Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Death Row

The reality for stray dogs here is that they are rounded up routinely and sent to the pound. Rescuers and animal lovers get frantic trying to help. But like a rescuer friend of mine said, you can help one batch but then there is another and another. One solution is to spay/neuter strays to control stray population.

The number of fosterers and adopters are few. Most people prefer to buy animals which are pure breeds from the shops. Pet shops are the public face of puppy farms.  Businesses only make a profit if their expenses are less than their revenue. Unfortunately this is prioritised over the health, happiness and welfare of the animal. There have been many reports of the cruelty inflicted on animals by unscrupulous backyard breeders. On one hand, commercial backyard breeding becomes rampant whilst strays are put down regularly. A sad, sad situation indeed.

Is the plight of strays, the environment and the homeless people not part of our social responsibility?   Why not adopt an animal instead of buying from commercial breeders? You could be saving the precious life and ending the unnecessary suffering of a dog on death row.


We will be PUT TO SLEEP in 2 days time in the SETAPAK POUND this FRIDAY if no one comes and RESCUES and FOSTERS us. PLEASE SAVE US!!! :-(  Message from Malaysian Independent Animal Rescuers about 16 dogs on death row

Monday, 25 February 2013

The Plight of Strays

After my dog, Oreo passed away, I really reflected on how much I was actually helping stray animals by trying to spay/neuter them or adopting them. Last night, while having Chap Goh Meh dinner with a group of friends, a fellow pet owner said that her vet discouraged her from spaying her female Shihtzu. Why? because according to him, after spaying, an animal may undergo character change or get fat. He said he could easily earn her money but he refused to. Alas, if only I had talked to her earlier.

This made me wonder whether the things we are encouraged to do for animals, (though with good intentions) are really beneficial  for them. For stray animals I can understand the need for spaying to control stray population. But for single pet homes, is there such a need? I was told that to be a responsible pet owner, it was necessary to spay to prevent my pet from contracting sicknesses such as reproductive organ cancers. By the same token, should humans remove their reproductive organs when they decide not to bear children anymore?

Oreo became an extremely fearful dog after being spayed. She tried to jump over the fence when the  sky became cloudy. She could no longer be left alone, yet we were working people. Our vet could not explain why she suddenly developed this fear after the spaying. She had never had even a little fear of fireworks, rain or thunder before. Of course, at this stage, everything is pure speculation but it is food for thought. It is always good to make informed choices. 

Less than a week after Oreo's death, an animal rescuer friend  offered me an abandoned poodle, for adoption. Sadly, many people are keen to own cute dogs and animals but abandon them after the novelty wears off or when they have grown old. Pets poo and pee all over the place and require work and commitment. Countless animals are abandoned daily either at shelters or on the streets.

Many people mistakenly assume that if they send their unwanted pets to shelters, their pets would have a new home. The truth is that shelters such as PAWS and SPCA euthanise many healthy animals each year due to shortage of space and funding, and a low adoption rate. Have you considered that sending your unwanted pets to these shelters could be like sending them to death row? So, check the shelter's euthanising policies first before sending your pet there.

A Taiwanese photographer took pictures of  these dogs at local shelters before they were euthanised. Beautiful, healthy animals killed using lethal injections. Take a look at Does it not prick your conscience? It breaks my heart.. But then, who really cares? After all, they are just animals at our disposal to do as we please, right? I pray not.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Death and Grief

I first set eyes on her on Wesak Day, 28 May 2011. She was a very adorable two month old, playing together with her 6 siblings. They were all very cute.  It was my desire then, to provide them with a home but I could only afford to take one. So I left the choice to my daughter. She was enamoured by them and I could totally see why. 

We named her Oreo because of her dark brown and white coloured fur. She had a wonderful personality, cheerful, affectionate, expressive and highly intelligent. Everyday, when I came home from work, I could count on seeing her cheerful face light up, happy to see me. I loved her very much. She was still a teenager going through that phase of chewing and biting which could be rather exasperating. I had no issue with it though because I accepted her for what she was. All I could see was that her heart was beautiful and full of innocence. She filled me with delight watching her running around happily.

