Moby and me

Moby and Me

We wanted to rescue a dog. I had just quit my job as a journalist in Singapore when we moved to Taiwan in April 2008. Trapped at home while my hubby Mun Yew slaved at work, I thought how nice to have a dog for companionship. I could take it with me on my hikes up Elephant Mountain or when I popped down the street to the Wellcome.

We had a look at the pet shops on Keelung Road and were quite taken with the puppies. But deep down, I felt it would be much better to give an abandoned dog a home. That’s how we found ourselves at the Animals Taiwan shelter in Beitou. It was our first time in any sort of animal shelter. The dogs were frantically barking and leaping up and down. Some had their legs amputated and were scurrying around in wheelchairs.

None really caught our eye but as we were leaving, Mun Yew spotted a long-haired dog that looked like a wolf. She stood on a table, high above the other dogs. She was calm and did not bark at all. When they took her out of the pen, she didn’t acknowledge us at all. “She’s a very shy dog,” said Arnold, the young volunteer there. “She’s not a dog dog.” What did that mean? She doesn’t like other dogs, he replied.

We later found out she didn’t even like people. In fact, she’s terrified of strangers - as well as umbrellas, suitcases, and anything that’s made of black leather. She had probably been cruelly abused. Moby was found by animal rescuers in Jinshan with a broken leg. She was tied to a tree and left to die.

With the two of us, from day one, she has been the best dog in the world. But if someone comes to our apartment, she goes beserk with fear. In the park, she tries to attack other dogs. At the vet, we have to muzzle her. I can’t take her up Elephant Mountain. I don’t even dare take her to the Wellcome.

We took her to Dr Dog, the training school. And quit after two classes. We bought celebrity dog whisperer Cesar Milan’s books and watched his TV show. Then came Angus, our Taiwanese dog trainer. Except he doesn’t train dogs, he trains owners. Be the pack leader, he would bellow in Chinese. Don’t spoil her.

During each session, we would make progress. But after he left, we were inconsistent. I hand fed her if she wouldn’t eat. Put her on my lap when she was upset. I flunked as an alpha male and Mun Yew was only marginally better.

Three years on, Moby has made some progress. She eats only after we give her the OK signal. She knows basic commands like “stay”, “rest” and “ball”. She never jumps onto the sofa or enters the bedrooms. She’s always so happy when we come home, relieved we haven’t abandoned her.

But she still goes berserk when someone comes to the house. She still attacks small dogs in the park. She’s not the type of canine companion I had in mind when I harassed the hubby for a dog. But through her, I’ve learnt to be more patient, more disciplined and more accepting of little flaws. I’ve learnt that you don’t always get what you want but that life can be more interesting and fulfilling because of that. And, best of all, our dog’s brought us closer together. We set out to rescue a dog but in many ways, Moby rescued us.

Sunita and Mun Yew moved back to Singapore at the end of 2011. They took Moby with them.