Here’s an edited version of my first written assignment for my Diploma in Canine Psychology, with the International School of Canine Psychology (ISCP).
My first encounter with a dog was when I was a little girl of 6 growing up in Malacca, in Malaysia. A stray dog, left behind by his owners, wandered into our garden and my father took a liking to him and decided to keep him. We called him Brownie, and he knew tricks, we never had to tie him up as he would not venture past the gate without us. He would come out with my father and I when we went jogging in the evenings.
When I was 8 and living in Trengganu, on the East Coast of Malaysia, my parents agreed to look after a friend’s puppy for a few days. They kept the poor puppy in a room full of wooden crates containing my father’s antiques, with newspapers down on the floor. The puppy never got taken out for a walk, I only remember my brother and I having to pick up the papers and lay down fresh ones.
I pestered my father for a dog of my own, and when I was 12 he brought home a young dog from the SPCA in Kuala Lumpur. We named her Alpha. She was very smart and I taught her a lot of tricks – sit, beg, lie down, crawl, say “Please”. She was also an escape artist, and I spent hours mending our fences trying to keep her within our property. Fox was a stray dog that I found cowering under a truck and brought home. I named her Fox because her fur was a rich reddish brown and her tail was like a fox’s brush. We had Alpha and Fox when we moved to Johor Bahru. Fox was never the most energetic dog, and I know now that she suffered from an enlarged heart and had ascites (water retention) in her hindlegs. One day, Fox just collapsed and her heart gave out right there on our driveway. We buried her in a secluded spot up on a hill nearby. That evening, Alpha lay down on the exact spot Fox had died in on our driveway, and wouldn’t move from there until the next morning. I believe that was her way of showing her grief at the death of her friend.
Mighty was a white puppy that I found wandering our neighbourhood. She had a collar around her neck, which she had outgrown, and it was cutting into her flesh. I cut the collar off, and brought her into my home. She was a cute little thing, but my father took a dislike to her because she was female. One day I went to school, and when I came home my father told me he’d taken Mighty to the complex where his dental clinic was, and he’d let her out in the carpark. I was heartbroken.
Metro was a male puppy that my neighbour’s children and I found in the bushes in our neighbourhood, along with 3 other puppies. Their mother was nowhere to be seen. We waited, then went back the next day, and still there was no sign of the mother. She may have been killed by a car. So, we took the puppies, and gave them to our neighbours. I kept the only male puppy, and my father called him Metro. I felt that, after the incident with Mighty, if the puppy was a male, I’d have a better chance at keeping him. I was about 16 years old then.
Metro was a menace. Now I realise he was feral. He had aggression issues, was a resource guarder, and an escape artist par excellence. If he managed to wriggle loose when our gate was open, he’d be out like a shot, and we wouldn’t see him until the evening. But, despite that, I think he loved me, as he would always come into the house to lay on the cool marble tiles, while my family watched TV, and he’d let me rub his tummy. While all the time growling at me. I called it his “Love Croon”.
One day, Metro got out, and when he came home, I noticed he was limping, and there was blood around his nose. He must have been hit by a car. Poor Metro managed to get home, and we took him to the vet. However, the vet was useless, because all he did was give Metro some painkillers and said “He’ll be fine”. Metro wasn’t fine. His wounds opened up and maggots grew in them. He was in a lot of pain. I begged my father to take Metro to a different vet, but he said it was a waste of money. One night, about a week after the accident, I heard Metro screaming in the night, and in the morning, I found him dead under my father’s car.