Bi­man bids adieu

He was born to shep­herd his hu­man through life’s dif­fi­cul­ties.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

ONE of the tough­est things to do in life is say­ing our fi­nal good­byes to the ones we love most. Last week I found my­self in such a tragic and painful mo­ment.

My nine-and-a-half-year-old Ger­man Shep­herd Dog (GSD), Bi­man III, died most un­ex­pect­edly of a very se­ri­ous con­di­tion called “bloat” where the stom­ach is over­stretched by ex­ces­sive gas, caus­ing low blood pres­sure, shock and dam­age to the in­ter­nal or­gans.

It is be­lieved by some ex­perts to be the sec­ond lead­ing killer of dogs af­ter can­cer, es­pe­cially among GSDs, Great Danes and Dober­manns.

Bi­man was also re­cov­er­ing from tick fever at the time.

Bi­man III was born in Klang, Se­lan­gor. He came into my life in 2004 as a happy-golucky pup at nine weeks old.

It was at a crit­i­cal pe­riod when I was still hurt­ing and de­pressed over the loss of my pre­vi­ous shep­herd, seven-year-old Bi­man II, which had suc­cumbed to can­cer six months ear­lier.

I was des­per­ately look­ing for a wor­thy suc­ces­sor to Bi­man II, an out­stand­ing canine and one of my first ser­vice dogs.

On the day that I adopted Bi­man III, I caught him pee­ing on the floor in­side the breeder’s of­fice! It was love at first sight for me, as far as I was con­cerned. The rather re­bel­lious na­ture au­da­ciously dis­played by the black and tan pup would add some much needed colour and life into my mun­dane ex­is­tence, I fig­ured.

As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more right about my re­la­tion­ship with Bi­man III.

Our bond­ing be­gan im­me­di­ately.

On the first cou­ple of nights Bi­man howled for his sis­ters and his mum. But he soon set­tled down with his new fam­ily, which in­cluded my se­nior ser­vice dogs, a Rot­tweiler and a golden retriever that have since passed on.

Bi­man un­der­stood and saw my dis­abil­ity in re­mark­able and un­par­al­leled ways that few able-bod­ied per­sons ever did.

The first such sign was how quickly – and won­der­fully – he bonded with all of us.

There was, for in­stance, his first solo toi­let break: It was just a week since I’d adopted Bi­man and I was tak­ing him and the se­nior dogs out in the car; sud­denly, Bi­man be­gan in­di­cat­ing an un­con­trol­lable urge to pee so I made a quick de­tour to the near­est park.

As soon as I had opened the door, and be­fore I could leash him, to my horror the 10week-old pup scam­pered out into the open field about 3m away from the car to ease him­self.

With my wheel­chair tucked away in the boot (I had not been ex­pect­ing to use it), there was no way in which I could go out and get him. Then to my sur­prise and relief, in­stead of yield­ing to the temp­ta­tion to ex­plore his new sur­round­ings, Bi­man turned around and dashed back into the car to great big bear hugs from me and plenty of ap­prov­ing tail wags from the se­nior dogs in the back.

From then on, the novice ser­vice dog went on to ex­cel in al­most ev­ery part of his train­ing.

In just a few short weeks he man­aged to mas­ter the art of re­triev­ing ob­jects from any­where and bring­ing them to me – and I swear, it looked like the golden was vir­tu­ally green with envy at the pup’s ex­per­tise!

GSD ex­perts say the rea­son for the “shep­herd” in the breed’s name in­stead of “sheep dog” is its uncanny abil­ity to do things with­out hav­ing to be told how and when to do so.

Once, a friend showed to me a bot­tle of dog sham­poo in his home. Just as we were about to leave, Bi­man as­tounded us both by leap­ing out of my car, find­ing the item, and bring­ing it to me – per­haps he though my friend was be­ing self­ish in not giv­ing it to me!

At home, Bi­man killed ev­ery cock­roach be­cause of my pho­bia for them. And he never failed to sit by the bath­room door ev­ery time I was in­side in case I dropped some­thing or fell down and needed help get­ting back on the chair.

Even dur­ing his fi­nal days with high fever, Bi­man would pick him­self up and sol­dier on with his du­ties even when I didn’t want him to.

My baby was so at­tached to me that even af­ter suf­fer­ing bloat, he hung on to his life for sev­eral hours un­til I re­turned home so that he could have a fi­nal glimpse of me.

Bi­man dashed out of his crate and ran to­wards me – as he al­ways does dur­ing a thun­der­storm. He al­ways thought I had great pow­ers to com­mand the light­ning and thun­der to stop. Ex­cept that this time, all the “tur­bu­lence” was hap­pen­ing right in­side of him.

Bi­man col­lapsed right in front of me, next to my wheel­chair, where I hope he had al­ways found peace and refuge.

We rushed Bi­man to the Gas­ing Ve­teri­nary Hos­pi­tal in Pe­tal­ing Jaya within 10 min­utes where as many as four ve­teri­nary sur­geons and three as­sis­tants fought hard to save him.

But God had other plans for a pre­cious shep­herd of a dog that un­flinch­ingly gave his very best to me.

Bi­man III breathed his last at 8.20pm on Wed­nes­day last week with our best hu­man buddy, An­drew Martin, by his side.

Good­bye Bi­man: The colum­nist in­tro­duc­ing his se­nior ser­vice dog Soo (left) to the lat­est ad­di­tion to the fam­ily, bi­man III, in 2004.

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