Newsflash: Tabitha has been adopted as of Wednesday, 23rd Sept. This means that all 3 Whisketeers have successfully found new homes. Thank you, everyone, for your support! The Whisketeers send their love.
The previous workweek had been a hectic one, but one filled with enjoyable social commitments nevertheless.
As is becoming a tradition in the Unit that I work in, we had a gathering on Thursday night, 17th September 2009, as an early farewell party for one of our interns. We adjourned to La Bodega after dinner to play Taboo. It was a raucous, fast-paced game, and there were clearly several players who are better than the others. Towards the end, we were so psyched up that we were all practically shouting the questions and answers. Even other patrons stood around to watch and cheer us on whenever anyone got a correct answer.
We left the place after midnight, hoarse from all the shouting. My team won by a large margin. I didn't want the interns to have to take cabs home due to the midnight surcharge, so I drove them all back to their respective apartments. It was around 0130h when I finally reached the BOQ, and 0300h when I finally finished the housework. Red Bull will be getting a lot of business from me the following day.
Friday was considerably more relaxed. Vegan Eugene and I went out to dinner at a vegan restaurant (not far from the St. Ignatius Church) that he had just discovered. A meal at the shop cost only RM2.00, and I surmised that it was more of a community kitchen than a profit-making enterprise. I pointed out that the restaurant's name, "Fo Guang", means "The Light of Buddha" and that the restaurant was probably run by a Buddhist association. The clientele was comfortingly multi-faith and multi-ethnic.
Fireworks, contraband but still widely available, illuminated the night sky as the midnight hour arrived. There were still 24 hours to go until Aidilfitri, but our 4-day weekend has begun.
Saturday, 19th September 2009:
Months ago, I had offered to deliver a presentation on "Setting Green Living Priorities and Practicing the 3Rs" to the Sunshine Ladies, a group of dedicated volunteers who work with the differently-abled. I learned of this group through its founder, my blog buddy Keats, and was inspired and touched by the good work they do. As Keats had expressed interest in my 3R talk, we managed to fix a date and she did her best rallying her friends and other interested parties to attend the talk.
The talk took place at the beautiful and massive home of one of Keats' friends. It was a warm morning but the ersatz rainforest in our gracious hostess' home provided a screen for the heat. The water in the swimming pool looked cool and inviting, but we had to set up the LCD projector and test out the videos and slides before I may look around.
The guests started trickling in at 1000h, ruddy-cheeked and cheerful from their morning exercise routines. I was surprised at the size of the crowd, and slightly awed by the fact that all of them belong to the upper stratum of society. Would they be willing to listen to what I had to say about the environmental cost of big homes, air travel and shopping expeditions?
Fortunately, they were! They were the nicest, most engaging and most participatory audience I have ever had. They all had ideas to contribute and stories to share, and I was glad because it showed that they were not bored. We played the 3R Game, went through the slides and video presentations, and had interactive discussion sessions. Although my talk typically lasts 2 hours, it went on for another hour on Saturday because all the participants had something important to contribute to the discussion. Most of them are involved in community work and many have instituted environmentally-friendly practices at home such as chemical-free cleaning and composting.
At the end of the talk, many of the participants came forward to purchase the Green Living booklets and get my contact information. Some made cash contributions to Green Living, although I didn't request it. We had a lovely tea party after the talk and I sampled everything. I chatted with my kind hostess and played with her dogs before going home with the pumpkin cake and jellies that she had packed for me.
I am grateful that the talk was well-received, and pleased to have made the acquaintance of new friends. I trust I shall be able to participate in some of the Sunshine Ladies' activities in future. The world is a good place, full of good people, if only you know where to look.
Sunday, 20th September 2009:
I gave the Rowdies a bath on Sunday morning before going to Ampang for my blog buddy Pak Idrus’ Hari Raya Open House for lunch. It took me a while to locate his lovely home. His garden plants created a sylvan veil for his gate, but I thought I recognised the green classic Volvo parked outside. I then heard a friendly voice calling my name and went in to salam with Pak Idrus and his dear wife. His daughter Lin was there with family friends as well. We sat in his plant-filled and tastefully-decorated verandah, enjoying the scrumptious food and company. More guests arrived and joined in the conversation, and we chatted about everything from cats to politics to dentists. We had homemade apple and walnut pie, courtesy of Lin, for dessert.
Photos borrowed from Pak Idrus' blog without permission, so please visit him here if you like what you see.
