The Sunday Supplement - My 3 legged friends

I am currently on a sit in Bali with Tiga, a local Bali puppy from a rescue. She is about 5 months old.

Tiga means 3 in Bahasa Indonesian.

She has 4 legs, at the moment.

Unfortunately, one of her front legs is deformed and withered - a birth defect.

She has had an x-ray to work out what is connected – bone, blood vessels etc., but I am not sure what the result is. There is the option to surgically remove her leg while she is still young, and this may help her mobility and remove some chance of injury later in life.

She is very active, but gets very tired quickly, especially on the soft sand on the beach, but she loves going to the beach and meeting her pals.

Anyway, that got me thinking!

Tiga is the 3rd dog I have looked after now as a house and pet sitter with only 3 legs – the dogs, not me.

(That reminds me of one of my dad’s favourite lines – I once knew a man with one leg called Dave.

What was his other leg called?)

So, a chance to write about all 3 dogs.

Mikey, or Mike the trike to his friends – (Trike being short/slang for a tricycle, 3 wheeled bike.)

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I met Mike, a Vietnamese Phú Quốc Ridgeback, in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in February 2018.

The Phu Quoc Ridgeback is a breed of dog from the island of Phú Quốc in Kiên Giang Province in southern Vietnam

He was only about 9-month-old so still really a big puppy. He had lost a back leg after an accident with a motorcycle.

And he was completely deaf.

Look at those ears.

But deaf as a post.

The owners got him from a local rescue after seeing him on the rescue Facebook page and fell in love instantly.

They were a young couple, recently married, and work meant that they only needed to leave Mike alone for a limited time (tick). Their apartment was on the 14th floor of a residential housing block, with lots of space outside to walk him.

They didn’t have any experience with a deaf dog, and neither have I, but I have looked after some difficult dogs in the past for a rehoming charity, so I was able to use some of my “skills” during my sit to do a bit of training with Mikey.

Hand signals, rather than spoken commands.

We had a great 2 weeks together, so many laughs.

Have you ever tried to put a harness on a 3-legged dog? If you lifted his front leg to put on the harness, he fell over.

So, it was a kind of balancing act, lean him against me, harness on.

I wish I could show you a video of him running around the apartment – around and around and around in circles. Running around the table. He would do that for ages.

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During the day he slept on the floor, usually with his good leg stretched up the wall, lying on his back. And if you came back home and he was asleep, he would just carry-on sleeping, sometimes for hours. He had no idea you were there – deaf remember. But those ears!

At the start of the covid pandemic, his owners decided to return to the UK, and I still follow Mike’s adventures on Instagram, so it is good to see him enjoying his new life in Wales.

The 2nd 3 legger was in Bali.

There is a wee bit of a story to this one.

My first sit in Bali in April 2018 was with 2 little Shih Tzu.

Now I have had English Springer Spaniels for years, so reasonably big dogs, and I have never really been a fan of little dogs, however, the chance to go to Bali for the first time was too much to miss.

Back then it was a kind of bucket list destination. A place I had heard about all my life and never thought I would get the chance to go to.

I was at Mike’s place in Vietnam when I saw the listing on THS, and even after only a day or so it had over 20 applications, so I thought there was very little chance. However, I applied, went to bed, got up in the morning and got the sit.

No chat, no more questions, just thanks for applying, you look like the ideal person, and we will be in touch nearer the time. Back then the THS system was applied, offer, and accept. So, I did.

Fast forward a bit, past a 3 week sit in Singapore, and a one week sit in Singapore, and Mid-April I am in Bali.

Bonnie and Clyde, the Shih Tzu were amazing. Sister and brother, are just lovely wee dogs. Bonnie was the boss, Clyde followed her everywhere, and she followed me.

I walked on the beach the first morning with the owner, off lead, and they were great, so that was a big relief. The villa was 5 minutes from the beach so every morning at about 7 am, and every evening at 5 pm we headed for the beach.

After a few days, I noticed this older beach dog. She was almost always at the top of the road, just hanging around. I started talking to her as we passed, as you do… good morning old lady, how are you today kind of thing.

Or is it just me?

After a couple of days, she started to get up when we appeared and eventually started to join us on our walks. The wee dogs didn’t like to go too far in the sand, so we would slowly plod along the beach to a river, then turn and head back for breakfast. The old dog would come as far as the river, then go for a swim, and most days stay at the river. But it became a regular walk. The 2 wee dogs just accepted her.

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She had most of a front leg missing, so I called her Hoppy.

I was there for a month, so over about 3 weeks, I got to know her quite well. She didn’t have a collar so no known owner, but a number of local shops and restaurants would feed her, she was actually in very good health and a popular dog.

