Monday, 29 February 2016

Mon 29th Feb: The Chung Hom Kok collie

Some of you may remember one of the "breeds" I invented, the Chung Hom Kok collies, very distinctive and beautiful dogs that came from the same family group who were loosely owned by a man living near Stanley.  Over the years he surrendered many puppies to AFCD while countless attempts to encourage him to have the dogs desexed failed, until finally one woman got him to agree. She was the one who took the dogs to a vet clinic to be spayed and neutered, and that ended the reproduction cycle and the supply of this majestic "breed".

The Chung Hom Kok collie is so distinctive that when I took a dog out of AFCD today I immediately recognised it as being one, and knowing that the line had ended when the last dogs were desexed I was curious to know where it had come from.  All I was told was that the dog had been adopted as a puppy from HKDR,  and I knew that he had been passed to AFCD by the SPCA, as is standard in all cases of microchipped animals.  AFCD had been unable to contact the registered  owner, so eventually the dog was released for re-homing.

The wonderful thing about microchips is that they stay in the body for ever as identification, so even if the dog is deliberately abandoned there is a way of tracing the registered owner.  That could be done via the Hong Kong ID card even if the address and telephone number have changed, although AFCD don't go that far unfortunately.  In this case however, I still have all the email correspondence with the adopter from 2012 when Big, the dog's name, was taken home as a puppy, so I was able to send a message by late afternoon, asking if Big had been lost or surrendered/abandoned.  So far I haven't received a reply, and since the poor dog has been sitting at AFCD for some time I can only assume the latter is true.

Chung Hom Kok collies are, I think, a cross between a collie and golden retriever, and they are as lovely in nature as they are beautiful. (The photo shows Marley, from the same bloodline). Big is no exception, and at three years of age he still looks like a young boy and is as friendly as it is possible for any dog to be.  He loves everyone and wanted to play with all of the dogs that came into Acorn while I was waiting to see the vet.

In fact Big didn't need to see a vet in the end as he had been a patient at Acorn so all of his records are there, and I know that his license was only renewed last October. (I should add that I wasn't given any private information by the clinic due to privacy laws, but I already had the microchip number which was all I needed).  It seems strange that a family would abandon a dog so soon after having all vaccinations updated, so while part of me is hoping that he is only lost, I have to wonder why all attempts to contact the now ex-owner (by AFCD and Acorn) have failed, including my own email.

So now Big is at our Tai Po Homing Centre and available for adoption, and all I can say is whoever takes this gorgeous boy home will not only automatically join the very exclusive group of Chung Hom Kok collie owners, but will also have a fantastic family member.  If you are interested and we don't already have your details, please contact me as soon as possible.

I also took a lovely poodle boy, now called Curly, from AFCD and it was very sweet and funny watching the two dogs together as I took a taxi to Sai Ying Pin from Pokfulam.  Curly, being an entire (not desexed) male was doing his best to mate with Big while making no impression whatsoever.  I know for sure that Big is good with any size of dog, and I assume with cats too.

Curly (pictured getting his health check by Dr Hazel at Acorn) joins our growing poodle collection at Ap Lei Chau, so please come and meet them all if you have space in your home for a lively and smart little dog.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Sun 28th Feb: What a difference the sun makes!

After such cold weather and a biting wind on the Whiskers N Paws terrace last week, it was wonderful to be back today in the sunshine.  It wasn't only the humans that were grateful, as puppies that had previously huddled together to keep warm were running around having the best time, and without being encumbered by the coats they had needed to wear.

It was a lucky day for quite a few, including three siblings from a litter of four that I took from AFCD when they were just two weeks old.  Now there is just one black girl left, although luckily she is in a lovely foster home so still lucky in a way.  In fact the pair that were adopted together were given a forever home by their foster, the bond having being created from very early in life.  Simba and Nala are fortunate pups indeed.

Others that were adopted, taken on trial or offered a foster home were Hazel, Tiffin (the first of my Lamma litter of five to come out of her shell), Tickle, Creamy, Donna and Charity.  There are plenty more that are still waiting, and you can meet several of them at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre during the week, or at Whiskers N Paws where Sophie and Babette are staying in their luxury puppy "hotel".  If you are at the store be sure to say hello to the pups, and maybe you will fall in love and add one of them (or both) to your shopping cart.

