Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Journey – Learning basic dog training skills By Mary Chye

When a fellow volunteer asked if I would be interested to learn how to train dogs, little did I know I would be gaining more then just a skill. In the process of learning, I gained new understanding on how to handle dogs, experienced the joy in seeing dogs growing up and getting adopted out as well as gaining new friends from Noah’s Ark.

The purpose of getting a group of volunteers to acquire the knowledge was to equip us with the ability to train new dogs to become accustomed to basic commands to sit, lie down and walk with the owner. The training would also help the dog to learn how to focus on the person it is being with. We believe that this would improve the adoptability of any dog. Throughout the training sessions, we have seen 2 puppies and 1 adult dog being adopted. We would like to think that the training helped the dogs be more sociable and comfortable with new people and thus allowed them to be more easily adopted out.

In my journey of learning, I got to know three dogs who were later adopted. This story takes us through some parts of the journey of Bubbles, a black and brown mongrel. Bubbles was rescued near King Albert Park with his brother, a brown mongrel named Squeaky under a tree. Adrian, one of the trainers from APawz told me that Bubbles is an intelligent little fellow and to my amazement, he was so right.


Whoever said that pedigrees are better then mongrels or mutts obviously have never experienced first hand being with one. The intelligence and energy in each of these little bodies are amazing. Perhaps it is the survival instincts having been living on the streets for a while but each one of the dogs I have gotten to know have not stopped amazing me.

Bubbles would observe what the trainer does and what the desired behavior is. Within a few attempts, he could perform the task beautifully. Of course, it helped that Bubbles is very food oriented and that puppies pick skills up faster in general.

Since Bubbles and Squeaky did not stay with us, two of us were tasked to alternate the dogs in each lesson so that the dogs do not get too attached to one of us. This is also to help facilitate the adoption process so that the puppy is accustomed to more then 1 handler and he can blend into a new family faster.

What fascinated me as well was how fast a puppy would grow. With each week of lesson, both of them would grow enough to make us gasp in amazement. I still remember carrying Bubbles around the house during the first few weeks. By the next month, carrying him became harder and harder.

When the news of both Bubbles & Squeaky being adopted came to my ears, I was both happy and sad. Happy that they have a new family but sad that I was not able to see both of them again so imagine the joy I felt when a fellow volunteer said that the new owners have agreed to let both of them come back for training and the new owner for Squeaky was even going to join us!

A few months into the training, Noah’s Ark held a Tea Party at Nyee Phoe Flower Garden. Bubbles, being the star student of the class, was nominated to go on stage to give a mini presentation on the skills he has acquired and since I have been the handler mostly, I was asked to be the one to give him the commands on stage.

On the day itself, I feared that Bubbles would not focus being in a foreign environment, amongst so many other dogs and new faces as well as food! Come on… even I was drawn to the food and the dogs got treats like durian muffins! Getting to the venue early, I brought him onto the stage many times, going through the general steps of sitting, lying down and heel work. I kept telling Bubbles that he would get his normal treats till he completed his performance and then I will get him the durian muffins that he was so attracted to.

Being the puppy that he is, he wanted to run everywhere, play with everyone and eat everything in sight! I kept bringing him for walks till it was time for us to go onto the stage. My fear came true slightly at that moment as we had to walk past the durian muffins table. One whiff of the aroma and Bubbles started towards the table! Luckily, I managed to get him onto the stage and he performed like a star!

As soon as he was off the stage, I went to get his muffin and he gobbled it up without hesitation. What I didn’t expect was that once he started munching on one muffin, he had to have more! As we walked around the tables, Bubbles vacuumed every scrap of food he could find. If I had a camera at that moment, I would have taken a picture of him, durian cream all over his muzzle! He looked so funny and I couldn’t help but laugh at how greedy he was! I guess he must have known he did a good job on stage and is getting his rewards!

