Thursday, 31 March 2016

Thurs 31st March: Missing a few days

Frankie the pug
Since my last post unexpected events overtook any plans I might have had for the week, and it started on Tuesday when I had a packed day ahead of me.  I had to leave home early to get Safari and Fido to Acorn for surgery, as at that point we still had no driver for the new van, and rental van drivers don't provide anything but transport services (no lifting or carrying).  I had Safari on a leash because at forty kilos he is too big and heavy for anything else, and Fido in a crate, so I had to be with the dogs to get them delivered safely to the clinic.

Having dropped them off and waited for a very nervous Fido to be sedated before leaving, my next stop was the hospital in Causeway Bay where I had been treated for my brain "thing" in January and where I had been having subsequent regular blood tests to monitor another condition that had been discovered by chance during my earlier stay.

From there I went to our mailing address office to pick up the post, and then on to AFCD to sort out some licensing paperwork.  Of course I had to have a look at the new intake, and reminiscent of a very similar case of an old pug and bulldog that had been surrendered as a pair (and happily also adopted together) there was a pug and a cocker spaniel in the same kennel, both of them clearly past their prime.  The pug had no microchip and very bad skin as well as being horrifically skinny, so it was hard to assess an age, but he was very sweet, happy to be taken out and quite perky.  I had to give him a date of birth for his license so registered him as eight, but he could be anything around that age and up. The cocker spaniel had a microchip so I knew he was thirteen, but also blind and deaf.  I was in a dilemma because I had taken a taxi to the AFCD Centre and couldn't manage both the pug and the cocker, so ended up taking the pug with the promise to his friend that I would be back.

Frankie, the pug's new name, was very happy to trot along with me to Cyberport Road where I could flag down a taxi, and was no trouble at all once we were inside on our way.  In fact he's a dear little thing with the sweetest face, but his skin condition is chronic and will take some time to heal.

Safari and Fido had woken up from their surgery and were ready to leave, but now Frankie had to wait to see a vet.  Just at that moment I got a call from the hospital to say that my blood test results indicated that I had to be admitted immediately, and could I go now?  I said no, not unless I could bring my dogs with me, and anyway I felt fine and there was really no urgency.  I said I would go on Friday, and left it at that.  Then I got another call, this time from the doctor urging me to go back sooner as I needed to be on IV fluids, so I agreed I would admit myself after I had taken the dogs back to Lamma.  However that didn't account for Frankie the pug, who was still waiting to be seen by a vet. As luck would have it, at that moment Iris, the Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre Manager, appeared carrying her own little pom, and I was able to pass Frankie over to her while asking the Acorn staff to call a van so I could get my two dogs back home.

Poor Safari and Fido's post-surgery care went as far as returning them to Lamma, where I hurriedly stuffed some things into a bag for my hospital stay, having absolutely no idea how long it would be for.  So that is why I was unable to post any blogs until now, when I have one day at home before going back for surgery on Saturday.  I knew an operation to remove a rogue gland in my neck was inevitable, and as part of my agreement to return to hospital I had bartered an earlier-than-planned surgery date so I could get it over with and return to a life without doctors and hospitals.

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I anticipate being released on Sunday but doubt it will be in time for Whiskers N Paws, although maybe I will be able to join the puppies for their return trip to Lamma.  I won't be posting another blog until I'm back home again, but you can keep up to date with what's happening via our Facebook page and now also on Instagram.  The new website will also soon be up and running which will be the final missing link to be restored.  Our new van also took to the roads today, along with a new driver.
The new van is on the road at last

I hope that there will be lots of adoptions for me to smile about after the weekend, and thanks to all the well-wishers who have sent messages of support.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Mon 28th March: Last day of Easter

Stunning Athena at Sunday's puppy afternoon
The last day of the Easter break turned out to be another reasonably good-weather one thankfully, and the lucky Tai Po dogs who were taken out hiking had a great time.  I finally managed to get most of my outstanding tasks completed at home, and now just have to figure out how I am going to cram a week's worth of vet/AFCD/office visits into the three-day week ahead.

To start with I have two dogs who need surgery; Safari with the blood-filled "fat ear" and Fido, who has a broken and bloodied tail which looks as though it has been caught in a door or something.  I suspect amputation is going to be necessary unfortunately, because a dog without a tail is a sad thing. I don't understand why tails are deliberately docked, and in countries where this cruel practice is illegal it's so lovely to see cocker spaniels, rottweilers and other breeds who are traditionally mutilated wagging full tails.  As for ear cropping, that's so horrible and so ugly that I'm completely at a loss to see any reason why someone would do this to a dog.