Over at Tai Po there was very happy news about Beth, who had her adoption confirmed after a short trial to see that she got along with the resident dog.  Yes she does, and in fact they are already firm friends.

Ruby, who had been adopted as a baby and then returned when she was almost a year old, was also given her second chance as her adoption was confirmed.  Her new "brother" was also adopted from HKDR as Otis, although he is now Biscuit, and the pair play happily all day long.

We said goodbye to our van driver Hing, or rather he said goodbye to us after saying he was too old to continue in full time work, so along with our new van (yes, we have been donated the funds to buy which is brilliant) we will have a new driver.  I don't know how long it will take to get the van on the road and if we will have our old one available in the meantime, but I can't wait to be able to get around with the dogs again.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Sat 27th Feb: Promises made, promises broken

I'm looking out of the window as I type this entry, and see exactly what I hope for every Sunday; a calm and flat sea with the sun already breaking through. So there can be no reasons or excuses for a lack of visitors to Whiskers N Paws, and maybe this week will be a lucky one for several puppies. After my absence, when others had to take on all of the paperwork as well as many puppies going to foster homes (and thank you again for helping when it was so urgently needed), I have finally got the files sorted out and under control again.  It's been quite a challenge and I'm still not able to recognise many of the puppies themselves, but I'm getting there.

Unfortunately not all adoptions end up as being for ever, no matter what was promised, and while some dogs or puppies come back to us very quickly, for others it can be much longer.  Sometimes there's an understandable reason such as serious (human) illness, but usually it's nothing more than a lack of patience, commitment or forethought.  Taking a dog or puppy home without seriously considering the implications happens too often, which is why there are so many dogs that are abandoned, or who end up being killed at AFCD.  I see ex-pets in their "Death Row" kennels still wearing their wearing collars and who are so traumatised that they are labelled as unsuitable for re-homing, and their fate sealed.  The tragedy is that it's the dogs that are so loyal and attached to their owners that they appear to be aggressive (to strangers) who end up paying the ultimate price.  I know that my dog Griffin, for example, would be one of those.  Apart from the fact that he is so devoted to me, he also has facial expressions that look as though he's baring his teeth but he's actually playing.  I know that and the other dogs know it too, but an outsider would see the opposite.  In fact that's why he was returned from his adopted home when he was a doglet, and I know better than to even try again.

We ask would-be adopters if they promise to give the dog a month to settle (before making any judgements on behaviour), and everyone ticks the "Yes" box, even those who bring the dog back after a few days saying it's not toilet trained, friendly, or whatever other fault they have found.  Those who persevere and really allow for settling-in accidents are those who understand that dogs are not machines, rather thinking and feeling dog "beings", just as we are human "beings".  In every case I would ask that the human try to put themselves in the dog's position and to see each situation from the animal's point of view.  Are you making it clear to the dog exactly what you mean or expect from he or she, or do you simply expect it to somehow know what your house rules are?  Do you think puppies are born trained, or do you understand that they have to be taught, gently and with encouragement?  Puppies are returned for not instantly being toilet trained, or for being "naughty". Yes, they are baby dogs and that's how babies behave.

The photo shows sweet ten year-old schnauzer Polly, who came back to us after a short time and is now once again waiting for a real forever home. You can meet her at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre any day from 10am to 6pm.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Fri 26th Feb: Farewell to our sweet boy Morris

Although Saturdays aren't official adoption days, you can come to meet Walter, Riva, Mushy, and Felix from 2pm to 5pm at Tamar Park, with every Saturday having four Tai Po Specials conveniently located in Central. There are two circular enclosed areas in Tamar Park for dogs to run around off leash and they are located closer to the Wan Chai Exhibition Centre, near the public washrooms. You can follow the “Pet Access Walkway”, or ask for directions to the dog park. The space is open to everyone so feel free to bring your own dogs(s) to join the fun.

