Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Vesākha Weekend and Animal Updates

The last two weeks have been a flurry of activity -- dental appointments, meetings with volunteers, making final preparations for the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Open Day and fielding questions after my Letter to the Editor on the animal-testing facility was published.

This post, therefore, will be full of non sequitors and disjointed jottings. Sometimes I feel like I am the protagonist in an absurdist play. Today, for instance, I held a cat in an Arsenal jersey and a baby bat that fell out of a tree. Not both at the same time, of course.

Mizz was adopted by SPCA General Worker, Thim, and now lives in the SPCA Bungalow with the Inspectorate and PR & MarComms Team. I was there this afternoon to deliver books to the Shelter and to pick up a copy of Earthlings and the cruelty investigation manual. Mizz doesn't seem to mind wearing the Arsenal jersey all day and spends a lot of her time on the window ledge.

My colleague Nick saw this baby bat on the lawn in front of our department's cabin and pointed it out to me. I had to put the baby bat somewhere safe from automobiles, feral cats and human feet.

The baby bat was kept safely hidden in some dense foliage behind our office and given papaya to eat in case he was hungry. He looked a little dehydrated but otherwise healthy. There were no signs of injury. I have picked up many stranded bats before. They were mostly disoriented by sunlight and winded or stunned from having fallen off their roosting places. They are usually able to orient themselves and fly off safely at nightfall.

Gerald Durrell and I would probably get along famously well with each other.

Friday, 28th May 2010: Vesākha Day and other news

The Buddhist Maha Vihara in Brickfields

As is my custom every Vesākha Eve, I recited the Jayamangala Gatha (Stanzas of Victory) on Thursday night. My command of Pali and Sanskrit has deteriorated from want of practice and the only stanza I seem to be able to remember without effort is the one on Nalagiri the Bull Elephant. Trust me to only remember the bits with animals in them.

Being able to sleep in on a weekday is such luxury, and I made the most of it on Vesākha (Wesak) Day as it was a public holiday. I spent a good part of the day doing housework, giving the Rowdies a bath, getting Whoosh (my fostered cat) vaccinated and completing some office work which I had brought home in my thumbdrive. My colleagues and I have decided not to return Whoosh to the stalls except as a last resort, as she did not receive adequate care there and we did not want to risk Whoosh getting hit by motor vehicles again.

Light dispels ignorance.

I took the train to the Vihara in Brickfields in the evening to meet up with Covert Mum and Covert Dad. I took the parents to dinner at Gopala's, one of my favourite restaurants, where we had lovely dosai and some pretty unusual but tasty soy satay.

I saw the parents off and then walked back to the Vihara, where I was to meet up with my friends from the Facebook group, Sampah Masyarakat (roughly translated into "Society's Rubbish", or "scum of society"), as we were to conduct a cleanup campaign in the Vihara and the streets around the area. I failed to meet up with the group and all attempts to contact them failed. I had brought my own biodegradable garbage bags but picking up litter while the crowds were still coming in was an exercise in futility. People were dropping litter faster than the volunteers were picking them up. I didn't want to get trampled to death in the stampede and so I gave up after a while.

At the booth operated by the Aloka Foundation, someone called me by name. It was a lady who was a participant of one of my 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) workshops in 2009, and I asked her if she had seen any of our fellow activists there. She did not, but she did have candles to offer to me instead. I made a donation for the lighting of candles in Lumbini, the birthplace of the Gautama. One of the candles was in the name of my parents, and the other would bear That Special Someone's name and mine. It was nice to think that somewhere in the foothills of the Himalayas, there would be a little light shining for him and me.

I returned to the Vihara to recite my poojas, and on my way out spotted an elderly lady looking lost. She was unable to contact her daughter and her phone battery had died on her. I offered to call her daughter on my phone and to walk her to the Tamil Methodist Church where her daughter was waiting for her anxiously. She accepted my offer gratefully and it took us ten minutes to walk to her daughter’s car. The elderly lady was wilting in the heat by then. It was late when I finally got to the train station, and I was by then too exhausted to even think about attempting to contact the other Sampah Masyarakat members again.

I didn’t like the fact that I had failed to participate in Sampah Masyarakat’s cleanup campaign after I had agreed to do so. I didn’t like the fact that it was an addition to my already long list of sins and transgressions – all those red lights I’ve run, illegal U-turns I’ve made, trash I’ve talked and swear words I’ve uttered. I am glad there isn’t any Heaven or Hell in Buddhism. Judging by the number of offences I’ve committed, I don’t have any doubt as to where I’ll end up.

Saturday, 29th May 2010: Terror Kitty and other new friends

Saturday was no day of rest for me, as I had promised the SPCA officers that I would be at the shelter early to guide the new volunteers who wish to engage in animal care work. The new volunteers -- CH and Manoj who are undergoing training as volunteer dog trainers, and two teenage girls -- and I started bathing and tickwashing the dogs as soon as it was warm enough, around 0945 hrs.

CH and Manoj rinsing off one of the Kennel F dogs.

Manoj is a natural at handling dogs.

The two girls worked very slowly and I had to keep checking to make sure they had rinsed the shampoo off properly.

We were joined at the B Kennels by a group of students from Taylor's College, who mostly stood around chatting with each other and taking photographs. Most of the time, one of the students would attempt to help us, while the others stood around watching.

I think Manoj asked for volunteers, not an audience.

