Friday, 31 July 2015

Monthly Bucket List June & July 2015

I had a draft of my Monthly Bucket List for June going, but somehow the draft was inadvertently deleted and I could recover nothing of it. Still, June is not a month I remember with great fondness. Shadow's illness and subsequent death is very hard on me, and threw many things off schedule, which is only proper, as my babies' safety and health must without exception be my top priority. Travel plans and mini adventures and projects were abandoned and home improvement projects were put on hold 'until Shadow got better'. Sadly, he never did.

Still, the past two months have been incredibly busy and eventful. Moving house, doing home repairs and improvements, taking on new duties and responsibilities... has it only been two months? I feel as though I have accomplished enough for a year. In any event, I did a joint Monthly Bucket List for June and July as I have forgotten half the things I recorded in June.

1. Make a new friend

In early June, Serina, Nurashikin and Shalan came over to the Wee Green Flat to help me with the move, and brought their friend Atan along. They worked like fiends, helping me clean windows and grills, repair cracked plaster skim, line the insides of cabinets and surfaces of furniture with clear Contact paper, and put up my Ikea bed and wardrobe. Atan is a diligent worker, expecting nothing but friendship in return, but after a grueling day of helping out, I treated the whole gang to a sumptuous dinner at Bubba Gump. I enjoyed their company tremendously and we kept ribbing Atan about his dance skills, which he refused to demonstrate for us in public. I will miss having Serina and Lan living so close by, and I hope to remain in touch with Atan.

My new neighbours have been nothing less than friendly and welcoming, and I am grateful for this. Although we are unlikely to drop by each others' apartments unannounced, it is good to have a community of neighbours who will look out for each other and do our best to keep our area clean, safe and comfortable.

The MNS Selangor Branch AGM took place in early July, and I was voted in as a committee member for the 9th year running. We have a new committee member who is also the founder and coordinator of a hiking and trekking group, Premkumar, and I found his company quite delightful. I'm glad we will be seeing more of each other during subsequent meetings and activities.

2. Help a stranger.

In May and June, I noticed a lady, most likely of a foreign nationality, begging for change from cars at the traffic light junction on my way to work. I know most beggars belong to a syndicate, so I did not give her cash. However, she always looked wretchedly hungry and miserable begging in the scorching midmorning heat, so I started to pack her breakfasts every morning, usually consisting of one beverage, two carbs (buns and muffins) and a fruit. She would accept the food gratefully and twice I saw her run into the bushes to eat hurriedly, as if afraid of getting caught eating on the 'job'. I tried speaking to her in Malay and Burmese but she would just smile, thank me for the food and go away, with fear in her eyes. I hoped to be able to reach out to her and find her assistance if she were a victim of trafficking or abuse, but by the end of June, she no longer made her appearance at the traffic lights. I know the pickings are slim -- hardly anyone gave her any cash. I wish I had a way of helping her and others like her, and I hope my packed breakfasts provided her with some comfort and freedom from hunger and thirst. I hope that she will be safe from harm wherever she may be.

In early June, prior to Shadow's diagnosis, my friend Katie McDonald came over to stay. It was the same week as the Mount Kinabalu earthquake and landslide which left many dead and many mountain porters without a means of economic survival. I attended the memorial service at Dataran MBPJ with Katie and made a sizable cash donation which would be distributed to the families of the porters. I know there are more efforts to keep these funds sustainable and help the porters find alternative employment, but soon I was so besieged with vet bills and worries about Shadow that it became impossible for me to contribute cash on a regular basis.

July saw me mostly continuing to volunteer with the SPCA, MNS, Homeless Hairwash, Beacon of Hope / The Revolving Library and my usual projects. As it was Ramadhan, I agreed to teach at the Beacon of Hope twice a week to replace the usual volunteer teachers who needed to break fast and attend terawih prayers with their families. It was exhausting, made all the harder because it was in between Shadow's feeds, but it was necessary. We could not let the children down. I have to admit that I am relieved Ramadhan is over and I am back to teaching only once a week after work.