Some dogs have their tails docked out of necessity, like Fido as a good example, and also Bones, who is now called Jones and is settling well on Lamma.  When I first saw him at AFCD he was so emaciated that Bones seemed like an obvious name, but he has changed since then.  Apart from the fact that he had been starved, Bones-now-Jones had also clearly been deprived of companionship and company, and may well have been one of the too-many unfortunate dogs whose lives are no more than a day-to-day existence.  Although not aggressive with dogs, Bones-as-was didn't understand how playing with others worked, and his only form of amusement was throwing a ball around for and by himself.  He also had the typical caged-dog behaviour of attacking his own tail, and it was so bad that amputation became necessary.  His past treatment made Bones a poor candidate for re-homing so he came to live with me.

Bones with a full tail and ribs showing
At first I was afraid that he would be picked on by other dogs, but his solitary habits meant he didn't bother anyone so he was in turn ignored.  I put him with the youngsters, thinking they would more readily accept a newcomer, but Bones made his own way to another group of dogs in a different section.  I call this group "The Sisterhood" because they are all females who have bonded to form a tight family, and from time to time I have introduced others who needed to be taken under their protective care.  Nobody messes with the girls, and Bones has happily settled in with them as the only male.  Once he felt safe and happy he started to eat without guarding his food and put on weight, and that's when I decided he could drop his old name and leave his past behind.  Now as Jones he has even had invitations to play from Apple, one of the picked-on dogs that I moved in with the Sisterhood, and who has now become one of them and a happy girl. I watch as Apple bows and dances in front of Jones trying to entice him to play with her, and although so far he hasn't been willing I know it won't be long before he takes the plunge.  I can't wait for that day.

Treacle and Syrup
The photos from Sunday's Whiskers N Paws puppy afternoon are now up on our Hong Kong Dog Rescue Facebook page, with thanks to stand-in photographer Jimmy Tsang, and to Semirah for her editing and posting.
Lovely Donna was adopted on Sunday

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Sun 27th March: A Happy Easter Sunday

Dustin will be staying in his foster home for ever
It was a surprisingly busy afternoon at Whiskers N Paws for a holiday weekend, and as I wrote yesterday two puppies had already been chosen on Saturday to kick off the adoptions tally. My main concern isn't the babies so much, but the older pups who are now six months-ish and quickly growing out of their baby stage.  In fact many would-be adopters don't even see them as puppies, even though they are only two or three months older than the little ones, and in my eyes a far better choice for families with children, or even those without.  They are still young enough to quickly adapt to a new home, environment and family, while being old enough to have passed the need for constant supervision and care.  However today was a lucky one for two of the older puppies, with Jimmy being chosen to join his new family next weekend and Donna moving to the New Territories straight away.  Now there is only Fluffy left from the "black group", and out of all of them he has to be the sweetest and cuddliest of all.  His turn will come, I'm sure.

Trixie last Sunday
Of the three youngest siblings, Trixie left for a short trial to see how she and the cats get on, while Dustin and Eva went back to their foster home with Dustin's future confirmed and Eva needing one more week for a decision.
Volunteers getting ready for the visitors
Sweet April enjoying the sun and open space

It was a fantastic day for the West Kowloon Cultural District "Freespace Happening Event" which took place at the Nursery Park from 2pm to 7pm, and thanks to the volunteers who came along to man our HKDR stall. So far these photos taken as the stalls were being set up are the only ones I have, but there will be lots more added to our Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) Facebook page very soon. 

After so long without a website when malicious hackers made it necessary to close our old site down, we should finally have something up and running again by next week.  It won't be fully complete and we will have to add information gradually to restore all content, but at least there will be the basic information available.  Thanks for the offers of help from those who contacted us, and to everyone for hanging in there when there was nothing to see.  It will be a huge relief to be back to normal again, and hopefully it will mean more dogs in homes too. 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Sat 26th March: Well hello Sunshine

Charmaine and her instant best friends at Tamar Park
The problem with getting up early and writing my blog before photos are posted from the previous day is that I don't have anything to illustrate the text.  I know that the dogs had a great time at Tamar Park yesterday, as did all of the Tai Po crew who went out hiking, thanks to the glorious sunshine that we have been missing for too long.   I did find some photos taken by Alice Lau, one of our Positive Partners trainers and also one we recommend for personal dog training, along with her ex-HKDR doglet Charmaine.
Bendy and his new dads

Our Sunday puppy afternoon got off to a premature start with two puppies finding homes.  Bendy was formally adopted at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre, while Amos will be picked up from his current foster home after the weekend.  He had to have a meeting with the resident cats first, and although most cats don't welcome a dog into the home immediately, it doesn't take long for everything to settle. Coincidentally both foster and adopter are called Polly, so I have to think this was pre-destined.
Amos meets one of the cats

So now I am looking forward to Sunday with rather more optimism than previously, and who knows, it could be a very lucky Easter Sunday.

