Tuesday 7th July: Winners and losers

Out on the morning walks the dogs like nothing better than to swim in the lakes, and with the high temperatures it’s necessary to keep them cool.  Every summer there are reports of dogs dying of heat stroke, and it can happen quickly and suddenly.  It’s not heat stroke that’s the problem today, rather a seemingly random attack on doglet Misha by a group of other doglets.  One minute they were all splashing happily in the water and the next I saw Misha being chased by a small gang, including at least one of her sisters.  Being a sharpei cross, Misha has a very short coat and a nip from another dog can break and tear the skin very easily.  Sure enough, I can see there’s a fairly long split in Misha’s leg, so it’s off to the vet to be stitched up.  She’s only just recovered from exactly the same sort of wound on her shoulder, and it seems that she is becoming a “victim dog”.  Within a group, or pack, there are dogs that are leaders and those that are followers, and as the doglets are now growing into adults they are finding their place in the hierarchy.  The timid dogs like Woody and the Monkey Pups are natural victims and they are often picked on by the others, but I’m surprised to see Misha being relegated to the bottom division.

 Joining Misha on today’s vet visit is Toby, one of the original dogs that came to Lamma as a puppy and is now around 5 years old.  He’s always had a problem with one back leg as he appeared to have had something tied around it as a baby pup, and the resulting scar tissue formed a tight band which basically deadened his foot.  The band was cut when he was very young, but the damage was done.  He also has a chronic skin problem and has been scraped, examined and tested many times, but without any conclusive result.  Now he’s back again for another blood test to check his thyroid levels, but I think he’s just one of those dogs who’s never going to be 100% fit.

Having missed going to AFCD yesterday other than to get my two dogs’ rabies shots and licenses updated, I have to go today.  Even before I go into the kennel block to check the new intakes,  I’m told that two dogs that I had reserved some time ago but who were microchipped so not instantly available for rehoming, are now ready for release.  They’re being kept in another block, in a much nicer environment than the general kennels, but out of sight means out of mind and I had completely forgotten about them.  I don’t know how long they have been waiting, as I don’t even recognize them when I see them.  Thankfully they are both small dogs, a white peke and a shih tzu/terrier type.  They’re my only “purchases” today, although I reserve some others for later.

 The Pekingese, Mojo, has the typical white peke personality which makes him think he’s King of the World.  Luckily he decides that I’m worthy of his acceptance, and as the one who took him out of his prison, I become his new best friend.  It’s just as well as someone has to hold him while he gets his rabies shot, and although he tries his best to resist I’m now pretty much an expert when it comes to pinning down squirming dogs as they are microchipped and vaccinated (although I did once get chipped myself when the needle slipped and pierced my hand instead of the dog!)

 The shih tzu/terrier, now called Gus, is a breeze.  Sweet and already 11 years old, he doesn’t bat an eyelid when it’s his turn.

 Both dogs done and having been to the vet for their further vaccinations and heartworm tests (negative), I’m now faced with the problem of where to put them.  Pekes can’t tolerate the heat so Mojo must be indoors with aircon, and that means only one place – the office.  Mark’s away for the week so his chair space now becomes a peke space, though not before all the other office residents have given Mojo a welcoming beating up.  Initiation rites over, the others get on with what they do best, ie. playing, while I’m left still holding little Gus.  For now he’ll have to come back to Lamma, as there’s no other place for him at kennels.

I hear on the grapevine that yet another dog shelter in the New Territories is in trouble, and the lives of the 300 resident dogs are in danger.  This is the second shelter in the area to have been targeted, and many of our volunteers and others rallied to help the first one, while HKDR also took in quite of few of the dogs.  Times are really hard now, with the economic turmoil meaning more and more pets being abandoned.  I know from talking to everyone else involved in animal rescue that it’s the same story everywhere, with too many dogs (and cats) needing help and no space or homes for them.  We can only just hope and pray for an end to the current situation or there will be many more homeless pets.

The older dogs at my Lamma house have just been given a wonderful gift.  Some new  residents have just moved in to the bayand are busy renovating and throwing out furniture, including several beds.  Well, you know the saying about one man’s trash being another man’s treasure.  I know that a soft mattress will make the dogs very happy, and the beds downstairs are rearranged to accomodate a double matress which fits perfectly on a bare sofa bed base. Big Sooty, now head dog since Johnnie’s death, is the first to try it out and he is more than satisfied.  A few other senior dogs are allowed to join him (doglets need not apply), and in the 24 hours that the bed has been in place Sooty and the others have hardly moved off it.  I don’t suppose it will be long before the doglets rip it to shreds, but for now I have some very contented dogs. 

I can’t help but compare the lives of the dogs that are either on Lamma or at our Pokfulam kennels with the fate of those dogs that weren’t lucky enough to find a home with us.  There are so many of them, as I know from the constant stream of calls and emails.  It’s just too sad and for now there’s no end in sight.

To help us save more dogs’ lives, click here to make a donation.


3 Responses to “Tuesday 7th July: Winners and losers”

  1. Caroline B Says:

    Glad to hear that you are microchipped Sally so that if you ever get lost or try to run away your registered owner (Sooty I guess?) will be able to reclaim you.

  2. DL Says:

    Not only is your rescuing of dogs admirable, your little stories of individual dogs are most interesting and are such eye-openers! And your place at Lamma Island is now becoming almost mystical to me – I wish I could head there and meet the swarm of dogs and watch how they interact.

    • Sally Says:

      Every one of the dogs on Lamma has a story, even if they came to me as puppies (as most of them did). They grow into such distinct personalities as they change from puppy to doglet to adult, really only settling into their individual characters when the are fully mature at around 18 months. My own input really has very little, or nothing, to do with how they turn out, or how they fit it. The decisions about who fits where in the pecking order are made entirely amongst the dogs themselves. I’m really just an observer, and watching the dogs and their interaction is how I learned about dog behaviour. It’s though watching the dogs that I know how to approach and handle the timid and terrified dogs that I have to deal with, and also how I learned that respect isn’t gained by threats and bullying, rather by an unspoken understanding. When I watch the top dog, I don’t see him (or her) use threats or violence to get the best bed or the toy of choice. The dogs just know, in the same way that they know that I’m top of the tree.

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