Malaysian rescue dogs.


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In life, we wonder how we have arrived at the point we now find ourselves, what has shaped us into the people we are now. I’ve always been an animal lover, particularly dogs, so much so I spent 25 years as a RAAF police dog handler. Looking back, there has never been a period in my 70 years I have not had a dog, for me they are a necessity for life. Dogs, through their different temperaments and dispositions and need to interact with us change us. This little dog of which I write brought out a side of me I knew existed but had never acted on.

We were living in Malaysia at the time. Being a lover of animals, I was disgusted by the way they treated animals. Everywhere you went there were street dogs, wild dogs that were either born on the street never experiencing a positive interaction with people, or dogs who had simply been dumped and abandoned.

One day, coming home from work, I noticed a small red dog coming out of a drain, she made her way across a busy highway to the local shops, looking for food. The local’s reaction was to throw stones at her, and chase her away. This dog was completely devoid of hair, covered in scabby sores and obviously very, very hungry, and so I determined to catch her.

I enlisted my wife’s help and together, armed with a cardboard box and a piece of ply we adjourned to the local shops. The dog had moved on from the shops, but we found her a couple of streets back from the highway. Together we chased her until we had her cornered up against a fence and tried to grab her. This was met with much growling and gnashing of teeth. Rabies being prevalent in Malaysia, we decided to take a more sensible approach. So, we chased her around for a good half an hour trying to throw the carboard box over her. We passed many locals who laughed at us and shook their heads saying ‘what you do, silly White man’. Eventually, I managed to get the box over her, slid the ply under the box and dog and carried the bundle home.

Once home, I prepared the laundry with a water bowl, some food and a nice comfy rug for her to sleep on, closed the door and left her to settle in. I stuck my head around the door next morning, receiving nothing but a menacing growl for my troubles. The dog slept and ate for the next week, waking just long enough to pee and defecate, so tired and worn out was she. After a week, we were still unable to get near her. Still, we persevered and a few days passed and she ceased growling at us. Another few days and we released her from the laundry and let her have the run of the house. Jack and Puddles, our other two dogs would have nothing to do with her. She was dirty, scabby and smelled to high hell, and so we named her Blossom. Another week passed and finally she allowed us to touch her, so I picked her up, gave her a bath and took her to the Vet for a check-up.

The Vet gave us a concoction he said would grow hair on a bowling ball. I bathed her in the solution and shortly after, hair started to sprout. Every time she ventured outside, the wind would tickle her hair and so she scratched until she drew blood. We limited her to the house after that, her skin improved, lost a lot of its redness from the sunburn and stopped bothering her. After a while Jack and Puddles accepted her and so we had a threesome: Jack, Puddles and Blossom.

Blossom became very protective of us, firing up if anyone even remotely looked at us in a threatening way. Whenever we came home, she would meet us at the gate, screaming and howling like a banshee. Sadly, she never became an outwardly affectionate dog like Jack. She allowing us to pat her or sit next to her, but never would she sit on our laps. Jack on the other hand was quite affectionate, too big to sit on my lap, he would lie down on the couch next to me with his head on my lap. Every morning he would do this as I had my morning coffee. Afternoons, I would sit on the outside steps, jack sitting next to me, my arm around him.

Blossom had grown all her hair back, long, lush, light tan locks. Whenever we took her for a walk, the locals would stop us, fascinated by such a beautiful dog, little realising she was the very same dog they had thrown rocks at and chased away not six months earlier. A few of the RAAFies had rescued monny dogs, but Blossom, because of her miraculous change, had become quite well known by other Australians living in the area and they often asked after her.

Eventually our time in Malaysia came to an end. Bringing dogs home from Malaysia was a very difficult process, involving a three month quarantine period I wasn’t sure Jack, Puddles or Blossom could handle. It was also very expensive. Had we decided on just one dog to bring home, how were we to decide, all three had similar stories, albeit not as traumatic as Blossoms. And so, I scouted around for homes for all three dogs. Jack and Puddles, now inseparable, went to the home of a cook who worked on base. Blossom went to Darryl, a dog handler who worked for me.

After surrendering Blossom to Darryl, we often walked past his house, when Blossom saw us, she would scream like a banshee until we went over and said hello. Jack and Puddles were also always very pleased when we visited them, minus the banshee wailing. Puddles disappeared from the cook’s house shortly after we surrendered him. The cook, fearful of my reaction, I was told, scoured the area trying to find him. He heard a dog that looked like puddles had been run over and buried in a field alongside the highway. Apparently, armed with a shovel he went to the field and dug the dog up, to what purpose I do not know, other than perhaps identify the body. As luck would have it, it wasn’t Puddles, Puddles returning home a few days later.

We returned home, minus our three friends. Many, many years later I ran into Darryl on line. My first question to him was what happened to blossom. Apparently, she lived quite a spoilt life until Darryl also returned to Australia, whereupon he gave her to an elderly Chinese couple who spoilt her outrageously, calling her Princess Blossom. I never heard what happened to Jack and Puddles after we left, hopefully they lived out their lives in a secure, loving environment.


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