group could rescue all 300 abandoned dogs on their own, so why not work together to achieve a common aim? There are allegations that the SPCA asked the other rescue groups to ‘get off the Island’ and to relinquish the floating platform they had painstakingly built to the SPCA. Then there are counter-allegations that it was in fact the independent rescue groups that had ordered the SPCA off the Island, and jeered at the SPCA for having spent money on a new van for its inspectorate. Each side is equally antagonistic to the other. If only people spent the energy they invest in fighting in helping animals and the environment instead! Has the world gone mad? No wonder Malaysian politics is in the state it is in!

If I were the Chairperson of the SPCA, I would welcome the involvement of other rescue groups and draw up Terms of Reference to encourage recognized animal rescuers and animal welfare volunteers to utilize SPCA resources and facilities, such as the Low Cost Spay and Neuter Clinic. Instead, each interested party here is using the cause of animal welfare to promote their personal agendas and as a public relations platform to bring themselves fame and glory. Once again, we can witness how those with vested interests are undermining the causes of justice, transparency and service. Doesn’t anyone remember the value and importance of service anymore?

So far, the SPCA is doing a reasonably competent job of rescuing and rehabilitating the abandoned strays. A Buddhist organization has been footing the vet bills and all the rescued dogs have been washed, treated for mange and vaccinated.

Animal Inspector Cunera checking on the rescued dogs and ensuring their comfort and well-being.

Dogs being transported to the Inspectorate van to be taken to the vet (Dr. George) for treatment.

After checking on the rescued dogs (who were all napping in the afternoon heat in cages up at the Bungalow), I went down to the Shelter for my weekly 5-6 hours of volunteering. Reve was away in Australia to visit her grandchildren, and that left Rose and I as the only volunteers for the weekend.

Contrary to popular opinion, the SPCA is not losing its volunteers because the members of the public are apathetic; the SPCA is losing its volunteers because its staff and officers are apathetic. I don’t blame the first-time volunteers for not wanting to come back – the staff and officers can be downright rude, obnoxious, self-serving and indifferent. It is a myth that people work for non-profit organizations because they care more deeply for the causes the organizations champion than the rest of society does. Personal experience and empirical evidence tells me that people who work for non-profit organizations are often simply people who are too lazy, apathetic, bitter, maladjusted and unmotivated to look for jobs elsewhere.

At the same time, members of the public who want to make a difference, and be the difference they want to see, must bear in mind that they are volunteering their time, energy, skills and resources out of love and commitment to a cause, and not because they expect any form of acknowledgement and gratitude from the organization. Animal shelter volunteers must remind themselves that they are doing it out of love for the animals and an inextinguishable desire to make a permanent difference in the lives of these animals and to create opportunities for their subsequent adoption. There is, after all, no guarantee that you will not have to deal with unpleasant and rude people in your working life. If disagreeable clients do not impel you towards a life of genial unemployment, then why should a truculent animal shelter officer stop you from trying to help the animals you profess to love?

The Central Area of the Shelter was full of joyfully yapping dogs at play, released for a few hours of exercise. I gently leashed and led away those of them with mange for medicated baths and tick rinse. As I washed them, I pressed my cheek against theirs and told them how beautiful they are and how I wish that tomorrow will be their lucky day. The dogs pressed their wet muzzles against me and sighed with pleasure as I scrubbed their skinny bodies.

I let the dogs run around to dry off after their baths and proceeded to clean the Shelter. I swabbed and disinfected the Maternity Kennels, Cattery and kennels behind the Office. I was glad to see that the vets had finally spayed a number of young dogs that are now convalescing in the Hospital. I cleaned the Front Reception/Admin area and scrubbed the floor, litter trays and water buckets. I finally finished cleaning the Shelter around 1930h and did a final check on the animals together with our dedicated Shelter general workers, Muniandy and Mazni.

