RIP: Gummy Bear

About nine months ago or so, my wife found a dog that was waiting to die at a shelter. He was scheduled to be put down that day, because he was old, sick and wasn’t expected to live more than another two months anyway. She felt sorry for him and took him home, so his last few months of life could be spent somewhere comfortable, where he could have good food and companionship. It was obvious the dog had been mistreated and probably neglected in the past. He had weird habits. At night he wound run to the bathroom and hide behind the toilet. He stayed under the bed most of the time and only came out to eat.

Gummy Bear (we called him that because he had no teeth left) never stopped being weird, but he bulked up and became fairly healthy. He was still mostly blind and bumped into things regularly but his walking improved. He was with us for about nine months and then, just as I was coming home form a trip to Israel, he started having issues. When I got home, my wife was at work and Gummy Bear was under the bed, as usual. Before I’d even taken my coat off, I smelled urine and saw a puddle edging out from under the bed. He peed and laid down in it. I put him in the tub and cleaned everything up and then took him out for a walk. The next few days we woke up to the smell of urine coming from under the bed and then he started crapping blood both inside and outside the apartment.

Gummy Bear had tumors and maybe cancer and I guess old age finally caught up with him. So, we took him to animal control to have him put down today.

So long, pal. I guess I’ll just have to walk myself in the morning and evenings now.

Rockefeller Center and the Christmas Tree for 2013

My wife and I went to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular yesterday night and while we were in the area we decided to look around Rockefeller Center. There are Christmas lights up already, which is nice, and the tree is already in place, but it is surrounded by scaffolding. Judging by the pile of branches on the ground nearby, the tree is being trimmed and shaped prior to being decorated for the holiday season. Maybe I’m just getting used to being around tall structures, but the tree doesn’t look as big as usual this year.

We also walked past the NBC today studio set. It was closed up for the night, but it was still interesting to look in and see where the teleprompters are read.

NBC News Studio by Rockefeller Center
NBC News Studio by Rockefeller Center
Looking into the NBC Studio news set from outside.
Looking into the NBC Studio news set from outside.

I didn’t know Christie’s, the auction house, was by Rockefeller Center, but we saw that too. The big balloon dog sculpture in front of the entrance is pretty cool. I sort of wish there were miniature versions so I could buy one and keep it on a shelf.

Balloon Dog Sculpture at Christie's Auction House
Balloon Dog Sculpture at Christie’s Auction House
A close-up of the balloon dog sculpture.
A close-up of the balloon dog sculpture.
Christie's Auction House window displays.
Christie’s Auction House window displays.

Sometimes A Dog Just Has To Go, Unfortunately

Owning a dog in Singapore, as in any city, has to be a real pain in the butt.  It’s something that I intend to never try myself.  If I don’t have a yard I don’t want a dog.  In fact, even with a yard, I wouldn’t want a dog because I’m sure that involves hours of scouting the yard and cleaning up dog turds.  That’s just not something I’m willing to do.  Cats area easier for me.  You just clean the litter box every day.  Sure, it’s still scooping turds but at least I don’t have to play hide-and-seek with them in a lawn.

Anyhow, I often wonder how it is that people in Singapore can maintain dogs.  They have to be walked regularly and the messes they leave are supposed to be cleaned up, though I’ve seen personally that sometimes that’s not the case.  Most dogs are large and the HDBs are small relative to their size.  They can be incredibly noisy when barking at people or noises that they don’t like.  They eat a lot!  Still, I see quite a few people with large dogs in tow walking around the HDB estates and I think it’s great that some people have the patience and love for dogs that allow them to keep up with them and offer them a home.

I also think it’s admirable when someone takes on the responsibility of a grown dog.  That offers a unique set of a challenges.  In addition to the normal routine of caring for the dog, you have to try to integrate the dog into your household.  Dogs have a pack mentality and, having been raised elsewhere, the person they recognize as the Alpha Male won’t be present in your home.  That requires a new person to assert authority and let the pet know who’s in charge.  Personally I have no idea how to go about that, but I do have some experience with what can happen when things go wrong.

I room with a local family that adopted a grown dog.  When the dog arrived everyone was very thrilled to see him.  He was treated well.  Time was taken to play with him and walk him.  He wasn’t scolded when doing something wrong.  He was allowed to have fun.  Somehow, things went bad.  The dog became overly aggressive not only towards people outside the house, but towards people inside the house as well.

After a while, the family stopped walking the dog.  I don’t know the full story behind that, because it wasn’t any of my business, but given the later track record I imagine it’s because he was prone to trying to attack unfamiliar people.  He was so bad about trying to attack outsiders that the front door had to be kept closed because he would stick his head through the front gate and try to get at the people walking by.  Instead, they would keep him in his kennel until he used a tray for his business and then he was allowed out to run through the house.

Later, he started going after people in the house as well.  It seemed to me that as long as you let him do whatever he wanted, things were fine, but the moment you tried to shoo him away, or take something from him that you didn’t want him to chew on, he would attack rather than comply.  Some of you may remember my post where he attacked me and bit my arm for trying to take a work shirt away from him that I didn’t want chewed to shreds.  I wasn’t the only one that had this experience with him.

His behavior became more and more … touchy… I guess you’d call it.  He would glare at people as they walked by in an evil way that gave me the creeps coming from a dog.  Eventually it got to the point that no one wanted to closely interact with him for fear of being bitten.  It was even a harrowing experience walking past his kennel at night to get to the trash chute.  He had to be kept in the kennel at night or he would urinate and defecate all over the house.  I wound up trying to avoid him as much as possible.  I didn’t really want anything to do with him before, and I certainly didn’t after he bit my arm.  I told him, “[Dog], we can’t be friends anymore.  I’m afraid our relationship is over.”