After Shadow's passing, I assisted Aravind in picking up two of his rescue cats, Horlicks and Abby, from the vet. There was no way we could release these two, so Horlicks is currently being fostered by Aravind, while I am caring for Abby until she can be spayed and rehomed. She is a delightful little girl and a gifted climber. I have had her dewormed, Frontlined and vaccinated against the standard 'triple threat' and against Feline Leukaemia Virus, and monitored her closely following vaccination. Thankfully, she recovered well following vaccination and she is now a happy and rambunctious member of the Wee Green Flat family.

Tennessee the Cat

Two young females for spaying.

The final week of July saw me assisting my former colleagues at the UNHCR in trapping the stray cats in the area for neutering. Everyone wanted the cats neutered, but nobody did anything except complain and hem and haw for an eternity. Karen, Ju Li and I finally decided to take matters into our own hands and we went over late one night with carriers to lure and catch the cats. We managed to trap 3 cats, which is pretty good for one night, and as I had already made prior arrangements with the SPCA, it wasn't difficult for me to bring them over for overnight boarding and neutering.

Going to the SPCA with Karen, Ju Li and 3 cats in tow was a bit of an adventure in itself. After settling the cats into their cages in Klinik Kembiri, I discovered that I was ravenously hungry and I persuaded the ladies to have supper with me at Studio 5 up the road. Across the street, we saw a shirtless elderly homeless man sleeping on the pavement outside 7-Eleven. I grabbed one of the Homeless Care Packs I kept in the car (containing unopened bottles of drinking water I receive at events, buns with a long shelf life, and cans of unsweetened fruit juice) and we walked over to hand the gentleman the bag. Karen and Ju Li decided to get him a hot meal and so we did. He was groaning and grunting and trying to sleep when we gently addressed him, asked if he had eaten and served the food to him. He broke into the most beautiful smile we have ever seen and asked us our names. We talked to him as he ate and then bade him goodnight so we could hurry to our own supper. We reached home after midnight but were glad we took the time to get him a hot meal and keep him company while he ate.

3. Eat something/at someplace new to me.

Our company AGM at the Sunway Convention Centre in early June left me the only one without lunch as no one had catered for vegetarians, and so I walked over to the new food court, Taste Enclave, and had an Indian vegetarian meal by myself. The food was tasty, although a little heavy on sodium.

I had heard good things about BMS Organics Bamboo Charcoal Burger but never had the opportunity to sample it until June. I had the set meal, which was delicious, but have to admit that the salad and not the burger was the best part of the meal for me.

My best friend Nicole took me out to dinner in Bulgogi House in my neighborhood, and I had one of the most satisfying Korean vegetarian meals in my life. Trust Nic to know my neighbourhood better than I do!

My parents came to visit the Wee Green Flat for the first time during the Aidilfitri break, and I enjoyed having them visit tremendously. It was quite a relaxing visit, apart from the fact that Covert Mum developed an allergic reaction to my cats after petting them, and sneezed through most of the drive home. We had lunch at a Balinese restaurant I had just discovered in my new neighbourhood, Uma Restaurant, and found the food to be authentic, delicious and reasonably priced.

The weekend after payday, Karen cajoled me into going to dinner at DÍtaliane Cafe in Sunway Giza with her. I agreed as it was new to me, and we shared a pizza and had Belgian waffles for dessert. The meal was expensive and I am not likely to visit regularly. Considering the fact that I have just bought an apartment, this is the kind of restaurant visit I would reserve only for special occasions such as birthdays.

I am now living closer to a number of high-end supermarkets and independent grocers, and so in July I had the opportunity to sample new fruits and vegetables, including edible flowers...

 ... which I used in a bento and in ice cubes...

... and donut peaches and champagne grapes. I have a little tradition of bringing home little gifts of food for my parents every weekend when I return to the parental home, and this means that I often also have the chance to sample the things I bring home to my parents.

