25 December 2012 will be a Christmas that holds a special significance in my heart.
My husband and I chose a new route for our Christmas morning walk with Eva, our golden retriever. Not long into our walk, Eva suddenly froze and looked ahead which is unusual as she is an extremely laid back dog! Nothing really fazes or catches her interest, unless it is food.
I followed the direction of her gaze which drew me to a 3-foot deep drain. Huddled together were 2 female puppies, not more than 3 months old, one black and one white. While my husband was holding on to Eva, I clambered down into the drain with the intention of saving them. However, the black puppy scampered away, leaving its sibling rooted on the spot.
At a quick glance, I thought I saw a red collar on the white puppy. But on closer examination, I was shocked that the red collar was actually a ring of exposed flesh with two ends of a steel hanger crossed, pulled tight, then twisted in a vice grip around the puppy’s neck. The puppy’s tiny neck was garroted, the steel wire slicing through the tender flesh of her throat, like knife through butter. The poor puppy was letting off intermittent painful yelps and was quavering in pain. Cautiously, I approached her. She wanted to dart away but she could not as she did not have the energy to. Quickly, I scooped her into my arms with her whimpering pitifully.
With my bare hands, I tried to remove the wire around the puppy’s neck but it was too tightly wound to be pried open. It was a public holiday, all the veterinarian clinics were closed and I was determined to find help for this puppy. Thus, I cradled the little bundle in my arms and raced home with my husband and Eva behind me.
Upon reaching home, I tried to slide a cutter under the twisted wire to try and free her from her agony. The wire was too deeply embedded into the puppy’s flesh that it made her winced and arched away to the corner of the wall. I came up with another plan which was to use pliers and gently unwound the twisted wire to loosen its hold on the puppy. It worked and the puppy was freed from its painful ordeal.
Gently, I flushed the dirt and cleaned the exposed neck wound with a mild solution of chlorhexidine. The puppy just sat there frozen, her eyes wide and bewildered, except her chest rose and fell mightily, betraying her fear from the horrific experience.
Next, I whipped out my mobile phone and snapped two photographs of the wound and the puppy to Raymund Wee, founder of Noah’s Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary (NANAS). He told me that I did an excellent job at cleaning the puppy’s wound as he had showed me the correct procedure of wound cleaning before. Raymund told me that he could connect with the puppy through her sorrowful and wistful molten brown eyes. He has seen many cases of animals that are abandoned on the streets, having little to eat and being the target of abuse by people. Like all street animals, they yearn for security and safety. After looking at the photographs, Raymund told me that her home should be at the sanctuary.
To prevent the puppy from injuring herself and to get some rest, I placed her into a cage. By late afternoon, she began to move around and sniff at her cage. She was a different puppy as her eyes sparkled with mischief as she wagged her tail excitedly. I treated her with some roast chicken that was left over from Christmas Eve which she gobbled down. I thought to myself, “What a voracious appetite!”
Now, she was a happy rambunctious puppy again, giving us lots of little licks to show her appreciation and running around in circles that expressed her evident joy. The once shocked and anguish look was replaced by angelic and trusting eyes. Despite the nightmare of being almost strangled to death with a wire that was put onto her on purpose, my husband and I knew that deep down, all she wanted was to love and be loved. Both of us rejoiced in her speedy recovery and her indomitable spirit.
I shudder to think if we had not found her, she would have suffered a slow and painful death from the garroted neck and the infection to her open wound. For some reason we decided to change our route on Christmas Day; and our Eva’s eyes and nose, which normally are fixated only on food, this time it was on the puppies. It must be God’s timing and mercy.
The true meaning of Christmas is centered on the birth of Jesus Christ and ushering of hope unto the world. Through God’s grace and mercy, this puppy was given a new lease of life. To remember and celebrate on this special day, I decided to name her “Christmas” which is a fitting reminder that miracles do happen and that we are called to as their guardians to protect, love and care for them.
By Siah Li Mei