Saturday, December 19, 2009

WEEKEND VIEW: My Canines Of The Year

WITH the year speeding to a grand finale, today’s column – one of my last few for 2009 – is about my favourite topic: what else but my darling dogs!

Here are some of the latest antics and adventures that I’ve been sharing with them.

1. Soo the Golden Retriever: Currently the eldest of my service dogs at age 11, the poor ol’ boy was recently down with a stomach and ear infections.

His medical woes, however, was nothing that the good animal doctors over at the Hartamas Veterinary Clinic in Kuala Lumpur could not fix in a jiffy.

As a result, Soo is now happily back and barking on all fours.

And the best part to the Golden’s recovery is that the clinic’s services came with virtually no cost.

I can’t tell you how incredibly helpful it is when veterinary clinics magnanimously come forward to help disabled and elderly pet owners in this way.

Special discounts or even complete waivers for special pet owners who really need help, is an excellent way in introducing, as well as help spread the unlimited benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in the country.

It is well-documented how pets in their role as special companions can often reach out much farther – and deeper – into the lives of disabled and elderly persons than any medical gadget, medication and professional can.

My life with my pets is a thumping testimonial of that.

I can also confirm similar inspiring stories of other handicapped persons and seniors through my volunteer work with Petpositive, a national non profit AAT society.

I have seen many lives make a complete U-turn from depression into positive living after their decision to a pet into their home.

They become better able to accept their disabilities, have more courage to face the future, stay focused and keep thoughts of depression at bay.

Veterinarians, pet food and care companies can also play a pivotal role in promoting AAT by exercising their social responsibilities.

Currently, popular brands like Eukanuba, Royal Canine and Blackwood have already started to support AAT through Petpositive.

One particular useful product is a tick control liquid called Frontline.

Disabled and elderly pet owners need only to spend a few seconds literally with the product and their dogs are kept safe from the horrible vermin for almost two months.

So who are the needy AAT recipients?

It is really not hard to develop an effective selection process as to who can qualify for such assistance.

Persons with a government disabled identification card (another reason for everyone to get registered) together with a doctor’s letter or an NGO like Petpositive or others will help to ensure that the good deeds done by benevolent companies and individuals are not misused.

With such support from all quarters, the joy and magic of owning pets and relating to them can also be shared by the disabled and elderly too who often get left out in public pet events.

Many of you will probably recall the numerous incredible tales – sometimes even derring-do outings that I’ve had with Soo in my wheelchair.

He has accompanied me to discussions with the government, at the United Nations building in KL and even at a delightful gathering with people with HIV and AIDS.

The most audacious was in a supermarket store with highly breakable items.

Not a single one in the end was accidently knocked over from the shelves by his bushy tail or body during our unannounced visit, leaving onlookers marvelling in amazement!

2) Biman III the Alsatian: The largest canine in the group, he still insists on sleeping under my wheelchair each night next to my bed since as a pup. But be not fooled as he is at all times alert with cocked ears, listening intently for anyone or anything on the prowl, whether inside or outside the house and even on the roof!

3) Zeus the “baby Alsatian”: Almost the size of Biman, the latest addition isn’t really a puppy anymore although he still thinks he is one. The cadet canine is now learning to observe the movements of a wheelchair by not getting his paw or tail caught in its direction.

4) Reba the Shetland Sheepdog: The only rose among the thorns, the Sheltie remains true to her calling. She treats all the dogs – including Top Dog (that’s me!) as if we were sheep and herds us back into the house with tiny nips whenever we try to get outside.

Reba darling is still the best weapon I have against the development of new pressure sores on my body. She zeroes in on them the second any part of my skin starts to break down.

Woof, woof! (Tail wags!)

For more information on AAT, please contact Petpositive at 012 220 3146.

The End

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