I had my long Easter break interrupted by an unexpected trip out to the New Territories to take a look at a potential kennel site, and as usual I'll say nothing more until there is something to write about. This search has been going on for so long and I have seen so many places across Hong Kong, the New Territories and Outlying Islands that I am conditioned to expect disappointment.  It's really not easy to find anywhere that is not only suitable for a lot of dogs but which is also accessible enough to allow for volunteers, adopters and food deliveries to get there while being far enough away from residential areas to cause annoyance to neighbours. In that regard the site I saw today is perfect, but let's see what happens.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Fri 25th March: A sunny weekend ahead

Tai Po volunteers out last month
I kept thinking it was Saturday today because I had a day off, and now I'm going to be working on Saturday so that's even more confusing.  Easter Sunday is Whiskers N Paws day of course, and as I'm typing this the sun is out and the dogs as excited about it as I am.

Nattie is one of the dogs you can meet at Tamar Park on Saturday
It's good news for the Tai Po dogs too, as there are a few group volunteer outings planned for the Easter holiday period, as well as the now-regular "PAWsome Outreach" Saturday playtimes at the Tamar Park.  We've had lots of ex-HKDR dogs visiting since these Saturday afternoon outings started, and although I only get to see the photos rather than the dogs themselves, it's still lovely to know that they're happy and doing well in their respective homes.

Fans and followers of dog trainer Victoria Stilwell ( will have read that she was bitten the other day by a K-9 police dog during a training exercise.  After the initial flurry of inaccurate reporting, Victoria herself has posted a factual account of what really happened, including the fact that she was simply an observer and was not involved with the dog or the training at all.  In this case the dog was simply doing what he had been trained to do and mistakenly thought that Victoria was there as the target.  I hope I am right in thinking that nothing bad has happened to the dog.

My own experience of being badly attacked was also a situation when I was not interacting with the dog, and in fact had my back turned to him when he sunk his teeth deeply into my hip.  That first bite was followed by several others until the dog could be pulled off (by his back legs) and pushed into his kennel.  The dog was subsequently put to sleep as being far too dangerous to have around, and could certainly never be considered as suitable for homing.  It was a combination of breed and early life experiences that had made this poor animal behave in the way he did, but whatever caused it there was nowhere for him to go without putting other people at serious risk.

Likewise the Jack Russell terrier that I wrote about recently, the one whose owner had taken to AFCD to surrender because of his unpredictable biting.  Again, this was almost certainly due to the fact that the dog was rarely taken outside of his home, and the pent-up energy and frustration over six years was too much for the dog to be able to handle.   When behaviour like that has become part of a dog's normal life and is so established, it is very hard to change.  Everything is possible, unless the problem is an actual brain defect, something that is seen in breeds like cocker spaniels and even golden retrievers, but where do you keep a dog that is known to have such serious biting issues?  No responsible rescue organisation would re-home such a dog, so having it put to sleep is the only realistic option.

The cases of a genuinely dangerous dog, however, are very rare, although sadly too many are categorised as such and subsequently destroyed.  I have lost count of the number of puppies that were adopted as perfectly friendly little characters, and who have apparently turned into snarling monsters (my words).  I am tired of hearing about how the local mongrels are unpredictable and dangerous, when if compared to the inbred behaviour characteristics of many "pure" breeds the mixes are sweet and easy in comparison.  It's all down to how a dog is treated, trained and exercised.  If you think that yelling at a puppy is perfectly acceptable, then you must expect it to think that "yelling" back at you is also fine.  Smacking will be returned as biting, and so on.

Of all the dogs that I have had to have put to sleep over thirteen years for being too dangerous to re-home, or even keep at our Homing Centre where volunteers and staff would be at risk, these are the breeds: golden retriever, labrador, French bulldog, English bulldog, bull terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier (although that was for out-of-control aggression towards other dogs), cocker spaniel and one mongrel (which was a borderline case and the hardest decision of all).

Although, just like human children, every dog is born with its own personality, the way that individualism is moulded is up to the owners.  A puppy learns very quickly and those early experiences will result in a happy and eager-to-please adult, or a suspicious and defensive one. A dog's whole life is in your hands, so please handle with care.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Thurs 24th March: Easter plans

Two is always better than one
One of the things that I hear repeated over and over again is that a home is better than staying in kennels, even if it means a dog being left alone for very long hours and under-exercised.  There is so much lack of understanding about dogs and their needs, and the sad thing is that these are the very dogs that are ultimately thrown out for "bad" behaviour.  They can't be toilet trained (they are obviously supposed to teach themselves since there is nobody at home to do that), they are destructive (bored dogs tend to be like that), they bark (they are probably shouting for help) and so on.  These dogs are like conveniences, something to be there in the evening when the owners get home and have a couple of hours to spare, but are expected to sit and wait patiently for up to twelve hours during the day.  If they're very lucky they'll get taken out in the dark for a short daily walk, but most likely they will have to wait until the weekend - as long as it's not raining.