I was deeply concerned about her increasing paranoia about rain and loud sounds, coincidentally after her neutering. Every morning, after I got up, I would peep outside from my front room window to check on her. I assumed this picture would continue for at least another few years, as the life expectancy of a dog can be quite long.

This Chinese New Year, on 12 February, my dear Oreo left. In a tragic accident, I find too traumatic to talk about, I am really, really sad. Life is short indeed. Our minds make so many secret assumptions which are untrue, without our knowing. We assume we will get up to see the world again the next day. We assume we will continue seeing our loved ones again and again.

Our minds don't cater for exceptions such as sudden death. When it happens, it leaves us reeling and feeling quite traumatised. Our minds go into shock and need a period of adjustment. During this period, it goes through much pain. This pain is the pain of attachment to the past. Attachment to my Oreo who has left, attachment to the illusion of permanence.

Death serves to tear us away from this complacency again and again. For nothing makes a bigger impact than death. We can't ignore it nor pretend that death didn't happen, as we can with so many other issues in our lives. I wish there were no such thing as impermanence. No suffering, no pain. Not at this moment.

Wherever you are, Oreo, I will always miss you. You will always be special to me. You were in our lives for a time and a season. I will let you go  only because I know you have a much better place to go to, a great journey ahead of you. Much like how a mother releases her child into the world, I have to release you too. I pray for you to meet with favourable teachers, friends and conditions in future. May you find lasting happiness and peace. I love you, Oreo.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The Road Less Travelled

It is very tempting in tough times to give up on loved ones, humans and animals alike. Sometimes their illness or mental sickness takes too much of our time, energy or finances. There are so many reasons we can give to justify to ourselves why we leave them out from our lives, emotionally or physically. We could be present physically but emotionally we have cut them off. There is no heart.

It is all well and good when they are healthy and can serve our purpose. When they can no longer do that, then we claim that we don't have time, that we were not taught to care for others and a multitude of reasons. The "love" is very conditional. Whatever religious practice we come from, we are not responsible for another's life and decisions  but we are responsible to ourselves not to harden our hearts out of pure convenience Because  "Our true nature is inherently bright like the sun, And the sun is eternally shining." -Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche 

" We should come to understand that all beings are capable of actualizing their innate nature, just as the Buddha himself did. With respect to other beings, no matter how much trouble or pain they cause us, no matter how difficult they are, we should promise ourselves that we will never give up on them. We will keep them close to our hearts, because they too possess buddha nature, they too can become Buddhas themselves" from the book Living Fully by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche

All beings have higher consciousness no matter what form they may appear to us, irrespective of the religion.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

First Day of Chinese Lunar New Year

For the first day of the Chinese New Year, I cooked a huge pot of vegetarian chap chye (mixed vegetables stew). This is a nyonya dish which my mother-in-law made on the first day of every Chinese New Year. It is a tradition carried down from her own mother. I used to assist my mother-in-law till she could no longer cook,  a few years ago. This dish could be cooked in advance and tastes even better after 1-2 days. It is delicious on its own or served with rice. We eat it all day long.

There are two versions to this dish, one using taucheo (fermented soybeans), more common in Malacca and Singapore. The other, using fu yee/nam yee (fermented beancurd) has Cantonese influences, more commonly cooked by Penang nyonyas. My mother-in-law's version uses both nam yee and fu yee. Other ingredients are mushrooms, black fungus, lily buds, tang hoon (glass noodles), beancurd sheets, gingko nuts, fatt choy (black moss) and meen kan (wheat dough or gluten).

As my family and I partake in this dish, I would like to make a wish for the peace and happiness of all beings.  Not forgetting the stray animals, and the less fortunate ones who also need our assistance and love. Thank you for visiting this blog and wishing you  love, serenity and a meaningful life. 

May you fulfill your deepest wishes and dreams. May Oreo. Sorren, Caramel, Checkers. Toffee, Ginger, Mimi and her brood be safe and well.
May ALL be Well and Happy!
shitake mushrooms

nam yee
meen kan

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Happy Holidays!!

I would like to wish Chinese readers a safe trip back home.  Have a good break during the Chinese New Year. May you have a good reunion with your families.

