Dogs are man’s best friend.

We know that most pet owners would go to the ends of the earth just for their animals and vice versa, but I recently found that strangers too, would go out of their way to take care of these furry friends.

I’ve never had the misfortune of losing a dog, but then again, I’ve never had the fortune to own a pet, let alone a dog.

A dog requires a lot of commitment and care, I don’t think you guys are ready” My parents used to say to my siblings and me when we were younger.

But a couple of weeks ago I did, albeit for only 3 ½ hours.

I was on the way home in my family car when I spotted a dog running on the road as we were turning into the driveway. I quickly gestured to my mum to let me out of the car and I did the only thing I could think of to try to get it off the road.

I clapped at it.

I’ve always liked dogs, but as I was trying to get its attention, it suddenly dawned on me that I may just end up scaring the dog and it would bolt, or worse, turn violent. Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure about my decision, but I approached it nonetheless, beckoning to it and clapping from a distance.

Luckily, the dog was friendly and came running towards me happily. It was a fluffy, small-sized dog that looked like a papillon and pomeranian mix.

Okay, I thought to myself. I got the dog, now what?

For a while, I stood by the side of the road futilely asking passers-by if the dog belonged to them. When it became clear that the owner was nowhere to be found, I carried it back to my block of flats where my mum was waiting.

Friendly Pomeranian
The dog was really friendly. Image source: Faith Lee

At that time, the dog still looked to be very happy and excited to be around people and I remembered wondering whether it was a runaway or an abandoned dog. Judging from how well-groomed and happy the dog was, I guessed it probably ran away and still thought it was on an adventure.

“I didn’t have the slightest idea what to do”

Then I noticed a bit of a smell. And my mum casually pointed out that it had some poop stuck to its fur.
“Should we ignore it? Should we clean it up?” I asked my mum. I have never even picked up dog poop before.

We figured that since we didn’t have a leash or anything to keep the dog in, we had to keep her in perilously close proximity. Therefore, we had no other choice but to spend about an hour cleaning it up while hoping that the owner would show. No one came forward.

By this time, it was almost night and I slowly realised that I did not have the slightest idea of what to do with a lost dog, nor did I know how to care for one. My parents have a strict no-pets rule in the house so keeping the dog with me for a night or two until the owner claimed it was not an option.

In an attempt to find its owner, my mum suggested getting a vet to check for a microchip. I called the nearest one and they were about to close but agreed to stay open for a little while longer while we rushed over. With the help of the staff, we were able to get a microchip number, but not the owner’s particulars.

“We’re a step closer. I guess.” I thought.

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We went to a nearby pet shop to get a leash so we didn’t have to carry the dog with us everywhere we went. After hearing our story, the woman there not only offered me a leash for free, she went a step further and put up a “missing dog” post on the shop’s Facebook page . She also gave us advice on how to identify its rightful owner.

U S Pet Shop
A screenshot of the pet shop’s Facebook post. Image source: Faith Lee

It was 9pm by then. I had a leash and I had a microchip number but I had another problem: I needed to find a place for the dog to stay overnight.

After I got home, I called Animal & Veterinary Services (or AVS, previously known as AVA) to ask for advice or to get someone to pick up the dog.

However, just before the officer from AVS arrived, a family friend called me to tell me that she was on the way to pick the dog, and was willing to take care of it until its owner claimed it.

Problem solved, it seemed, but just as the family friend was arriving, a domestic helper came and called out to the dog. Claiming that it was her family’s dog, she showed us photos of the dog and told me that its name is Munchy.

Munchy looked excited to see her, but then again, that seemed to be the dog’s default setting when it met anyone so I asked her to verify the microchip number.

She didn’t know the number but she called an elderly man and his son and they could. I found out that they lived at the opposite block and that the dog had run out of the flat while the elderly man was watering his plants.

After three and a half hours (it seemed longer), I could finally tell everyone who chipped in to help me that we had found the owners!

An unexpected outcome

Prima Deli Cake
The elderly man searched my block of flats with a cake to try to find me to thank me for finding Munchy. Image source: Faith Lee

A few days later, I was having dinner at home when I heard an unfamiliar sound of a walking stick tap-tapping along my corridor.

Being the kaypoh that I am, I stuck my head out to see who it was and spotted Munchy’s elderly owner. We chatted for a while and I discovered that he had been walking around my block trying to find my unit as his helper couldn’t remember exactly where I lived. He gave me a cake as a gesture of appreciation for finding Munchy.

Having someone his age, with his walking difficulties, actually take the effort to look for me and thank me personally, when he could have just asked his helper to do it, touched me immensely.

It is not in my nature to ask for help as I didn’t like to bother others but looking back, reuniting the uncle with his lost pet was only possible with the help of strangers that I met along the way.

From the understanding veterinary assistants (who didn’t charge us for staying open late and checking the microchip) at Animal Practice, to the helpful officer at AVS, to the kind lady at U S Pet House and other friends and strangers who offered their assistance, thank you.

From this experience, I learnt that there are certain things that I wouldn’t be able to do alone, yet is of no trouble to others. Asking for help allows others a chance to show a bit of kindness. And that brightens up the day for everyone.

Singaporeans are a caring bunch, all you need to do is ask. You’ll be surprised how many people will be willing to lend a hand. Even for a lost doggo.

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