With no website to showcase our dogs-in-waiting, we are very aware that we are losing opportunities for them to find homes.  If you are looking for adult dogs or puppies to adopt, you are welcome to visit either of our Homing Centres any day of the week from 10am to 6pm, or Whiskers N Paws in Horizon Plaza, 2pm to 5pm on Sundays to meet our many gorgeous puppies. 

Talking of our website, we are in urgent need of a good website designer or company who can offer to build a new HKDR website that has top security features, so we can prevent any further hacking issues.  We are willing to pay, although of course we are hoping that costs can be kept to a minimum, as our need for a new and secure website is a priority.  If you know of anyone that you can recommend to provide what we need, please let me know.  We will need to make a decision very quickly so we can get back to business as soon as possible.

I think you are all aware that HKDR is a No Kill organisation, meaning that we promise a place for life for any dog that comes to us.  That also means that from time to time we have to say goodbye to those dogs who were never lucky enough to be adopted, and there have sadly been a few who have left us recently.  Today it was sweet Morris who passed away, very soon after having been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. Blackie also recently lost her fight with lymphoma, just a matter of days after having moved to an end-of-life foster home, for which we were very grateful.  It means a lot to us to know that our much-loved dogs get to spend their last weeks in a home where they can have a soft bed of their own and all the luxuries that we can't provide.  We do our best for the terminal cases and there is no shortage of love, that's for sure, but if you are willing to offer a final hospice place for a dog to enjoy being pampered, please let Cindy know (  We hope we won't need to call on your kindness, but it would be comforting to know that when the time comes for another dog in need, we will have a home standing by. 

Thursday, 25 February 2016

24/25th Feb: Away days

I have been back in hospital for a couple of days of follow-up checks, all positive, but was unable to write any updates with no news to report, from my end at least.  Of course that doesn't mean nothing was going on elsewhere as there are always many and various jobs to be done, and thankfully staff and volunteers to do them.

Still, there is one volunteer slot that we really need to fill and very soon.  That is as Events Organiser, with this year's Gala Dinner a priority.  If you are available and have experience in this field, please email me at  The gala event will take place in September and we will need a commitment to being available, and in Hong Kong, on the day itself as well as the very busy and important run-up weeks.

The other very important issue right now is the purchase of a new HKDR van, the current one having become so unreliable that it is constantly being repaired.  A van is vital to our operation, so we are asking for contributions from supporters to allow us to buy a new one.  We have identified the Toyota Hiace as being the most suitable, but it comes with a price tag of around $310,000 unless we are able to negotiate a discount (having had no luck so far).   If you or your company are willing to sponsor all or a large part of the cost, you can have your name on the side of the van just as the sponsor of our current van did.  Again you can email me for details.

I have been catching up this morning so this post is short, but come back tomorrow for dog-related news.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Mon 22nd Feb: Puppy Sundays

I'm not sure if this link will work but I wanted to share the lovely photos of our available puppies, all of whom you can meet at Whiskers N Paws every Sunday from 2pm to 5pm.  Our website is down at the moment so there are no dog photos or profiles available to see other than on our HKDR Facebook page, but in any case we don't include puppies as they grow and change so fast.  With luck they are also adopted before there is time to sort the photos out and post them, but this year so far has been a difficult and slow one.

Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) added 76 new photos to the album Puppy Adoption Day 21 February 2016 — atWhiskers N Paws.
Published by Semirah Darwin12 hrs
All photos by Chantal Brands of Capture Life by Chantal at Whiskers N Paws.

I spent today getting two of my Lamma dogs to Acorn for dental treatment, one of them being my 14 year-old little dog Murphy, and the other another long-term senior called Ginny.  Murphy has been and always will be mine, in the sense that he chose me the minute we met at AFCD, while Ginny is a very sweet and easy girl who should have been adopted a long time ago.  So many of my now-old Lamma dogs are lovely, gentle characters, and I am surprised at how calmly they accept the trip to the vet having not seen a car or busy streets for pretty much their whole life.  Without a van I had to walk along Second Street in Sai Ying Pun to find a taxi, and both dogs trailed behind me as though this was something they did every day.

As happy as I was about that, I was also pleased to find out that Murphy is very fit for his age, with everything checking out fine in his pre-anaesthetic blood test and only three teeth needing to be extracted.  Ginny, on the other hand, had many that needed removing although she is also fine in all other respects.