Now that the training is well over, I will not have much opportunity to meet Bubbles. I do miss him at times but I am also glad that he has a permanent home now. He helped me to learn how to be a better trainer and taught me that mongrels are intelligent dogs with big hearts full of love and huge vacuum cleaner appetite!

Onwards with our quest to get more dogs adopted!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dogs in a ditch

Just a few weekends ago, a pair of female puppies was recently caught running amok outside NANAS. One of them was quite thin and had a large open wound on her tiny body. The volunteers who spotted her immediately sprang into action and were determined to catch her as she was clearly hurt. At that time, her sister was also with her, but unfortunately, she ignored the treats that were offered and ran out of the volunteer's reach. She was very adorable, with her pointed ears and huge eyes. Despite her short legs, she was certainly a fast runner and our volunteer (who was a marathoner) was also unable to catch up with her!

Instead, they turned around and concentrated their efforts on the injured puppy. When volunteers gave chase, the injured puppy panicked and ran right into a pipe that was located in the ditch outside NANAS. The water was disgusting, muddy and full of mosquitoes but the volunteers ignored it all as the plight of the puppy was on everyone's minds. Well, it was definitely not fun to be stuck in the ditch, trying to catch a puppy scared out of its wits. Everyone was trying their best to corner the puppy and towels were being thrown from one person to the other whenever the puppy ran in their direction. After much coaxing and having gained some trust, she was finally gathered up and bundled into a towel. Whilst hurrying towards the main lodge, the puppy was so frightened that she nipped one of the volunteers!

Once the puppy was brought into the clinic, all eyes were on her. The volunteers then proceeded to assist Raymund to clean her wounds. For most of them, it was their first time in the clinic whilst an operation was going on. It was a terrible sight as she had an open wound that was home to all sorts of bugs and disgusting creatures. The moment Raymund took the frontline spray and doused her whole body, it became a jumping flea circus. It seemed that the fleas got into every nook and cranny of her frail little body and as a result of the medication, it forced the infestation out. The volunteers were horrified and extremely sorry for the poor little puppy who had to live with the discomfort.

After assessing her injuries, Raymund said that she was likely scalded by hot oil as part of her fur was totally gone. After which, he gave her 2 jabs and sedated her for 30 minute in order to clean the wound. After dressing her wounds and ears were cleaned, she was placed into a cage to rest after an eventful day. Before driving back to Singapore, the volunteers decided to name her Scarlet.

*Latest update: Raymund has informed us he has managed to catch Scarlet’s sister. She fell face first down into the same muddy ditch and was immediately immobilized by the mud. What a sight! She has been named Charley and the pair have been recovering well within the sanctuary. Be sure to come by and say hi on your next visit!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank you for supporting our Kinako charity preview!

Dear friends of Noah's Ark,

Thank you for supporting Noah's Ark Cares in our third movie charity premiere. To all our kind sponsors and supporters who made this fund raising event possible, no words can express our heartfelt gratitude. To all our friends who bought the tickets - we thank you for your constantly ongoing support towards our cause. Without your generous assistance, Noah's Ark will not be where it is today.

Lucky Dip Giveaways

Goodie bag

We hope you had enjoyed the movie and a terrific night out whilst meeting new friends and speaking with fellow animal lovers. After the movie, we hope that many of you would be more appreciative towards your dogs. They bring you love and unconditional loyalty. They deserve to have that returned to them by an owner that loves them just as much. We will always be responsibile towards our pets that are very much part of our daily lives. If you do have a dog at home, do remember that you are the world to him/her, and you are very much obliged to take care of them for the rest of their lives.

Our president giving a speech

Thank you for joining us once again, for this special charity premiere. We look forward to seeing you soon at our future events! Stay tuned to our blog for more stories, events and updates.

As William Shakespeare put it, "What is the city but the people"? Likewise, what is Noah's Ark, without people like you?

Till the next time we meet, take care!

Best regards,
From all of us at Noah's Ark CARES

Beneficiary of Animal Merchandise :)

Noah's Ark CARES Supporters