In late July, I purchased 5 tickets to a fundraising dinner for Nepal's earthquake victims at the Buddhist Maha Vihara, and invited 4 of my closest friends -- Nicole, Aravind, Karen and Shamini. We had a lovely dinner of vegetarian Sinhalese food which was new to all of us. In variety, cooking methods and flavour, Sinhalese food is rather similar to authentic Malay food and South Indian food, only they use more coconut and spices, especially cinammon and cardamom. We could not stop eating even after we were full to the brim, and to top it all off, there were 2 different puddings for dessert. We had a good meal and were entertained by young performers from the Vihara and raised funds for a good cause, so I'd say it was a good night.

In July, I accepted a new volunteer role as a food reviewer for, and my first  assignment was to review Medifoods, an organic lifestyle cafe in Subang Jaya. I dragged Karen along and she was only too happy to come and have a free meal with me and explore new vegetarian restaurants and foods, and we were more than satisfied with our first visit to this cafe and enthusiastic about reviewing it.

4. Go someplace I've never been.

I didn't have the opportunity to explore much more than my immediate new neighbourhood in June, as Shadow's illness and care took precedence over everything else. Still, I managed to learn my way around the new area and even found a place I can skate safely at night as there is very little traffic.

I stopped by the newly reopened Atria Shopping Gallery in Damansara Jaya while on my way back from the vet. I didn't find it exceptional or worth frequent visits as there is nothing to set it apart from the dozens of shopping malls in Petaling Jaya, and I rather miss the dingy little neighbourhood mall it had once been, with its secondhand bookstores, toy shop and charity bins.

In mid-July I attended the Kasih Caregiver Workshop at the Kasih Foundation office, a place new to me in an older part of Petaling Jaya.

5. Do something that scares me (New category)

At the Kasih Caregiver Workshop, a day-long workshop for hospice volunteers and those caring for the ill and bedridden, I discussed death and end-of-life care with the caring hospice doctors and staff and faced the fear of my loved ones dying.

6. Learn something new.

Both months saw me putting into practice home improvement skills I had hitherto only mastered in theory. On my own, I repainted walls, repaired water damaged walls and plaster skim, replaced the showerheads, light fixtures and washing machine hose, and repaired preloved furniture.

At the Kasih Hospice Care Society Caregiver Workshop which I signed up for with Aravind, we learned how to provide for the physical and psychological needs of the critically ill and bedridden. We were given practical lessons on how to move patients from a bed to a wheelchair and into a standard-sized car, how to give baths to and change the diapers of a bedridden individual, and how to feed, comfort and ensure the safety and well-being of the terminally ill. It opened up my eyes to many things I would not have otherwise been aware of and helped me view terminal illness in a different (less fearful and more empathetic and compassionate) light.

7. Declutter and cull 100 items.

One wouldn't have thought that I would have anything left to declutter after conducting a major spring cleaning in my previous rented home prior to moving house, but when my friend Nick Jukes invited his Facebook friends to participate in the 30-Day Minimalism Challenge, I was game for it and did surprisingly well, decluttering not only the Wee Green Flat but also the parental home. Decluttering 465 items in a month is quite a heroic effort in itself and I think it deserves its own blogpost.

8. Give up something for a month.

Shortly after moving in to my new place in June, I made a pledge to give up Red Bull for a month, since I am now no longer living with my incredibly messy and dirty housemates and would not need to stay up cleaning for hours each night. This lasted for about 2 weeks, and then Shadow fell critically ill and I spent most of my nights feeding him every hour and cleaning up after him to reduce the risk of infection to the other cats. The exhaustion was more than I could bear and soon I was knocking back a can of Red Bull a day, especially in order to keep awake while driving or at work. I will continue to work on reducing my dependence of caffeine and energy drinks. I know that falling off the wagon because of exceptionally stressful circumstances doesn't mean falling off the wagon for good.

In July, I gave up going to bed without doing these five basic things:
 i. Cleaning the cats' litter trays;
ii. Giving the cats their wet food and medicines/supplements;
 iii. Washing up everything that is in the sink and giving the kitchen counters and most frequently-used furniture a quick wipe-down;
iv. Packing lunch for the next day; and
v. Getting my workclothes, lunch and vitamins ready the night before.