Now that so many of my early HKDR dogs are reaching their senior years the need for veterinary attention becomes increasingly necessary, and the value of the Life Saver Club sponsorship ever more apparent.  Other older Lamma dogs such as Cindy and  Hilton have required surgery for cancer, while Jeremy is another recent casualty with a detached retina and early signs of kidney failure and little Sandy hangs on life with stubborn determination.

If you can help with contributing towards the cost of giving these older dogs, both on Lamma and our two Homing Centres, the care that they need you can do this through sponsoring via our Life Saver Club volunteer Shaline at  Thank you.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sun 21st Feb: Colder than Siberia?

It was so cold on the terrace at Whiskers N Paws today, and those who had ventured out without appropriate clothing (shorts and T-shirt) must have quickly regretted that optimistic decision.  Personally I wanted to pack up and go home by about 3pm, but along with the other frozen volunteers we stuck it out until the indeed-bitter end.  There were puppies to be homed, and returned baby foster pups that had nowhere new to move to.  In the end they had to come back to Lamma, and that meant sleeping outside, with shelter of course, but still a huge change for such little ones who had been cared for since I took them from AFCD at less than three weeks of age.  The two puppies at the front of the photo, taken last week, are urgently in need of a new foster home.

They were joined on Lamma by a new puppy girl who was one of three gorgeous sisters,  her two siblings having been taken for fostering.  No amount of begging and pleading managed to persuade any one of the few visitors remaining at the end of the afternoon to foster the pair of returnees or the leftover sister, so now I need to ask if anyone else can.  I have to go back to hospital this week for follow-up checks, and while it's only for two nights I can't leave these puppies outside.

By the time five o'clock came round there had been no adoptions at all, only puppies being taken for fostering (some with a view to adoption), while several puppies had been returned from their temporary holiday homes.  It is very had when this happens and we end up with more little bodies than we started with, but I can't blame those who chose to stay at home rather that face the freezing cold wind.

Being indoors the Pet Show was much busier, and thanks to everyone who helped out or even just dropped by to say hello.  The event has now finished so if you want to buy any of our great merchandise you will have to visit our Homing Centres.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Sat 20th Feb: Getting to grips with the new Blog

I'm working my way round this new blog site trying to find out how I can share posts on Facebook. I'll get there eventually, despite my very limited internet/computer knowledge.

My main concern is the lack of a website where the dogs can be showcased, and our broken down van.  We have identified the make and model of the one we want to buy to replace the current one that is languishing in the repair shop, so now all we need to do is to raise the money to buy, just over $300,000.  We're working on that.

There have been quite a few unexpected newcomers to our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre, including a couple of poodles and a very sweet Yorkie girl who was my latest rescue from AFCD.  I saw Tipsy by chance and asked to be able to take her out immediately because I could clearly see the mammary mass on her underside.  It's impossible to know her age because she had no microchip or license, as well as having no teeth.  She could have lost them early due to eating only soft food or she could be very old, but she has bright eyes that can see well and a spring to her step, so we guess she's ten to twelve years.  She'll have the mammary tumours removed of course, but she's available for adoption or fostering at any time.  She's a happy and friendly little dog, with a zest for life whatever her age is.

While a group of volunteers were once again manning our stand at the Pet Show (which will continue until 8pm on Sunday) and others were at the Tamar Waterfront Park with some of our Tai Po dogs,  I was getting ready for Sunday's puppy afternoon at Whiskers N Paws and keeping my fingers crossed for good weather.  A question I'm asked every week is what happens to those puppies that don't get adopted, and the answer is that they stay with us at HKDR, or more precisely with me on Lamma. That is why I'm so keen, bordering on desperate, to find all of the puppies good homes.

Please come along to meet our gorgeous candidates.  They need a home and I need them to find one.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Fri 19th Feb: Part 2

As so often happens, one particular dog had a sudden rush of adoption applicants all on the same day, and this time it was a young golden retriever.  In fact this was a second time around for Holden as we had been expecting him to come to us much sooner, but after having posted his details and received a lot of enquiries his then-owner put everything on hold.  That meant that when the dog actually arrived at our Tai Po Homing Centre all would-be adopters had drifted off and instead of being an in-and-out case Holden had to wait until today to go to his new home, just as I received two other nice offers.  Holden has settled right in with the lucky family who came to Tai Po to meet him, and he now goes by the name of Apple Grover.

