My Pet Story: Hail to Bodhi

My beloved dog Bodhi was very special to the family as he showed unconditional love, trust, loyalty and dedication to his owner. And he was also a responsible security guard.

Bodhi was adopted from the SPCA 14 years ago. I guess we may have met in our previous life, as he quickly came up to me, wagged his tail, and showed his eagerness to be with me and my husband. We took him home and our bond began.

When he was young he liked to bite socks and shoes and dig the garden. Every time we opened the door he was charging and running towards the golf course. Free of any tie. And we had to gather him and his Yoga companion and bring them home.

A couple who took regular walks in the morning used to shout “Handsome Bodhi!” And he was standing at the door, waiting to be patted on the head.

Every morning, whenever he heard my footsteps and the sound of the bell at the altar, he waited impatiently for the front door to open. He then waited for me to begin my morning prayers. He followed me as I walked into my house and sang silently.

Every time I went to work, he accompanied me to the door. Around 5 or 6 in the evening, he was waiting at the door for me to come home. If I was late, he would still wait until I got back.

Every night after dinner, every time I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, he would get up quickly, follow me and wait at the door. Once I was done he knew it was time to go for a walk in the garden. He would follow me diligently.

Dogs are real friends and I really advocate dog therapy to heal people. Their silent company is difficult to understand. They give comfort, affection and unconditional love.

Seeing Bodhi sick with immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA) over the past few months has been heartbreaking. When the vet said he needed a blood transfusion, we quickly rushed him to the animal hospital.

After doing some tests and an ultrasound, he showed that the spleen was inflamed and swollen. The vet recommended emergency surgery to remove the spleen or a biopsy to see if the tumor was cancerous or not.

What if it was cancerous? Could Bodhi undergo a biopsy, followed by surgery and possibly chemotherapy? As a dog owner, we wanted to provide them with the best possible treatment, medication and care. It was a difficult situation for the owner and the dog. Eventually my husband and I decided not to do all of these invasive procedures and opted for palliative care for Bodhi.

Bodhi spent a good 14 years with us and we wanted him to enjoy his familiar surroundings during his last days. We knew Bodhi wouldn’t be happy to be kept in a cage at the vet. So we took him home.

I was quite helpless to take care of a sick dog. Although my husband and I are trained in a human hospice, we have no experience with caring for a sick dog. They cannot speak and we are powerless as to what needs to be done.

We were fortunate enough to meet a compassionate lady, Jackie Zhang, from an NGO, Save A Stray Malaysia, in the process of obtaining a canine blood donor. She shared some tips on how to take care of Bodhi, what to feed him, and move him around later when he couldn’t get up and walk.

It was then that I realized there was a need for nursing and palliative care for animals. It is sorely lacking in Malaysia. It would be nice if animal lovers and vets could come together to start basic training courses for people interested in learning how to care for their end-of-life dogs or cats.

During his last two days, Bodhi was in a lot of pain, I could tell. The night before he died, I spoke to him and told him that the eyes are the windows to the soul. So I looked him in the eye and he looked at me intently while listening to me.

I told him about how we first met at the SPCA, how he came to stay with us, the good times we shared together and what a good friend he had been to us, and how well he had done his work conscientiously. I told him I enjoyed his company and hoped he enjoyed being with us too.

I apologized to him for forcing him to take medicine and food when he was very ill. I told him if he could get better it would be good, but if he had to go I would understand – we would let him go and we would take care of ourselves. I said to him, “Bodhi, may you be born as a human being in your next life.

On his very last night, Bodhi had a seizure and was out of breath. The night seemed long to me. As I stroke his forehead and sing, he calms down.

By morning his breathing had slowed down and my husband placed a stupa with a sand mandala on his forehead. He later passed away peacefully. My husband recited prayers for him and covered him with a yellow blanket with mantras printed on it.

Bodhi was cremated and his ashes were kept in a beautiful urn. He was buried in the garden next to his beloved Yoga girlfriend.

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