So, in the end he made himself into a menace, a threat to health and safety.  There’s nothing fun about having an animal in your house that is more likely to bite you unexpectedly than not.  There’s also nothing fun about getting to know an animal and then having to send it away because it couldn’t integrate properly into your household.  Despite his rather aggressive personality, I guess I’d gotten used to him being around.  The house seems quiet without him here.

If you’re wondering, the dog was picked up by the SPCA.  I came home one day and was alerted by the maid as to what had happened.  Even though I really don’t like the dog, I’m sort of glad I gave him an ice cube the day before he was hauled away.  I don’t know why but he really liked ice cubes and would come to the kitchen whenever he heard the rattle of the ice tray.

Hopefully someone will find him there and have better luck with him.  If not, I hate to think of the alternative, but I suppose there was little choice.  How can you, in good conscience, give away an aggressive animal to another person, since it may harm them?

When Dogs Go Wild: A Singapore Misadventure

The afternoon was pretty much like any other.  I was getting ready to go out to dinner when I realized that I needed to wash a load of laundry.  So, I went down to the laundry area with my basket, sorted the clothes into piles, put in a load and started it up.  When I turned around to put everything else back into the basket I noticed the dog trying to chew on a piece of my wife’s clothing.

So, this is where things got a bit ugly.  It was a bit shocking too, since it was so unexpected and happened so fast.  I picked up the end that was sticking out of his mouth and gave it a little tug, but he wasn’t letting go.  I told him, “Let go!” and gave another little tug.  Then he growled and before I realized what was going on, the dog had let go and had clamped down on my arm.  I yelled, partially in pain and partially in surprise and gave a yank to get free of him.  His bite was brutally hard and as I got my arm free I gave him a good solid whack to get him away from me.

Then I was looking down at my disaster of an arm.  If you look closely you can see the imprints of his teeth towards the left of the obviously broken skin.


The maid rushed out and quickly hustled the dog into its kennel and then looked at my arm.  She insisted that I should go see a doctor and called the homeowner.  After hearing what happened, the homeowner also insisted I go.  I was a bit reluctant, and my stomach had been growling just previous to this incident, so I washed the wound and put some alcohol on it and got something to eat while waiting to hear from my wife.  After my wife heard what happened she told me to stop being hardheaded and just see the doctor.  So… I complied.

The polyclinic in Pasir Ris near our place was closed, as it was about 6 PM, so my wife suggested we meet in Tampines and go to a polyclinic there. Unfortunately I wasn’t paying much attention and got on the right bus, but going in the wrong direction.  I hopped on the 81 all ready to go and then after about 20 minutes I realized I was in Serangoon instead of Tampines.

After switching buses and getting a good seat on the upper deck of the 72 heading to Tampines Interchange my iPhone unexpectedly gave me the finger.  Without the usual 20% battery warning it simply shut itself down and told me to plug it in when I tried to restart it.  I could’ve sworn that thing had read at 80% battery before I left the house.  Just not my day.  I felt a bit naked without access to my iPhone and it made it worse that I was holding it in my hand but couldn’t do anything with it.  I considered asking a girl using her laptop if I could plug my phone in, but that would have been a bit ridiculous.  Not to mention I didn’t have the USB cable with me anyway.  Oh iPhone, you’ve spoiled me.

Luckily my wife was waiting right where the bus dropped me off at the interchange, so I didn’t have to spend a lot of time wandering around looking for her in our typical meeting spots.  We made our way to the clinic that’s just across the street from Tampines 1.  It’s called Healthway Tampines Central Clinic.  If any of you guys ever get hurt and you’re in the Tampines area, I really recommend this place.  The staff was all very courteous and warm, especially the doctor, Dr. Vivien Ang.  She made the process a lot more pleasant than it could have been.

I wound up getting the wound cleaned and bandaged.


Then I got jabbed with a tetanus shot.  Hadn’t had one of those in a while!  I also got some Curam 625 mg antibiotics that look like horse pills.  The things are massive.  I thought I was going to gag on the first one.  I’ll have to start breaking them in half.  I also got some Bactroban mupirocin, which is antibiotic cream.

I was kinda worried about rabies, but the dog is a house dog, not a stray, and looks healthy enough.  I also found out that rabies has been wiped out in Singapore.  The last case was in 1953, before Singapore was even an independent country.  That’s a relief!  Oh, and just as an odd coincidence, that last case of rabies was a human case involving a Caucasian man.

One positive thing I can take away from this is that Singapore’s health care system is very affordable, at the polyclinic level at least.  I have no experience with Singapore’s major hospitals, but my bill was small.  Very small.  Especially when I think about how much the same care would’ve cost me in the US.  We’re talking a difference of hundreds of dollars here.  Most of that would’ve been taxes and surcharges and inflated medication prices.  I know this is off-topic, but I hope that whatever Obama’s doing gets the healthcare industry under control in the US.  If it’s possible to have cheap, quality healthcare in Singapore the same should be true of the US.

This also gave me a deeper appreciation for my cats.  They may be snotty sometimes, or aloof, but they’re also very affectionate, very cute, and they don’t try to gnaw my arm off!

I never was much of a dog person to begin with, though there are some small ones I don’t mind, like the one I saw in Thailand, but now I suppose I like them even less.  I know it’s not right to judge all dogs based on the actions of one dog, but I suppose this last photo can kinda sum up my feelings towards dogs right now: