March 14, 2015

It was the morning of my daughter's birthday when I first saw Brandon. He was limping from a distance at the end of the street looking frail, famished, and confused. I went in to get a bowl of water and when I returned, he was already resting himself under a tree. It was 32 celcius outside and looking at the way he dunked his face into the bowl, I knew I had to fix something from the kitchen. True enough, Brandon cleaned up the plate of rice and beef in record time.

He tried to walk away after gaining some energy but his hind legs were too weak. It looked like he’d been injured in an accident but I was too afraid to go closer. I appeal to dogs no more than fire hydrants do. Good thing my friend Shazni was there for the birthday party. Like a dog whisperer, he went closer to check on Brandon and calmed him down in an instant. It was at that moment that we knew Brandon was not a stray and might have had an owner once. He was tame, friendly, and did not spew dog profanities at me.

I called up my friend and seasoned rescuer Sherrina to get some SOPs in handling the poor fellow. It was obvious that he needed immediate medical attention, but we had zero experience in handling dogs. We have taken cats to the vet before but none of them were as big as Brandon. We were directed to Chandra who I had once engaged with in a cat rescue mission. She said be right there in a heartbeat, drove all the way from Ampang to Subang through Federal Highway Sunday afternoon traffic, and transported Brandon to a vet in Ara Damansara. I texted her later in the day to reimburse the fuel cost but her advice was to just use it for the vet bill.

At that point, all that mattered was for Brandon to be given the care and attention he needed. I was informed by the vet that Brandon is somewhere in his teens so in human years, Brandon is a retiree whose daily activities include reading the paper, watching the news, sleeping, or all three at once. His hips were not in good condition, so that explains the limping, but his blood test results were okay so internally, he was not doing too badly.

Taking Brandon to the vet was probably just the beginning of this episode. My plan was to get him to recover for a week, and then find a home or a suitable shelter for the guy. Whatever happens, he will definitely not go back to the streets; not in that condition. As the old animal rescue saying goes, however, rescuing is the easiest part. Rehoming or finding a shelter that is not already overwhelmed is always a huge challenge.

I called May, a rescuer whom I had met when she was looking for a lactating mother cat to nurse for an abandoned litter of newbown kittens. I wasn’t lactating at the time but happened to be fostering a mother cat. May directed me to Cherish Life Home, a shelter based in Hulu Langat and within minutes of speaking to Marianne, I was shown a lost dog poster from the same neighborhood. I received a call from Mrs. Au shortly after and upon matching the features of her lost dog with the one we had found, she was on her way to the vet to be reunited with Brandon.

It was the best ending we could have ever hoped for.

Today, Shazni and I paid Mrs. Au and Brandon a visit. He is 17 years old and for the past three months, has been on therapy for his hips which had gone weak from aging. After gaining the ability to walk, however, Brandon found his way out and made his way across the neighborhood to reach our area -- a good two to three miles away. Quite a distance for a dog who had just learned to walk again.

Brandon looked vibrant, energetic, and full of life. He barked loudly at us and only he knows if it was out of excitement or annoyance. Whatever it was for, we are just glad that he is back on his feet.


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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
Published Travels
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