I realise that if I fail to do these and go to bed first, I will always end up late for work the following morning, despite my resolve to wake up early to get these things done. Each task takes only minutes to complete and makes my mornings run so much more smoothly and allows me to go to bed and leave for work with peace of mind.

  9. Letter to the Editor

So many things happening and so many bittersweet memories in just two months.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Farewell, Sweet Shadow.

The world is an arbitrary place, and bad things happen to good kitties.

Shadow was, and still is, a very special cat.

He was born in a large cage in the porch of the Bachelor Pad in April 2008. His heavily pregnant mother, Keisha, was rescued from the dustbin of the Shah Alam High Court canteen and he was born 2 days later along with 4 of his siblings. 3 of them were adopted, and Keisha was herself adopted after spaying. Shadow and Mini-Me failed to be adopted and thus they came to be my permanent children and part of my gang of Rowdies.

Shadow was a quiet, thoughtful, sweet and loving boy. He was very protective over his sister, Mini-Me. When all of the Rowdies had to be given a medicated bath and I left Mini-Me in a locked cat carrier to soak, Shadow tried to set her free because he couldn't bear to see her upset. When his other non-biological sister Daisy accidentally got shut in my wardrobe, he scratched at the door and meowed until I returned to set her free. When Pix had displaced aggression issues and beat Shadow up, Shadow ran to me for help even though he was well capable of roughing one-eyed Pix up. Shadow was a lover, not a fighter. He loved to cuddle and would sit on my lap for hours while I worked at my laptop. He would rub his cheek against mine when he perceived that I was sad. He would come to rub his face all over my hands and ankles to thank me after a nice meal of roast chicken or Fancy Feast Royale. Shadow makes being a mama so easy and such a joy.

When we first moved to the Wee Green Flat, Pix's displaced aggression issues seemed to go away (perhaps thanks to Feliway pheromone spray, perhaps because they all arrived at the same time and thus the hierarchies in play at the old Bachelor Pad disintegrated) and Pix and Shadow got along just fine. They ate together and sat on the window seat and furniture together. I was happy beyond words and could not stop taking pictures of them together. Shadow was happy and confident and relaxed. He would climb up onto my lap at every opportunity. My children were happy in our clean, spacious new home with all the places to sit and climb and hide and play.

Within a week, though, I noticed puddles of feline vomit each time I came home from work. I didn't know who the culprit was, and cleaned everything up dutifully. All the cats seemed healthy and fine and so I attributed it to a change of environment or food.

Another week passed and I noticed that my poor Shadow was losing weight. I rushed home from work the next afternoon and took him to the vet to run all the necessary tests. I was afraid that he was having problems with his stomach or kidneys.

The reality was worse. The ELISA test showed that Shadow was FELV-positive. My world came crashing down. Why? How? Why? All the cats are neutered and vaccinated and kept indoors. No rescue or foster cat is introduced until all have been screened for common illnesses and FELV/FIV, dewormed, Frontlined and vaccinated. The clothes I wear while helping out at the SPCA animal shelter go straight into the laundry hamper. I keep a spotless house. How on earth could my sweet, gentle Shadow have contracted FELV without ever leaving the house or coming in contact with any outdoor cats?

I was shattered, but we have to be practical. I put him on the RetroMAD1 clinical trials immediately and started him on a cocktail of immune-boosting drugs. The good doctor speculated that Shadow was probably infected weeks ago, long before we moved to the Wee Green Flat, and the symptoms only started to show when his illness became chronic. There is a good chance that all the other cats have been exposed to the virus, and if any began to show symptoms, I must take them to the vet and put them on treatment immediately. Dr. Tan took a blood sample from Shadow for testing in the event of a false positive on the ELISA snap test.

My dream life in the Wee Green Flat with my cats quickly spiralled into a nightmare. Shadow refused all food and became withdrawn. I isolated him in a large cage in my bedroom and closed the door and started a daily regimen of force-feeding him medicine and pureed food, and cleaning and disinfecting the rest of the house to prevent the other cats from getting infected. My heart was broken over and over again each day at having to confine my beloved Shadow and stop him from being with his siblings.