The truth is that while staying with us at HKDR the dogs have company, at the very least other dogs to play with for Tai Po residents, or humans if they are at Ap Lei Chau.  They are walked as often as possible, twice a day for the little ones during the week and much more than that at weekends, but the point is that this is a hopefully temporary situation.  This is not going to be for ever, only until a nice home is found.  If we allow dogs to go to homes that are considered only better than being in our Homing Centres, that is how their lives until they die, and that's not good enough.

Puppies love to have a friend to play with
Many of the would-be adopters that are rejected are perfectly nice people and genuine dog lovers, and it's not a personal character assassination at all when we say no.  There are other pets that would be more suitable, although most living creatures crave companionship, whether of their own kind or human. Too many pets lead solitary and extremely lonely lives, and it seems pointless to me to rescue any dog or puppy and then to place them in this situation.   The internationally recognised length of time that is acceptable for a dog to be left on its own on a regular basis is four hours, although older dogs may sleep for a lot of the time so of course there can be adjustments made.  For puppies, having companionship is a non-negotiable requirement.

There are several things happening this Easter weekend, with the Tamar Park dog outing being a regular Saturday event now, and the Freespace Happening at West Kowloon  on Sunday
自由約 Freespace Happening (27.3.2016)
2:00pm – 7:00pm
西九文化區苗圃公園 Nursery Park, West Kowloon Cultural District

We'll be at Whiskers N Paws on Sunday too, and don't forget that every day is puppy day now!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Weds 23rd March: Open over Easter

Following on from my mention of the Legco (Legislative Council) session regarding the Proposed Amendments to the Animal Trader Laws (Cap 139b), it seems once again that obvious differences of opinion between not only the traders and Animal NGOs are blocking any progress, but also division between the Animal Organisations themselves.  It's very sad that what this means is that the animals are left to suffer while the humans argue, but really no surprise when you see what is going on in the world.

The two little dogs that the (very wealthy) owner told the helpers to get rid of were brought to us today, and they are lovely. I'm sure they are siblings, six years old and obviously very close so we are looking for a home where they can stay together.  I also heard that the same person wanted to get rid of a parrot, not confirmed yet, but if you are interested let me know and I will send details when I have any.
Joseph was Jerry but we already have Jack Russell Jerry

This weekend is Easter of course, and a long weekend, but we are open every single day of the year for adoptions and dog walking.  Whiskers N Paws will also be open and the puppies will be there on Sunday as usual, but if you are looking for a puppy to join your family you can visit our own Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre any day of the week from 10am to 6pm to meet a large selection. We're at 21 Main Street in case you didn't know, and of course our smaller dogs are also there waiting to meet adopters.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Tues 22 March: An unacceptable state of affairs

The struggle to introduce some form of protection for breeder and pet shop dogs continues, and I was kicking myself for totally forgetting that the subject was (once again) on the Legco agenda so missed being there.  This is such an important attempt to get the proposed amendments to the Animal Trader Laws (Cap139b) passed, because right now there is nothing in place.  This is a shocking indictment of the Hong Kong Government, who have shown time and time again that animals are not worth protecting or helping in any way.  This is a link to the SPCA's latest update and the combined Animal NGO's letter of support…/papers/fseh_awca20160322cb2-1112-

There are no laws in place to stop the suffering of breeding dogs, or their pups, and if you had seen the result of this in the discarded and worn out bitches that end up at HKDR or any of the other animal rescue organisations, you would be horrified.  Or sadly, maybe not, as the thriving puppy trade is supported by those who buy, and without buyers there would be no business. Such people shout about their right to choose, but when that choice means causing suffering to innocent victims then it is wrong.  There are no grey areas here, it's just wrong.

Bibs has very long nails indicating that he has never been walked
Rampant interbreeding happens all the time, whether in private homes between dogs that haven't been desexed or at breeding horror-houses where the offspring as sold as something they're not, because at a very young age most buyers can't tell the difference.   Terrier-type Scribble was one such dog, a very pretty and sweet young girl of unknown parentage, and today there was another arrival at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre, this time a boy.  Like Scribble, Bibs is one year old, very pretty and sweet-natured, and he was found tied to a lamp post in Lam Tin, New Territories. These dogs never have been microchipped and are the result of ignorance, stupidity, selfishness or greed, or all combined.

