I must admit I am not a dog lover. Since young, I have been scared of dogs and never liked to go near them.
However, my recent heart-rending encounter with a dog at a recreational hill has changed my perception about dogs. At the same time, it has moved me to ponder how infinite and priceless a mother’s love can be.
I hike up the 300m Bukit Jambul in Penang, near my apartment, two or three times a week. Like most hikers, I like this small hill for its well-maintained tracks and facilities at the peak.
There are a few dogs around the hut in the rest area. They are friendly, and don’t bother us. They live on food given by the hikers or sometimes they would go down the hill to look for food around the posh neighbourhood.
Lately, I came across a brown dog with her four young puppies.
Usually, these cute puppies would play around the bush or the sitting areas under the watchful eyes of their protective mother. One afternoon, I did not see them around.
As I was about to descend the hill, I overheard fellow hikers talking about a brown dog at the bottom of the hill, that it had been badly injured by someone. I did not pay much attention to their remarks.
When I reached the bottom of the hill, I heard a whining sound behind the bushes near the monsoon drain. I went to investigate. It was that poor brown dog.
Looking at her condition, I knew that she was in big trouble. She was shivering in pain, and hiding behind the tall grass to protect herself. On closer inspection from a safe distance, I noticed that her front left leg was broken! How could anyone be so cruel to break the leg of this poor harmless dog looking for food so that she could produce milk to suckle her puppies?
She must have been lying there the whole day. She was all wet and very hungry-looking. My worst fear was that she could succumb to the injury and die.
I offered some money to a motorcyclist to buy a packet of chicken rice for the dog. That was the easiest and fastest way to get food for it. But it was turned down. I ended up having to do that myself.
It was quite dark when I came back with the food.
Another brown female dog was with her this time. I distracted the other dog so that the injured dog could eat the food. She gobbled up everything in no time at all. Looking at her eating, my thought was with the deserted puppies at the top of the hill. Who was going to feed them that night?
It was very dark, and there was no way I could make my way up the hill. I promised I would bring milk and food for the puppies first thing the next morning.
Oh, dear! I was pretty reluctant to climb up the hill again the following morning as I love to sleep in after a hard day of hiking.
However, filled with deep compassion for the nursing dog, I dragged myself out of bed and repeated the challenging hike up the hill.
The dog was nowhere near the bush where I had found her the previous day. I had no idea about her fate. However, my priority was to climb up the hill to feed the puppies.
After a tiring 20-minute hike, I saw the familiar dog lying pathetically on a concrete slab with her two puppies.
She was really exhausted and looked quite dead! Why?
In spite of her broken leg, this poor dog must have dragged herself up the hill in the middle of the night so she could be with her puppies.
I could only imagine the pain and suffering she endured with every single step she took as she made her way up the slippery rocks, concrete and wooden steps. Her maternal love knew no bounds. She had stoically endured a long night of pain to reach her beloved pups. Clearly, she must have been more anxious about her puppies than her own suffering.
You only have to hike up this steep hill yourself and ask this question: How did she make it up there with a broken leg – and in pitch darkness too? Well, she did it. It was amazing!
Looking at her eyes, I can only say that it is a mother’s powerful and enduring love that caused her to overcome.
(As I was admiring the dog family eating the food that I had brought for them, my thoughts turned to my own mother – her love was priceless!)
The injured dog was not greedy, either. She had left a portion of the food for the other female dog that had kept her company in her time of distress. Later, I found her four lovely puppies under a table. They were sleeping soundly and seemed to be well fed. I wondered who had come back for them.
I have great respect for this brown dog. She has certainly reminded me of what a mother’s love is all about – sacrifice, selflessness and indomitable strength.
Unfortunately, we always take our mothers for granted.
This story is dedicated to my late mother, who was fondly known to her friends as Ah Lan, and to all mothers out there. Happy Belated Mothers Day!