PG 64 PAW-RENT DIARY

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - By Gil­lian Lim

Tales of a he­li­copter paw-rent.

it’s been 10 months since Bobby the Pug joined the fam­ily, and yes, paw-rent­hood is as glo­ri­ous as the In­ter­net paints it out to be. The minute I come home, Bobby dashes as fast as his stubby legs can take him to greet me with slob­bery kisses. Our pre­vi­ously quiet home is now filled with happy snort­ing and the tell­tale pit­ter-pat­ter of his paws as he scouts each room. There’s zero pri­vacy now be­cause the fatty needs to know where we are at all times—and he’s so adorable we just let him. There’s just one thing that the In­ter­net left out: The over­whelm­ing anx­i­ety that comes with be­ing a new paw-rent.

New­born babe

Al­though Bobby is six years old, I think of him as a baby, I mean puppy. He was an ex-breed­ing dog, so he spent al­most his en­tire life cooped up in a cage. I knew that a do­mes­tic life was new to Bobby, but it never oc­curred to me that I would have to teach my pup what a bed or leash was, or that toys, the hu­man touch, and kind­ness were things he didn’t have to be afraid of. I be­lieved he was frag­ile, im­pres­sion­able and needed our con­stant sur­veil­lance and guid­ance, so I set out to be the most nur­tur­ing paw-rent I could pos­si­bly be. I lit­er­ally hov­ered over him while he de­voured his kib­ble be­cause I wanted to make sure he was eating (that clearly wasn’t the is­sue); I spent half an hour every night pet­ting him to sleep; and I man­u­ally moved his paws when he was afraid to go for walks.

Go­ing to work was a ter­ri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause the Bob­ster would be all alone at home. What if he gnawed on our din­ing chairs or shred­ded the couch? Did he know that his water bowl was right be­side him? Did he know he was in a safe space now? I re­mem­ber can­celling all my ap­point­ments for the first two weeks af­ter we brought Bobby home, so I could spend time with him. On the rare oc­ca­sion that I brought him out for a play­date and he was out of my line of sight for a minute, I’d ask

in a panic: “Where is my dog?”

Af­ter three peace­ful, un­event­ful months passed, I eased my­self into paw-rent­hood. That’s when catas­tro­phe struck.

The chok­ing in­ci­dent

Last Novem­ber, I re­ceived a WHAT­SAPP mes­sage from my brother who was on Bobby duty that evening: “Next time when we’re feed­ing Bobby, we need to be present and we need to feed him in small por­tions.”

As usual, our greedy Pug wolfed down din­ner at light­ning speed the minute my brother put his food bowl on the floor. To us, this was a nor­mal oc­cur­rence. He had choked on a hand­ful of kib­ble here and there, but it was noth­ing he couldn’t re­gur­gi­tate. As my brother stood up to walk away, Bobby’s en­tire body sud­denly stiff­ened and top­pled to the side with his legs awk­wardly stick­ing out. He wasn’t breath­ing or cough­ing, and that’s when my brother dove in to do the Heim­lich ma­noeu­vre on our dog. Af­ter a fu­ri­ous round of tug­ging, Bobby let out a tiny gasp of air, vom­ited a huge chunk of dry food all over his feet, sat there qui­etly and qui­etly licked his face.

I im­me­di­ately bought a slow feeder for Bobby, but it was an epic fail. In his des­per­ate at­tempts to stuff his face with food, he ended up in­hal­ing the kib­ble in­stead. We tossed out the feeder. Now, we soak his kib­ble or feed him small por­tion by small por­tion—of course with some­one hov­er­ing over him through­out his en­tire meal­time.

The onion episode

You’d have thought that three months af­ter the chok­ing in­ci­dent, we’d have learnt our les­son and kept any­thing ed­i­ble out of Bobby’s reach, but we con­ve­niently for­got about a bas­ket of onions, gar­lic and chives on our kitchen floor.

I had gone for a short trip to Malaysia with my mum to visit our rel­a­tives, so Bobby was left in the care of my dad and my brother. While I was play­ing a rowdy game of mahjong, I saw my phone light up with a text mes­sage from Dad: “Bobby snuck into the kitchen and ate al­most a whole onion.” Onions can pur­port­edly cause a dog’s red blood cells to rup­ture, which may re­sult in anaemia and possible or­gan fail­ure. I started freak­ing out. Be­ing miles away from home didn’t help.

De­spite my dad’s in­sis­tence that Bob­ster looked fine, I or­dered my brother to bring him to the vet right away. “Bring the onion along so the vet knows how much he ate,” I com­manded. An hour later, my brother was re­port­ing to us live from the vet clinic. The clinic was packed, but once the vet took a look at the onion, Bobby got to skip the long queue and had vom­it­ing in­duced to purge the tox­ins. Af­ter the or­deal, my brother sent us a photo of the fatty hap­pily walk­ing out of the clinic, tongue out and tail wag­ging.

Know­ing that these near-death ac­ci­dents hap­pened when I wasn’t home, I am in­clined to believe that I am Bobby’s good luck charm. Need­less to say, our kitchen’s had a makeover since to en­sure any­thing vaguely ed­i­ble is out of Bobby’s reach.

Let it go

For the long­est time, my co-work­ers had been ask­ing me to bring Bobby to the of­fice. But I was anx­ious. “Bobby is still very scared of un­fa­mil­iar places and loud sounds,” I said. When I fi­nally brought the lit­tle guy to work, I couldn’t help feel­ing like a Mum send­ing her lit­tle one off to school for the first time. I shad­owed him around the of­fice so he didn’t feel afraid, and I made him sit in a chair be­side me when I couldn’t keep an eye on him. I even half-joked that I should put a bell on Bobby’s col­lar so I’d know where he was every sin­gle mo­ment of the day. De­spite my para­noia, my col­leagues as­sured me that my wor­ries were un­founded. “He’s so cu­ri­ous and con­fi­dent. You’re such a he­li­copter paw-rent,” a col­league teased. That set me think­ing: “Was this all in my head? Look at the fatty tak­ing a nap in the sun. Maybe the anx­i­ety was re­ally un­war­ranted. Maybe I should take a chill pill... or maybe I should get a CCTV to spy on Bobby while I’m at work.” Af­ter all, no mat­ter how old he gets, my first furkid will al­ways be my baby.

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