I don't know what I could have done, in retrospect, to prevent Shadow from succumbing to the deadly disease that afflicted him. He was diagnosed as being FELV-positive, so there would not be many vets who would be willing to board him and put him on IV drips. In the event that he was put on IV drips, how long should I let him remain on drips? If he continues to refuse food, do I continue to keep him on drips until the end of his natural life? What sort of quality of life would he have?  

To stop the vomiting, I put him on anti-nausea tablets and to try to stimulate appetite, I got the vet to give him Vitamin B Complex jabs. To protect his liver from fatty liver disease, I crushed milk thistle and dandelion supplements and added them to his feed.  

Kind friends rallied around me. Nicole made buffalo stew (buffaloes are not factory farmed or injected with antibiotics the way livestock is) for Shadow, which I blended and pureed and fed to Shadow using a syringe. Karen came over with steamed fish for Shadow and the other rowdies. Aravind helped out with the vet bills. Still, Shadow failed to improve. By now I was driving home every lunch hour to syringe-feed him. I stopped all after-work activities (except for teaching at Beacon, which I agreed to do twice a week for all of Ramadhan as the other volunteer teachers would have to break fast and attend terawih prayers with their families) and all home improvement projects were put on hold until Shadow showed signs of improvement.  

The full blood test report brought strange news. Apparently Shadow was not FELV-positive (a significant percentage of ELISA tests register a false positive), but the lab technicians and vets were unable to tell what exactly was ailing him without a second blood test, which they could only perform in another 30 days. That gave me some hope that Shadow might recover and not have to be isolated from the others again, but it was a very small hope since he was still so ill and weak. Until they found out what mystery virus was attacking him, I had to keep him isolated and his living quarters and food and water bowls disinfected in between use. My focus was only on getting him to eat and regain some strength.   

Sadly, Shadow never did improve. I had a premonition of his death on the evening before he died. When I changed my Facebook profile picture to one of Shadow, Aravind had posted the link to the Beatles' pensive hit, 'Blackbird', in the comments. We prayed fervently for Shadow to 'take these broken wings and learn to fly', to be healed and well again. 

Hours before Shadow died, I went to the vet to get him more supplements and wet food. Then I stopped by the supermarket for groceries. The song 'Blackbird' began to play over the supermarket PA system, sweet and clear. I didn't want it to be a sign that Shadow was leaving us. I wanted it to be a mere silly coincidence. I drove home in a fog of tears. 

Shadow was still alive, but incredibly weak. I held him and told him how much I love him and reminded him of the good times we had in the 7 years he was my son. I recalled the birthday parties and Christmasses and Lunar New Year feasts of Fancy Feast and roast chicken. The time I set up the new scratching post and put up the window ledges for them to sit on. The hours cuddling in bed when I got to sleep in on weekends. The treasure hunts I did using Greenies and dehydrated salmon cubes. I reminded him of all the good things he has done in his short life. I reassured him that I would set up a Shadow Memorial Fund to help other animals with medical vulnerabilities. I told him I would never stop being his mama, I would never stop loving him, and I would remember him forever even in lifetimes to come. I then gave him his final feed, which doesn't seem strange or irrational if you have ever been a mama. You don't want them to go on an empty stomach.  

At 3 a.m. on 10th July 2015, Shadow slipped away peacefully, in my arms.  