I thanked my host and hostesses and bade everyone goodbye after lunch. Pak Idrus' house is only 2 minutes away from the SPCA. I changed into my SPCA workclothes and started cleaning the cat cages in the Front Reception/Admin area. Tabitha was still there and I promised to bring her home by Thursday if she were not adopted by then.
Rose and I had wanted to wash the dogs but the weather was drizzly and unpredictable, and Dr. Pushpa didn't think it was a good idea. She did, however, assure us that the staff would tickwash the dogs on weekdays when the weather was better.
I cleaned the Cattery instead, scrubbing and disinfecting each cat basket and litter tray. I swabbed and washed the shelves, cages and floor and made sure all the cats had fresh bedding, food and water. Next, I cleaned the Maternity Kennels and Hospital. I took away the old newspapers and miscellaneous junk left on top of the cages. I then cleaned the Puppy Area and Front Office/Reception/Admin area and took out the trash. The washroom was in quite a state, as usual, and so I had to clean and disinfect it before I could shower and change in it.
I went to the night market and organic produce shop to pick up some things for Covert Mum and Covert Dad before going back to the BOQ to tidy up and feed and clean up after the Rowdies. Otis is recovering really well and you couldn't even tell that there had been injury to his left eye before. He taught himself to use the litter tray from the day he arrived and has been a fluffy bundle of joy since.
Started the drive back to the parental home around 2130h. Arrived to find a nasty shock (the parents didn't want to tell me as they were afraid that I would drive like a maniac to get home faster) -- Chocky had hindquarter paralysis and couldn't walk. It had happened very suddenly sometime around dinnertime.
I massaged Chocky and applied pressure to his back and legs but he did not flinch or show any signs that he was in any pain. I have only ever seen such a wobbly gait in dogs suffering from hip dysplasia or distemper. But Chocky has been vaccinated, is a mixed breed, and is too young to be suffering from hip problems. What was going on?
We let Chocky rest while I comforted the parents and tried to call up all the vets I know to fix an appointment. Covert Twin arrived a little later, confused and upset that his dog wasn't walking. It was a long night for all of us, and I know I wasn't the only one who came out to take a peek at Chocky that night to make sure that he was still with us.
Monday, 21st September - Tuesday, 22nd September 2009:
We rushed Chocky to the Gasing Animal Hospital as soon as it was open on Monday morning. Thankfully, we had 2 days of public holidays and did not have to go on emergency leave. Chocky was still weak and unable to stand. The vet gave him a thorough checkup but was unable to determine what was wrong. Chocky was given an antibiotic injection in case his ailment was caused by bacteria or a virus, and a steroid injection to reduce any inflammation. A blood sample was taken for testing. We were instructed to bring Chocky home to rest and to fast him for 12 hours for the x-ray the following day.
Chocky’s condition started to improve after the steroid jab. I did housework to take my mind off my fears for poor Chocky. I cleaned the Venetian blinds, some of the kitchen cabinets and the living room. I scrubbed the garden fountain and some of the flower pots. I gave Amber a bath and prepared food for Amber and Chocky. By evening, Chocky was walking again. The vet called at night and informed us that the blood test results were back, but it showed that Chocky’s condition wasn’t caused by an allergy or ingestion of toxins. We weren’t taking any chances. We will still take him to the hospital again in the morning.
Tuesday morning saw a very hungry and despondent Chocky enter the car. Once at the hospital again, however, Chocky’s mood improved after he made a new friend, a Spitz-cross who took an immediate liking to Chocky. Soon it was Chocky’s turn to see the vet. The vet did another examination of Chocky and decided that an x-ray would be unnecessary as Chocky’s problem was probably neurological in origin and an x-ray would not be helpful. We were sent off with 3 different kinds of medication for Chocky, who was by now back to his usual gregarious self. Chocky went home to a hero’s welcome. We all hope that his condition will not recur. Just to be on the safe side, we will be putting him on neurobion supplements from now on.
I spent the rest of the day spring cleaning the master bedroom, doing the laundry and mopping the floor. It’s good to have our old Chocky back, and I hope it lasts. He gave us such a scare, even Amber was worried and was not her usual self at all. She refused to go for her walks and wanted to keep Chocky within sight all the time. Something told her that Chocky wasn’t well and she was sensitive to it. I love Amber all the more for her protectiveness, and Chocky all the more for his vulnerability.
Loving something as fragile and ephemeral as animals leaves me with an exquisite pain, and it really is the heart that feels the pain. But it also fills me with a fierce, protective love and courage and makes me want to be a better person that I may be worthy of their love. And when I look into the eyes of my canine and feline children, I know I am fortunate beyond measure to be able to love them, and to be able to receive their love. I would not trade that for the world.