Manoj left by 1130 hrs and the students left shortly after, despite not having done much. CH and I finished bathing all the dogs in Kennels B Ext and B and I tidied up the dog-washing kit. I cleaned the Cattery before cleaning myself up and getting the carrier from the Battletank to bring a spayed cat home in.

The latest cat to be spayed under Project Second Chance is a feral female caught and sent to the SPCA by my friend, Leena. I had agreed to bring the cat home and provide post-surgery care. The cat was a holy terror -- the fiercest I have ever met. She ripped the gloves right off our hands and bit the carrier door. When we tried to guide her into the carrier using sticks, she bit the sticks (which were at least 2 inches in diameter) and broke them right into two. We finally got her into the carrier after much sweating, heaving and cursing.

I drove home with the terrorist in my backseat yowling for all she was worth. That cat is living proof that spaying doesn't necessarily make them any more docile.

I reached the Bachelor Pad, set up the holding cage for Terror Kitty, and tried to transfer her into the cage. She turned on me with a look of pure hatred in her eyes, slashed my arm and dashed out of the gate and down the street, with me in hot pursuit.

And that was it. I couldn't find her. Terror Kitty was nowhere to be seen. I felt like a failure. I didn't know what to say to Leena, except that Terror Kitty would probably be okay because it has been over 5 days since her spaying, that the wound has healed and she is in good health.

It was while I was brooding over poor Terror Kitty that my friend Pat came over in the late afternoon with her husband and daughter and a carload full of good things to be donated to Green Living and the SPCA for our Pre-Loved Books stall and our quarterly Jumble Sale respectively. It was raining like the clappers then but my dear friends did not abort their mission to deliver the promised items to me.

I spent the rest of the evening on housework, and put a saucer of kibbles out for Terror Kitty in case she returned. I made one last search attempt for Terror Kitty before driving back to the parental home on Saturday night.

Terror Kitty, wherever you are, I hope you are alright.


Cat-from-Sydney said...

We've sent out feelers to the cat patrol in your area to look out for Terror Kitty. I think it's very likely that she's a Scared Kitty. Not many females would willingly want to be spayed, you know....unless they're queens like moi... purrrr....meow!

Ellen Whyte said...

Hope Terror Kitty is fine. She ought to be after 5 days. Look for mauled cows maybe?

MNS on Sunday was terrific! Will call you soon.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Kitties-In-Sydney,

I know Terror Kitty is really just a Scared Kitty, which is why I cried so much. She must be so cold, lonely, hungry and scared in a strange neighbourhood. I know her wound has probably healed... I'm just afraid she might try to find her way home to Leena 60km away.... and try to cross highways and such. :(

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Ellen, Au and Target,

I was looking out for mauled dogs. I found none. Then I looked out for shredded car tyres, torn-up front yards and traces of chicken feathers. I found none. Hope Terror Kitty managed to avoid starvation by raiding cat and dog food bowls left outside.

Pat said...

Hello dear,

I remember about Terror Kitty! Chuan, Larnee and I were all totally impressed with a kitty who could break that stick in two!!! Girl Power, or rage power, eh?

Yes, she must have been so terrified! Only bad things seemed to happen to her after she was 'caught', so I don't blame her for fleeing. How was she to know that it was all for her best?

I hope you make lots of money from the books; and that people find good use for the other stuff we sent. I don't know how we'd accumulated so much stuff - but I'm trying to live lean now. Fingers crossed, it'll work!

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Pat,
Thank you so much for coming all the way to deliver the books and things in the rain! Some of the items have gone to the refugees, I think they 'sapu' the bags immediately and with much glee. Some of the stuff has gone to the SPCA Charity Shop. I took only 30% of the books to the MNS Open Day to sell at our Green Living booth, and we sold over 30 books but made at least RM250 - 300 out of it! Thank you so much. We are keeping the books to bring to our next public event. The other volunteers are among our best customers. All the photography books and many of the cookbooks were sold and fetched a good price! So, thank you! We used some of the money raised on the same day itself, to reimburse me for the art equipment we bought for our nature camps and storytelling sessions, so we can take our message of nature conservation to many more schools, orphanages, clubs and community centres! Doesn't that make you feel all happy inside? One good turn... and what a ripple of goodness it created, eh?

mNadeshiko said...

waaaaa.. your day is full of activities~ yay~!!
oh, in my university, we have this Festival committee, and im one of the member. we have "cleaning the park" activity every month. although the park is pretty clean.. so, we are like berjalan2 more than kutip sampah.

~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Ili,

I don't think your Festival committee would have very much work to do at all! Would they like to come to Malaysia to clean up parks and beaches for us? ;o)

Unknown said...

I've never ever handled a bat. Did the baby bat behave? I know they fly around our garden at night.
May all the lights of Vesakha bring us peace.
Talk about sampah. People are too selfish and they just throw anywhere they like:(( Let's have a cleaner country for everyone.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
~CovertOperations78~ said...

Dear Keats,

The baby bat was very scared but ate one of the pieces of papaya we left. My colleague spotted the bat flying off around 7.15 p.m. last night, so that means the little bat is fine.

I wonder why people in developing countries don't think a celebration is a celebration unless there is lots of litter. I would have thought that on religious observance days, one would want to be extra good and pick up after oneself, but NOOOOO.... Malaysians leave a trail of litter wherever they go, a la Hansel and Gretel's breadcrumbs.