I was also asked today if we would take in two dogs from a home where the owner had instructed the Filipina helper to get rid of them, in any way, it didn't matter.  Both dogs are six years old, siblings I believe, with one looking like a Japanese spitz and the other another small and pretty mix.  Being male and female and not desexed I'm sure there have been litters produced, though there are no pups to be seen.  The owner does the same with his rottweilers I'm told, lets them breed and then gives away the puppies (or sells them).  This type of activity would be made illegal, or would at least have to be registered and licensed, if Cap139b was introduced, but right how there's nothing to stop people like this man from doing exactly what he wants.

Yet another shocking case of abuse and cruelty about which nothing can be done under the current non-existent laws is this one.  The video shows two Malinois (Belgian shepherds) living in small cages on a roof.  It is distressing just to see them, yet SPCA are powerless to help.  Here is a description of the situation by Narelle of Saikung Stray Friends, and you can see the video shared on our Hong Kong Dog Rescue (HKDR) Facebook page:

A visit was carried out to this walk-up building in Mong Kok following reports of two dogs in cages and constantly barking.
Upon our inspection we saw the dogs confined in cages, one in a larger size and one in a smaller size cage. There was a canvas shelter roof cover. The smaller dog was turning round and around showing signs of total distress. Initially we thought they were male and female but both dogs are females. We were absolutely disgusted to see both dogs have "No Bark" Collars attached to their necks so this is why they recenty they have become more quiet. We went down to street level and spoke with a young man who said his brother owned the dogs. He said the dogs were walked daily but our reports told us only the larger dog goes occasionally for a walk but the small female does not leave her cage. Our talks were to establish if we could offer assistance to build a larger enclosure to give the dogs more freedom but this was rejected...we offerred to provide kennel accomodation to the dogs and we were told the owner would call us but we are still waiting. My question is, what is the purpose of having these two dogs and for what reason do they need to live a life of total confinement.....the smaller female is only 5 months old....she should be having lots of exercise and having some puppy fun and love. I dont unerstand or will never comprehend this selfish and uncaring attitude of people who do this to these very lovely dogs. Just treating them as if they are not living things with feelings and emotions. When leaving, I felt we accomplished absolutely zero and felt helpless knowing nothing will possibilty change for these two poor dogs. Obviously been bought just to breed. Shame breeders dont have any conscious or have any obligation to ensure the sale of dogs dont end up in such a torturous and tormented existence.

Monday, 21 March 2016

Mon 21st March: Nothing to do but watch the rain

Gorgeous Scribble had her adoption confirmed today
There's so much going on but little of interest to write about, as these are all future projects or even just possibilities.  When there's a chance of something good being offered that requires a lengthy and detailed application, you have to do it regardless of the outcome most likely being negative.  That means reams of paperwork (or computer work) and hours of time with most likely nothing to show at the end of it, but it's all part and parcel of being a charity dependent on grants and funding in any way possible.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, just one of the many big projects that is a necessity now, rather than just a nice thing to do, is a total renovation of the Tai Po Homing Centre.  I'm also aware that I need to carry out some serious repairs on Lamma, as this current windy weather has highlighted the fact that the metal porch roof supports are so rusty that they really need replacing before the typhoon season starts.  If what is predicted actually happens, it's going to be a bad year for typhoons, but we all know how unreliable the forecasts are.  I really can't take a risk though, and the same applies at Tai Po although in other ways (leaking roof being one problem there).

So although the dogs and finding them homes are always the top priority, there are many things that also need to be done that you would probably never even consider.

A young Safari, rather slimmer than he is now
Today was a wash-out as far as dog-related tasks were concerned, and although I did take the dogs out for their usual walk not every dog agreed to go with me.  Big Safari pretends to be a tough boy, but show him a drop of rain and he thinks he will drown.  He's also got an aural haemotoma at the moment, an ear flap filled with blood, and after the first time I drained it and it filled up again, he wouldn't let me anywhere near him with a needle.  It's become quite a joke now, as I can turn him into a whimpering blob of jelly just by holding up the needle, even in its wrapping.  To actually stick it in his ear involves a wrestling match with me sitting on his back with one arm clamped round his head while he's screaming even before I've touched him, and it's a near-impossible task.  In fact without surgery to stitch the two sides of the ear flap together it's pretty much a waste of time draining the blood out, because it just fills up again.

I had a quick check of the weather forecast for the coming Easter weekend and it seems that we are going to be blessed with some sunshine on Saturday and Sunday at least, so that's good news for
自由約 Freespace Happening this weekend on 27th March
2:00pm – 7:00pm
西九文化區苗圃公園 Nursery Park, West Kowloon Cultural District

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Sun 20 March 16: Now every day is Puppy Day

What can I say?  It was blowing a cold gale on the terrace at Whiskers N Paws, and with the Easter holidays coming up it proved to be another fruitless afternoon for adoptions.  Of course the puppies themselves weren't bothered and had their usual fun-filled three hours, and for that it was worth it. Even so I had to pack up early to ensure getting back to Lamma after last Sunday's almost-disaster, and it was just as well I did because the wind was strong and the sea very choppy.