The loss of Shadow hit me hard. Why us? Why Shadow? Why was he taken from me so soon? Outwardly, I seemed to function normally. I cleaned and put away his things. I took Shadow's body to the vet for cremation. I took care of the flat and the other cats. I went to work and attended a meeting the very next day. I went to the SPCA and helped other animals the same weekend. I took my friends out to a charity fundraiser dinner. But inside, I couldn't believe that life could go on without Shadow. I felt wretched when I woke up in the mornings and there was no Shadow to feed and medicate. No Shadow quietly sitting in his cage in my room when I came home from work. No container of Shadow's medicines and syringes on the kitchen counter. No food that needed to be pureed and blended and syringe-fed to Shadow. I stopped sleeping, and instead, I filled up my nights with all the home improvement work I put on hold when Shadow fell sick. Things came to a head on the Monday after his death when in the process of stripping a water-damaged wall in my bedroom, I punched a hole in the wall and injured my knuckles. The pain was cathartic, and I started to calm down and was better able to express my grief to myself after that. I called up my best friend Nicole and cried over the phone. I told her truthfully that I got Shadow's ashes back from the pet cremation service, but I don't want ashes, I just want my Shadow back. She talked me through my pain and grief and we talked about when she lost her little Poodley to serious and prolonged illness two years ago. Yes, life has to go on, but I can miss Shadow and carry on functioning and caring for the other cats at the same time. I miss Shadow and the time we spent together. I even missed caring for him when he was sick, even though I would much prefer him to be well and healthy. Caring for him and syringe-feeding him was not a burden or an inconvenience. It brought us closer together. At least I still got to hold him. He is my son. He will always be my son.

I don't think I will ever stop missing or loving Shadow. Time doesn't heal all wounds, but it can make the pain duller. Take your broken wings and learn to fly, brave and beautiful Shadow. I will come look for you at the Rainbow Bridge when it is my time to cross over.  


Friday, 3 July 2015

Press Release on the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, issued on behalf of SPCA Selangor

(Drafted and sent to the SPCA committee for their onward transmission to local newspapers yesterday.)  



SPCA Selangor joins the many rational and concerned voices worldwide in denouncing the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China.

As fellow Asians, we object strongly to the assertion that consuming dog meat is an “Asian tradition.” It is a local, regional practice not born out of necessity, as it is not the impoverished who traditionally consume dog meat, but the wealthy who believe that consuming dog meat confers certain health benefits.  There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Conversely, research shows that sourcing, farming, transporting, slaughtering and consuming dog meat can contribute and has contributed to the spread of rabies, cholera and trichinellosis. Also, it is widely reported that the said dog meat eating festival only began in the 1990s and is thus not part of a long-standing regional cultural practice. Even if it were, it is averred that traditions must change and societies must evolve, especially when particular traditions involve cruelty. Societies all over the world are phasing out blood sports, factory farming, canned hunting, animal testing, the consumption of wildlife products and shark fin, and the production of veal and foie gras, as they understand that such practices are inhumane and becoming increasingly unpopular.

The practice of dog meat consumption in China and other Asian countries is also associated with the theft and kidnapping of dogs kept as companion animals. The kidnapping of companion dogs have no doubt caused great distress to their guardians and has become a source of conflict between dog meat consumers and animal lovers. The practice of consuming dog meat evokes strong adverse emotions because of the strong bond between dogs and humans. Dogs have evolved to live alongside humans and serve us as protectors, assistants, friends and family members. Surely man’s best friend deserves better treatment? Photographs of the festival show dogs being brutally tortured before slaughter, further reinforcing the assertion that there is gratuitous cruelty and violence involved in this grisly ‘festival’.

There are many, many sustainable food choices in China and eating dog meat is unnecessary, unhealthy and cruel. We believe the Chinese government and Yulin local authorities are capable of putting a stop to the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and ending the consumption of dog meat in China. Change is coming to China, especially from the younger generation who see dogs as companions, not food. Dog meat consumption is no longer common in cities such as Beijing, and in 2011, the Jinhua Hutou Dog Meat Festival was called off and finally banned following massive protests. We therefore urge the government of the People’s Republic of China to do the right thing and put an end to this festival and to dog meat consumption.

