SINGAPORE — The story of a stray puppy rescued from the forests of Pasir Ris has gone viral on popular animal content website The Dodo, with more than 55,000 shares since it was reposted on Facebook on Monday (15 March).
In the video, Oh Chin Ying, 27, tells the story of how he stumbled upon a "severely emaciated" Singapore Special in April 2019. Oh, who had just finished university, had time on his hands and had gone to the area to feed other strays.
Just as he was about to leave, he caught a glimpse of a "black mass" in a drain about 100 metres away. He climbed the railing for a closer look.
Oh, who works in advertising and had previously rescued strays in Seoul and Shanghai, told Yahoo News Singapore via email, "It was the smallest puppy I’ve ever seen, lying on its side and unable to get up."
"It looked really weak, and the only indicator that it was alive was that its eyes were open and staring straight at me."
With dark clouds forming – "It looked like rain was going to come any moment and wash her away" – Oh picked up the pooch and rushed her to the nearest vet. There, he was told that the six-week-old puppy, who had likely not eaten in days, had only a 40 per cent chance of survival.
She was diagnosed with tick fever, was highly anemic and had a red blood cell count of just 19, well below the healthy range of 35.
"He (the veterinarian) even said to me, 'Don’t be surprised if you wake up tomorrow and she’s gone.'"
That first night, Oh's girlfriend Chen Meihui, 27, rushed over to his flat to help. The couple improvised a makeshift bed with a towel and drawer for the dog, whom Oh named Rosie. "She was just lying flat, too weak to move."
It was touch and go for the next two days as the couple kept Rosie warm with towels and gave her lots of food and water. The turning point came on day three, when the mongrel was able to lift her head up and was "smiling consistently".
Rosie then improved gradually till, on day 10, she started walking on her own. In between, there were multiple visits to the vet, which saw her medical bills come up to $1,000. The couple then launched an Instagram appeal for donations, and raised enough money for her treatment within 24 hours.
Eventually, she started playing fetch with her toys and learning new tricks. "At this point, I think she had finally built up enough energy to show her real personality, a puppy that just wants to play."
Asked if he thinks Rosie was abandoned, Oh expressed his doubts. "We think she was born in the forest with the rest of her siblings, and she got left behind when the pack migrated. (She) wandered around for days without food before ending up in the canal."
And while Oh was clear from the start that he wanted to adopt Rosie, he needed the green light from his family.
Fortunately, they had all fallen in love with her too. Even his mother, who had a strict 'no pets in the household' policy, told him, “We’re keeping her.”
Today, Rosie is a healthy two-year old. She weighs 15kg, a far cry from her initial weight of 1.6kg when she was found. The couple take her out on weekends to pet-friendly cafes and dog runs, and her favourite treat is boiled chicken.
"We can’t believe just two years ago she was fighting to survive, and now she’s the happiest, most carefree dog she could be," said Chen, who works in public relations. "We are so happy that she persevered when the odds were against her, and that she’s a fighter. We genuinely do not know what we would do without her."
Oh said, "But at the same time, we are also very aware that Rosie is one of the lucky ones, and that it was sheer luck and good timing that I was in the area that day to rescue her."
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