It's predicted that this year will be a bad one weather-wise, and with the adoption rate already being very low compared to last year and many puppies having to stay at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre, we will start making every a day a puppy adoption day, rather than only Sundays.  Of course we will still be at Whiskers N Paws as always, but we need to let potential adopters know that they can come by any day of the week to meet a large selection of puppies, all ages.  In fact you can also meet two lovely girls at Whiskers N Paws any day, because Sophie and Babette are full-time guests there.

Our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre at 21 Main Street is small, but we have the advantage of being very close to a dog park where the older puppies can run and play freely, just as they do on the Whiskers N Paws terrace. If it's raining then they can still be seen indoors, even though the space is a bit cramped.  It's not ideal but it's the best that we can offer if we can't find foster homes for as many as possible.

All of our puppies are very good-natured and friendly, and with many of them now being five to six months old it's the best time of all to adopt.  Puppies this age have already been fully vaccinated and have started basic training.  They know how to walk on a leash, and are well socialised.  At this age you can also get a better idea of the final adult size, and for families with young children I always recommend puppies of this age rather than babies.





Sisters Treacle and Syrup
Of course we have youngsters too, and there was a lot of interest in the three new additions today (Dustin, Eva and Trixie). Gorgeous Lulu was also the centre of attraction, and no surprise there as she is both beautiful and sweet, and there are the three sisters Treacle, Syrup and Laura still waiting to join their forever families.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Sat 19th March: Sleepy Saturday

I have to admit that rather than continuing with the work that needed to be done today, I took a break by reading a book and catching up on much-needed sleep.  Murphy had been so restless the night before, panting and whining and wanting to go out, come in, go out again, and then complaining that another dog was sleeping in his space and so on, that I barely got a wink of sleep before the other dogs woke me at the crack of dawn - as they always do.

I did, however, do something that had been on my mind for a long time but needed a warm day to be able to carry out.  That was to give little Sandy a bath, haircut and nail clip, which sounds easy but is far from it. She screams, howls and struggles throughout, the result of which was a big bald strip down her back where I lost control of the clippers.  Never mind, that hair will grow back and I'm not entering Sandy for any beauty shows.

Four of our dogs had their Saturday outing to Tamar Park in Central, and as always they really enjoyed the day out and chance to run around and play.  Our volunteers go to the waterfront park every Saturday if you would like to meet them and the dogs whose turn it is, and if you want to know who will be going any Saturday you can check out the dogs on the PAWsome Outreach Facebook page.
Four happy dogs and their volunteers today

Quince found his new family today
At our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre it was a lucky day for one of our many poodles as Quince was chosen to go home with his nice new family.

Now my thoughts and focus are on Sunday's puppy afternoon again, and I'm hoping not to repeat last week's getting home dramas.  To make sure that doesn't happen I'll be leaving at 4pm with my Lamma puppies, which include three lovely and happy newbies.  If you would like to meet them please make sure you come early, and in fact that applies to anyone who is considering adoption.  We are there by 2pm every Sunday, and you can spend the afternoon before making a decision rather than having to rush.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Fri 18th March: Finding the culprit

Sophie leads her friends
Making up for my working-from-home day on Thursday, today was non-stop, back and forth between Ap Lei Chau, Pokfulam and Sai Ying Pun as I was preparing the large group of five month-old puppies for Sunday's Whiskers N Paws adoption afternoon.

This is the time when all puppies must by law be licensed, and that means having a rabies vaccination too.   There are several youngsters of the same age at our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre, including Banjo (big and very beautiful), pretty Jill (whose brother Jack was adopted as soon as he came to us), sweet blackie friends Fluffy and Donna, and lovely Athena.  They are all very happy and friendly pups, having either been in foster homes for some time, or well-socialised at the Homing Centre as well as having learned how to walk nicely on a leash.  That really helps when they are taken home, especially if the adopters aren't experienced.

In addition, the two girls who have been staying at Whiskers N Paws, Sophie and Babette, are also five months old now and ready to be made official.  That made seven pups, all big enough to need their own crates, and I also had two to add from Lamma.

Robbie is one of the sharpei-cross brothers, but he has never been seen in public (Whiskers N Paws) because he has had tick fever, and is only now ready for his first vaccination (at five months).