There was another very happy and timely adoption today as sweet Katie found her forever family, just as she was about to have to leave her foster home.  Katie had a sad history even though she is still only a year old, but now that is all in the past and forgotten.

There is another dog that I really hope can follow in Holden and Katie's lucky footsteps, or paw prints, and that is Leo .  His need for a home is urgent although also difficult. In fact I could call him a special needs dog, one who has the misfortune to be burdened with a genetic issue that is all too common in cocker spaniels.  This is a breed that used to be very popular in Hong Kong but is now quite rare, due to a combination of bad breeding and a total lack of understanding that spaniels are sporting dogs and need exercise.  Sadly for them, their small size misled many uninformed puppy buyers into thinking they were easy apartment dogs when they are really not, just as the terrier breeds like the Jack Russell who are so full of energy, even as mature adults.

Leo was surrendered to AFCD as a result of a marriage breakdown with neither side wanting to keep him, and that didn't help his neediness for companionship, or his other main issue of guarding behaviour.  This often come about as a result of food deprivation during puppyhood as pet shops tell buyers to strictly ration their puppy's food, making food such a precious resource that it becomes something that needs to be guarded at all costs.  Puppies that are left alone and caged for long hours may also become toy guarders, as well as anything else they consider to be theirs, which is why we will never knowingly let a puppy go to a home where they won't have the socialisation and training that is so vital to prevent lifelong behaviour issues developing.  The character of puppies is shaped by a combination of genetics and the first few weeks or months of their life experience, so it is  essential that they have the time and attention that they need in that formative period.

Going back to Leo, he is a three year-old American cocker spaniel who admittedly comes with some baggage, but also a yearning to be loved.  He has a preference for Chinese women as they have always been his caretakers,although that doesn't mean he can't or wouldn't adjust to anyone who would give him what he wants.  His guarding behaviour can be dealt with over time, but simply avoiding provocative situations is the best and easiest way to deal with this type of issue.  By that I mean that food guarders should be fed in a separate room and not disturbed when eating, and the bowl only removed once the dog has left the room.  Toy guarders that are not given toys have nothing to watch over, and that allows as long as it takes to build up the bond to a point when training can start.  Thinking that training must begin the minute a dog steps into a new home will result in failure, guaranteed.

On the plus side, Leo wants nothing more than to have his own human by his side, and he's quite happy as long as he has that someone.  He can't be with children for obvious reasons, but in the right home where he can be given the time to feel secure he will become a loyal and devoted companion. Please email me at if you would like to give Leo a chance of happiness again.

Don't forget we will be at the Pet Show in the Wanchai Exhibition Centre all day Saturday and Sunday, so please drop by and take a look at our great products or even just to say hello.  Thanks again to our HKDR Volunteers for their enthusiastic help and support, without which we wouldn't be able to operate at all.  You are the best!

Please ignore any strange writing or spelling that may pop up. Although I am pretty much back to normal I am still finding typing a challenge, and that is my punishment for being a "grammar Nazi" before!

Fri 19th Feb: Welcome to my new blog!

This is just a test run really to find out how this site works and looks.  I'm sure tweaks and adjustments will need to be made, but it's a start.

We have a stand at the Pet Exhibition in Wanchai from today until Sunday, so please drop by to see the launch of our new-style HKDR umbrella and dog-shaped fold-up bag, both items having been top sellers in their previous incarnations. The Pet Show is taking place at the Wanchai Exhibition Centre from 19th (today) until the 21st Feb Sun).

Of course I will be back at Whiskers N Paws, my favourite - and only - Sunday haunt, with lots of lovely puppies hoping that this will be their lucky day.  Tiny Tom, who was taken for fostering last weekend, had his adoption confirmed yesterday so he won't be back again.

OK, I can see I need to learn how to place photos where and want them to go!  Lesson One.