Gong Xi Fa Cai 恭喜发财 to all of you. May you be blessed with good health.身体健康 and may you have a good year ahead!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Our Beloved Parents


As the Chinese New Year draws nearer, many of us are preparing to be reunited with our families of origin. Our Asian culture and our religions teach us to be filial to our parents. If truth be told, how many visit their parents out of obligation and duty? How many children visit their parents because they really want to see them? And how many people feel that it does not matter either way?

The parental-child relationship can be a complicated one. Do most people have good relationships with their parents? Because we did not choose our parents, there is a possibility that we may not even like them. There is an increasing number of parents being abandoned at old folks homes or hospitals when they fall sick and are too burdensome to care for anymore. Is poor parental-child relations the reason for the estrangement of parents from their adult children? I have also heard that some parents can be terribly difficult and manipulative. Do they then deserve abandonment?

Does this post, so near the Chinese New Year make people feel uncomfortable?  Indeed, it is to me, very sad to see estranged relationships. Parents, adult children or siblings who do not speak to each other anymore. What goes through the minds of these parents at this time of the year? If their minds are still alert, how would they feel, knowing that the children they once brought up, now have no place in their lives for them?

As a parent, after all that sweat, worry and toil invested, it is a tough blow to be abandoned,  physically or emotionally, or both, by one's children, especially at a time when one is at one's most vulnerable and weakest.  Though it is increasingly acceptable to outsource the care of aged parents to outsiders due to our busy lifestyle and work commitments,  it is still a subject that weighs heavy on my mind.  "Do unto others as you would have them do to you." I believe not one person wants to spend the last years of their lives, in an old folks home, whatever the reasons may be.

The general thought these days is that we should not have expectations of our children to avoid disappointment. That we should save up and be independent of them. Can we really? Emotions, once invested always leaves us feeling vulnerable. We can prepare ourselves by changing our mindset but we can never be totally immune from disappointment, as parents. 

Saturday, 2 February 2013

The Annual Reunion

The Chinese New Year reunion dinner is regarded as a very important get-together for Chinese families. Through the years of modernisation, many traditional rituals have been done away with but the reunion dinner remains central to the Chinese New Year celebrations. In fact, it begins with the reunion of family members, some of whom travel long distances to be reunited with family for that important meal.

It is reported that in China, to have reunion dinner with their families on Chinese New Year's Eve, people scramble to leave for their hometowns by all means - train, coach, airplane, ship, self-driving, motorcycles and even bicycles, making the largest annual human migration in the world. A record 3.41 billion trips are expected to be made over this year's Lunar New Year travel rush. However, there are also those who opt to  go away for a holiday during Chinese New Year, giving the reunion dinner a miss altogether.

Traditionally, daughters who have been "married off" will not get together with their own families but have the reunion dinner with their husbands' families. However, this tradition too has become more relaxed. I observe that some of my friends take turns with their husbands to celebrate the reunion dinner, alternating between his and her home one year and the next. In the old days, this would have been strictly forbidden by the husband's family.

In the old days too, the traditional dishes of fish, prawns, chicken, mushrooms, to name a few, would be home cooked but now, quite a number of  families prefer to eat out. The restaurants enjoy roaring business on that day, many offering set meal packages.  Many Singaporeans are opting to have their Chinese New Year reunion dinner in Johor Baru as it is cheaper compared to restaurants in the island republic.

What is the significance of the reunion dinner? It can be a meaningful get-together especially if siblings and family members have not seen each other for a long time. Or it could be just another annual, obligatory meal. It all depends on how we choose to  regard it. To me, it is about spending time with family, over a sumptious meal and  the celebration of another milestone, a year gone by.

I have been having the reunion dinner at my in-laws since I got married. My mother was a fantastic cook. She could whip up restaurant style dishes such as sharksfin soup, four seasons, butter prawns, claypot treasure, steamed pomfret, etc for reunion dinner.  This year,  my mother will not be cooking.  My siblings will be buying food and converging at my parents' house. My mother is  the cement that glues my family together. I hope to continue enjoying my parents'  presence in my life for some years to come.