After having showered and changed at the Bungalow around 2010h, I drove on over to Serina’s erstwhile house to pick up the potted plants that she could not bring with her. Went back to the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters, cleaned the house and litter trays, fed the kitties, sorted out the things I needed for the upcoming MNS Open Day and read the newspapers in bed with the Rowdies sitting on the papers.

(As a postscript: I wouldn’t mind switching professions to become a writer for Top Gear or any reputable motoring magazine. Judging by what Jeremy Clarkson does, I wouldn’t have to know anything of any consequence about the cars I am reviewing. I can just waffle on in the most officious way possible about everything from the Labour Party to public schools, and include a superficial, flippant and offensive paragraph about the car I am reviewing, and still have car manufacturers clamouring to have me review their cars.)

Tuesday, 19th May 2009: Pixie’s Gotcha Day

We celebrated Pixie’s 3rd gotcha day back at the Bachelor Officers’ Quarters on Tuesday night. I had to work late again, so Jake and Jessica bought KFC and deboned it for the Rowdies’ dinner party. A fight broke out over who gets the best piece (well, Mini-Me did, in the end) and I came home in time to clean up the mess the Rowdies made dragging their dinner out of their bowls, off the placemats, onto the dining room floor and behind the computer table. Ah well. C’est la vie. Even the most rambunctious cat is still more civilized than the average lawyer.

Pixie, when I first brought him home in 2006. I found him in a drain behind my former office and brought him home on the train in a sturdy paper shopping bag.

Pixie the roly-poly warrior cat as he is today.

~ CO78, Over To You ~


mamasita said...

How do you do it CO 78? You have so much energy and exuberance..adajer buat ni and buat tu without feeling tired.You are a terrific person and tak kenal the words 'penat', 'jemu' and 'malas'!
Great attitude and a very admirable personality.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Hee hee! Thank you, Datin! Isn't Pixie handsome?

Unknown said...

That's a lot of work to look after the beloved pets. And you seem to be coping well. Congrates!

Angie said...

Pixie is sooo cute and has grown to such a beautiful cat!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Re Keats: Thank you, Keats! I don't see it as work, though. My animal babies are worth every effort, they pay me back fully in love. Just like your handsome Retriever!

Re Angie: Hee hee! Thanks, Angie! Pixie is a very dog-like cat! He greets visitors at the door and follows them in. He wags his tail when excited and rolls over to have his tummy scratched!

Ellen Whyte said...

A jolly good read; love the summary about the animal rescue issues.

Working from home is GREAT! Except that it can be tough to organise proper cash flow.

What will you do? Lawyering? Writing?

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Re Ellen: Am doing my best to help both sides in the whole animal welfare group battle, because at stake are the lives of the animals. Life can go on for the people if a group gets deregistered, you don't starve to death. But guess what happens to the animals?

As for my career, I was on the verge of signing a freelance contract with my ex-employers, a legal information service provider/law book publisher, to do drafting/writing, editing, translation and proofreading. Then a few days ago, the UNHCR called, and so now everything's put on hold after I've spoken to the UNHCR senior officers again. Am still planning on doing editing etc on the side and see if I can cope with holding down 2 jobs.

Yes, you are right, I don't sleep.

nat said...

Well said about NGO politics. You have to take a step back and laugh sometimes. All the bickering and they're all missing out on a great opportunity to have an influence for real CHANGE. ...sighs...

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dr.Nat, you are our voice of reason and clarity! Seriously, most people in NGOs are insane! What is it about these organisations that attract the mentally unstable?!?! Yes, I can laugh about it for all of 30 seconds, until I realise that it's the animals that are paying the ultimate price of the stupidity of an incompetent few! How did you manage to do it for so many years?

vithya velaithan said...

I love your post, especially on making a difference and volunteering. Found your blog through a ransom search for spca. I'm planning to volunteer. I hope peoples attitude wont deter me from doing what i can for the 4 legged frens.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Vithya,
Thank you for your interest in volunteering. Things have improved since this post and the shelter staff are more hospitable and cooperative to new volunteers. Please let me know when you intend to come. I am at the SPCA on most Saturday afternoons, and will be able to provide some guidance.