Thursday October 4, 2012
Lessons from furry friends
WHEEL POWER by ANTHONY THANASAYAN
On World Animal Day today, let us celebrate the immense contributions of animals towards man and society.
TODAY is World Animal Day. It’s that special occasion to pause for a moment and reflect on the immense contribution of animals to mankind as well as the need to respect, cherish and protect all animals.
For me personally, no other animal has impacted my life more than dogs. My interactions with canines have taught me some of life’s most insightful and invaluable lessons.
Here are some of the significant lessons taught by my trusty canines:
> Think outside the box: That’s literally what Vai, my eight-week-old Rottweiler, did when I bought him from a pet shop. He ripped open the box that he was placed in and leapt into my arms, licking me all over the face. It was great for once to have a “stranger” who was not spooked by my wheelchair.
> No bad dogs: Just like disabilities, working dogs such as Rotties, Dobermans and German Shepherds also suffer stigma because of ignorance. I was warned by some people that Vai was the “wrong choice” as he would “drag me off my wheelchair” or “have me for supper”.
The truth was in all the 13 wonderful years I had him until his death, Vai was the best “mistake” I had ever made. He was the gentlest and kindest huggy bear I ever had. By caring for him, I inadvertently learnt to care for myself too. The only “fault” Vai had was that he never realised his growing size. He kept trying to leap into my lap and snooze in his favourite nap spot which is under my wheelchair. But it was too small for the lovable bear-sized dog.
> He ain’t disabled, he’s my brother: I can recall hundreds of instances when my dogs made me laugh and uncannily touched my life over the years. Like the time when Vai saved me from an army of frenzied ants that were all over my paralysed legs. I was in a park and did not realise that I had rested my legs on an ant’s nest!
Then there was a time when Vai woke me up when I unknowingly messed up my bed because of a tummy upset. Who can forget the time when Biman II, my German Shepherd, amazingly found the keys to my house and handed them to me at the gate after I had locked myself out?
Or the time when Biman III, my present German Shepherd, ran out of my car towards an open field. He was barely eight weeks old then and needed to pee. As soon as it was over, he ran all the way back to my car and leapt in, much to my relief. How could a pup of such a young age understand that I couldn’t run after him?
Then there’s Reba, my Sheltie. I’ll always be grateful to her for spotting – in the nick of time – a particularly nasty pressure sore on my foot. I was rushed into surgery and hospitalised for nine days. Had it been any later, I would be an amputee by now. Of course, the real star in my home right now is a Doberman named Zhar, who is almost two years old.
He’s the perfect assistant for any wheelchair user. He retrieves virtually anything that drops on the floor. From shaving creams and combs to portable urinals and even business cards – Zhar’s the dog for the job. All one needs to say is “Service” and the 43kg Doberman will leap to his feet and be at your command.
> Live and let die ... and life goes on. Parting is always the hardest thing to do. I’ve had to put to sleep some of my best canine companions. In most cases, it was because of cancer. The latest case involved a Golden Retriever named Soo. He was unable to move and eat because of old age.
As a responsible pet owner, it is our duty to ensure that our best friends do not suffer when the time comes to say goodbye. It’s the least we can do for them after all that they have done for us. My canines have taught me that life goes on nonetheless and new angels with tails will step in to fill their predecessors’ place. Until we all meet again across the rainbow bridge.
A blessed World Animal Day to everyone!