SPCA Selangor further urges Malaysians and members of the global community to play their part by:
(i)              Keeping their companion animals indoors and protecting them from harm;
(ii)            Spaying and neutering dogs, cats and other animal populations in order that no-one can use the excuse of population reduction to cull these animals;
(iii)          Avoiding businesses that sell wildlife products or serve exotic meat, including dogs, wildlife, foie gras and other animal products obtained through cruel means, and to report the sale of wildlife products to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) or the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) Wildlife Crime Hotline;
(iv)          Avoiding tourist attractions that involve cruelty to animals, for example, blood sports, bullfighting, visits to tiger and bear farms, circuses involving animal performers and dog meat festivals. We vote with our money every day and can end these practices by ending consumer demand;
(v)            Using the Yulin Dog Meat Eating Festival as a starting point to reflect on our own meat consumption patterns. Vegetarianism and veganism are growing worldwide for animal rights, welfare, health and environmental reasons. We can lobby for laws to protect the health, safety and well-being of farm animals, and patronise businesses that are humane and are developing better farming and animal husbandry practices, even if one is at present unable to give up meat entirely.

The international community is working to reduce meat consumption and the abuse and exploitation of animals, and SPCA Selangor unites with them in calling for a ban on the consumption of dog meat and ending cruelty to animals.

1 July 2015

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

A Moment In Time

The past 4 weeks have been a roller-coaster ride. So many hopes, so much happiness (although short-lived), so much heartbreak. More about that later. 

A week after I moved into the Wee Green Flat with my Rowdies, my old friend Katie returned to Malaysia on a 2-week work visit, and of course I offered her a place to stay, even though the Flat was still a work-in-progress. The guest room and guest bathroom were ready for use, however, and Katie was cheerful and accommodating as ever. 

I took her out to eat really good vegetarian food, at Raku-Raku and Vegelife. Katie plans to propose to this mango pudding the next time she visits and patronises Raku-Raku again. 

And the curry rice at Vegelife was rated the best vegan curry Katie has ever tasted. 

As is my new tradition when friends from out of town visit KL, I took Katie to the KL Heli Lounge for excellent views of the city. The drinks were good. Just stay away from the overpriced, insipid and uninspiring food. 

On Thursday, we attended the memorial service for the victims of the Mount Kinabalu Earthquake at the MBPJ Square. We wanted to do Homeless Hairwash after the memorial service but it started to rain, and the hairwash had to be called off. 

As agreed, we went to the SPCA on Saturday. Our friend Mazrul joined us and we bathed and tickwashed the shelter dogs. I had procured a bar of Taharah soap for Mazrul so he could perform ritual cleansing after helping out with the dogs. At the time these photos were taken (13th June), the SPCA was still operating out of the rented bungalow on the hill, and the new eco-shelter was in its final stages of completion. 
We walked around the new shelter, trying to remember what had been located where the new kennels, therapy pond, benches and adoption areas now stand. I wanted to capture these images because the shelter will never look this way again. 

A month ago, when we were helping them plant grass in the water-permeable paved yard, the shelter was still under construction and the buildings were just empty shells in various stages of completion. Paint, cement, wheelbarrows and cables lay in small piles under each structure as the workers tried to complete the shelter before the deadline. 

And now right before the staff and animals are to move back into their upgraded and updated shelter, everything looks so clean and new and shiny and different. It can never look this way again. 

Rows of kennels, facing each other, just waiting for their new inhabitants to move in. 

 I like it that sections of plumbing pipes are used to protect the taps from the boisterous gnawing of bored dogs. I hope the dogs receive lots of toys and environmental enrichment instead. They don't gnaw because they are destructive, they do it because they need mental stimulation. 

I love it that they have preserved the old rain trees and erected seats around the trees. I think this is where Kennels A and B used to be. 

The reception area, with a charming mural of a tree. 

Star-shaped plaques with the names of donors and the feline and canine children the donors wish to honour and immortalise. We found this to be touching and tasteful. 

Katie and I spent one week together but never had a photo taken together, so I got Mazrul to capture this little moment in time. 

This photo was taken last weekend and is a collage of the murals painted on our shelter office walls by a talented team of artists, including Suzi Chua and Felicia. Aren't these adorable?

 It's these little things that we will look back on, in years to come, and say to ourselves: "Look at us then! Look at us now! Look at the SPCA then! See how far we've come! Look how much we've all accomplished!"  

Little things, immortalised in grainy photographs.