The other dog was Mercy, a very timid girl who was never suitable for homing and who has been with me for a few years now.  She's one of the kitchen gang, all dogs being very particular about where they hang out, and with whom. For whatever reason she is very fat, I can't deny it, and it was this and the fact that she won't let me touch her even though she is quite happy to lie right next to me when I'm in the kitchen, that hid the stomach wound from being noticed.   It was only the smell that gave it away, and even then it was sporadic because when she lay with her stomach against the ground, the fat on her sides acted as a barrier.  When it was finally established where the awful on-and-off smell was coming from, I knew I had to get Mercy over to see a vet.  Not easy with a dog the size of a small elephant, and very timid too, but at least she's not at all aggressive and allowed herself to be pushed into a large travel crate.

With so many dogs and not that much van space (we are still without a driver for our new vehicle), making repeat trips was necessary.  The first batch to go to AFCD were the Ap Lei Chau puppies (along with Robbie and Mercy), and once they had had their rabies shots we turned back to the Homing Centre to drop them off and to pick up the two girls at Whiskers N Paws.

As if that wasn't enough, two dogs had been surrendered to AFCD from the same home, and one of these was a poodle cross that had been adopted from HKDR a very long time ago, before we had any kind of computerised record-keeping system.  The other dog was around the same age, eleven years now, and a very lovely medium-sized shaggy dog, more terrier-like than anything else. I had to take them of course, especially as the poodle was in a pretty shocking state, with rotten teeth and, as I later found out, heartworm.  I still have a file of adopted dogs dating right back to the early days of HKDR, and if it takes me all day to find it I will dig out the name of the horrible people or person that did this.

The next stop was Acorn Vet Hospital, and after Robbie, Mercy and the two new dogs had been off-loaded, the van took Sophie and Babette back to Whiskers N Paws before coming back to Acorn again.

I called the new dogs Dandy and Beano (after comics from my childhood days), and they are now at our Homing Centre.  Beano the poodly boy, will have a week of antibiotics to prepare him for his heartworm treatment, as well as help with his stinking mouth, while shaggy Dandy seems to be in good health.  They don't seem to be particularly "sticky" given that they were surrendered (dumped, abandoned) together, so there is no problem separating them.

Fat lump Mercy was mercifully compliant when it was her turn to be examined, and as expected she has screw-worm infection.  That foul smell is unmistakeable.  She had a shot of Ivomec to kill the disgusting maggots, and will have to return in a week to see if she will need surgery to close the gaping wound.  Maybe this unfortunate episode will turn out to have a silver lining if it results in Mercy being more amenable to being touched, and it won't be the first time that a visit to the vet has changed a shy dog this way.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Thurs 17th March: Money well spent

I ended up staying at home to work today, delaying vet and AFCD visits until Friday as there is still so much "paperwork" to do (on the computer).  The Flag Day information is about to be launched, along with the stickers which can be bought in advance.  Ideally we would pre-sell almost all of them, which would mean we wouldn't miss anyone who didn't happen to be out on the actual day, and if you are interested in buying a sheet you can email for information even earlier that our official pre-Flag Day launch.

What do we do with the money raised by donations?  Well the most important "people" at HKDR are the dogs, all six hundred of them, and they need feeding and their monthly tick and heartworm prevention as the absolute minimum.  All dogs also need to be vaccinated against infectious diseases as well as being licensed when they have their rabies shot.  Any dog that stays with us longer than three years has to have their licenses updated, and that's what I'm busy doing with many of my Lamma dogs at the moment.  To make things easy (that means so I don't forget), I do a whole bunch of dogs in one go, so now it's all dogs that are due a rabies vaccination in 2016.

Many of our "staff" are volunteers but among those who are paid are the cleaners at Tai Po, because keeping the site clean and water/food bowls filled is an absolute necessity, especially when there are so many dogs to be taken care of.  It's physically a very demanding job, especially in the summer and with the hundreds of steps leading up to the higher enclosures.

Vet bills are one of our biggest outlays, and there isn't a single dog or puppy who hasn't seen a vet for one reason or another.  Hopefully it's for nothing more important than vaccinations and desexing, but there is so much tick fever around that many pups have to be treated for that potentially fatal disease before they can be homed.  At the other end of a dog's life come the old-age problems such as arthritis, kidney failure and cancer, as well as everything else that can happen at any time such as injury.  I currently have one of my Lamma dogs in hospital with a very nasty leg wound which at first needed dressing changes every day, then every other day and now every third day, but he is still not able to come home due to the severity of the injury.  Luckily Fatty (one of a Chinese New Year litter called Kung, Hay, Fatty and Joy) seems to enjoy her little hotel room (cage) and jumps back inside by herself after having been taken out.  Still, there are daily charges racking up and nothing to be done but pay whatever is necessary.

Many of the small dogs in particular need surgery when they come to us, which includes common problems like luxating patellas or mammary masses on females that haven't been desexed.  Almost all small dogs have bad teeth that need cleaning and/or extractions, and full dental work isn't cheap (as many dog owners are shocked to find out).  Skin problems are also very common, and that means special diets as well as medicine.