After Bali, I spent the summer on two longish sits, 7 weeks in Chaing Mai in Thailand, followed immediately by almost 6 weeks in Yokoyama Japan.

From Japan I flew to Vietnam for a couple of weeks, staying with friends.

After a few days, I got a message from the owner in Bali asking if I was available in September for the whole month. I reminded her that the visa on arrival was only for 30 days but I would be happy to come back.

I have found a few times in this region that owners forget about visas. It varies from country to country so you really need to check carefully before accepting a sit. I have seen a few advertised which are for 31 or 32 days – if you add in-flight days, and I avoid them or have actually contacted owners to point out the visa requirement, and they have changed their dates. Just one more thing to check before applying for a sit in another country.

Anyway, I accepted the repeat sit, then a couple of days later she messaged me to say:

Yes.

My hoppy.

Now when I left in May I didn’t see the owner, and I never mentioned Hoppy in any messages as far as I can remember. WOW.

When I first arrived back at the Villa in September, Hoppy was nowhere to be seen. The owner did let her out every day to do her own thing, then she would come back for food, or at night to sleep.

Once again, I wish I could show you a video: I went for a walk, and about a hundred metres in front of me I spotted her, and she saw me! I had not seen her for almost 4 months but I got a song!

She howled with delight, danced around me and followed me home. I will post a few screenshots below from a short video I took of our first meeting again. And she sang.

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The next 4 weeks with the 2 Shih Tzus and Hoppy were some of the best moments I have had pet sitting.

Hoppy had quickly become almost like a guardian to the other 2, and they loved her. Playing on the beach, and in the house, is just great fun. She did still do her own thing sometimes, wanting out during the day, but would always come back to the house by about 4.30 pm for our walk to the beach.



So, my second trip to Bali was the almost perfect house sit.

I was invited back for a third time in March 2019.

When I arrived, the owner’s brother-in-law was in the house.

He was travelling with the owner to Australia.

He knew that I knew Hoppy. He kind of let me know that all was not well, she had lost a lot of weight and was obviously not very well. When I saw her, I was a bit shocked. She had lost about half her weight, but she was still Hoppy – smiling and even after almost 5 months still remembered me.

It wasn’t quite the same for that month. She still came down to the beach every day, but wasn’t really so playful.

On my final day, the cleaner had let her out in the morning, and it had rained in the afternoon. When I headed for the beach at about 5 pm there was no sign of her. Sometimes she would appear from another villa or a side street as we walked to the beach but today, nothing.

I have a favourite spot, a beach bar/shack thing, I still go there now even 4 years later.

About 5.45 that night she appeared, looking for us, and lay down at my feet. This is one of my favourite and last pictures of Hoppy.

Sadly, about 3 weeks after I left, she passed away with the owner early one morning. Probably some kind of cancer.

I am so glad she had at least a year of good times, good food and good company.

My favourite dog from all my sits – and there have been some special dogs.

And number three of the threes - Tiga.

A wee star. I am still with her as I write this, and just improving every day. Her bad leg does slow her down a bit, she plays with other dogs on the beach, but gets tired quickly, has a rest then off again.

So, I took her to the beach for her first time, on a scooter for her first time, met her first horse, the first cat, and lots of training, and she just takes it all in her stride – clever wee girl.

I need to stop getting so close to them!

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I am planning on making a couple of videos for the owner, just to show her what we have achieved over 5 weeks – by the time she comes back, Tiga will be a different, older girl.

I hope to keep in touch, and maybe walk her when I come back to Bali later in the year/next year.

It’s a hard life sometimes

11 Likes

What simply beautiful doggos! Happy’s story has really done me in, I started crying with happiness when I read about the HO telling you about the third dog, my crying then changed to sadness. It seems so unfair that Happy only got that year of being part of a family.
I think too it reminded me of a little foster dog .I brought home who had one eye and a massive heartworm burden, Lele was the sweetest wee terrier who looked wagged her tail furiously if you even glanced at her, she was starved of affection. Sadly the heartworm treatment was just too much for her frail little body and 6 weeks after she came to me she passed away on my sofa, with a final wag of her tail. I still cry for her 18 years later.
(Sorry I have rambled on a bit)
All you 3 or 4 legged charges are very lucky to have you!

5 Likes

Thanks, @Von. I wrote this over a couple of evenings last week, and I also had tears running down my cheeks as I wrote - memories and the pictures - happy and sad at the same time.

4 Likes

That’s just lovely. What fabulous dogs. Your dad’s joke made me snort, cant believe I’ve not heard that one before!