Patella luxation (slipping kneecaps) is also a large-dog problem, as well as hip dysplaysia, both of which need surgery to repair.  Joint problems on large dogs can be genetic or develop as a result of over-exercising during puppyhood. The bigger the dog the more careful you need to be about not taking it for long walks at too early an age when the bones are still growing, and holding off on desexing males to allow their leg muscles to properly develop.  In fact unless there is a good reason for doing so, such as aggression or over-sexualised behaviour, eight months is  the minimum recommended age for neutering.  As females can come into season and mate as young as six months, they need to be spayed (desexed) at that age.  Preventing unwanted litters is a priority consideration.

I could go on for a few more pages explaining how donations are used, but I think you get the picture on the dog front.   The next big outlay, which could still come under the "For the Dogs" banner, is the renovation work needed at the Tai Po Homing Centre, as it will include much-improved accommodation for the dog guests.  I'm still working on the design plans for that, but it will happen very soon.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Weds 16th March: On the road again (almost)

Well the day finally arrived when our new van was delivered to Tai Po, thanks to incredibly generous sponsorship.  It's such a relief to have our own wheels again, although ironically we still need to employ a new driver so for now we can just sit and admire it.

There's light at the end of the tunnel too for the new website, and we should have something up and running by next week, again thanks to very kind sponsorship both of a financial and hands-on kind. Not having a website for so long has been a disaster for us in so many ways, but most of all for the dogs and their lack of a platform to be seen.  Despite our best attempts at promoting the dogs and puppies on Facebook, we can't deny that adoption enquiries have fallen, along with actual adoptions, and that really hurts.  If for no other reason that to give our lovely four-legged friends the homes they need and deserve I will be so happy when the HKDR website is up and running again.

Unfortunately too, there haven't been any puppy photos to post from last Sunday's Whiskers N Paws for various reasons, but our photographer for the day, Semirah, did manage to salvage a few that she considered decent enough to share. Both of the puppies shown here are five months old, big and beautiful, and they are Banjo (male) and Lulu (female).

Amos has been in foster since he was very young, and like Banjo who was returned to us this week, he will also have nowhere to go if he doesn't get adopted this coming Sunday.  We are very grateful to all foster parents and know that due to the above-mentioned website issues many puppies stayed longer than was initially anticipated.  This is what his foster says about Amos:

"Meet AMOS, the little 3 month old rescue puppy with the biggest eyes and the warmest heart, looking for a forever home. 
Amos is fabulous with young children and feels right at home. He is energetic and loves his cuddles and is extremely patient. He is fully vaccinated, de-wormed, and paper trained and has been going out for regular walks which he loves. 
Here he is, on his favourite orange little couch."

There was happy news at least for one foster dog, as Lulu (yep, same name as the puppy) the senior cocker spaniel had her forever status confirmed  She'd fitted in so well at her foster home that there was no reason for her to leave.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Tues 15th March: All sorts planned for 2016

Despite having no website to advertise our upcoming Workshop Programme, the first in the series was sold out very shortly after being posted on Facebook and a second class will have to be arranged to cope with the demand.  This (Cantonese) workshop is about home grooming your dog, and is hosted by our Ap Lei Chau Homing Centre Manager, Iris. On top of her own grooming qualifications and competition successes, Iris's years of experience in extreme makeovers and dealing with difficult dogs has given her the know-how to be able to teach others, so if you are interested please let us know.  As said, the first workshop is fully booked but we can let you know when a second one has been arranged.

There will also be other popular subjects covered in this workshop series, so please watch out for announcements.

It's also time to sign up for a place in the coming year's Positive Partners dog-human training courses, even if your puppy is too young at the moment to participate.  Think ahead to ensure you won't miss out when the time is right, as numbers are kept low to ensure every dog and their human partners receive the individual attention they need.   It's also never too late for a dog to learn, so don't think that your mature adult is a lost cause and won't benefit from going back to school. All of our trainers, led by our own Education & Training Manager, Cactus, have the highest qualifications and years of experience under their belts, so you can be sure that your dog and participating family members are in safe and reliable hands.  You can choose either English or Cantonese for these classes.

As I mentioned yesterday, 2016 is lined up to be a very full year with all sorts of major plans in the pipeline, one of which is our first ever Flag Day which will take place in July.  It's not an easy process applying for these types of things, and there is a lot of competition for spaces.  We really hope our supporters, and passers-by, will prove our efforts worthwhile, because ironically the more successful we are the better chance we have of being granted future flag days.   When the time comes we will need everyone to share the information to make sure our volunteers come back with full collection boxes!