My family and I are avid animal lovers, particularly dogs of all species, be they big or small. Having been surrounded by dogs throughout the last 30 years of my married life, my husband and I have bred, and also buried, many dogs in the past when they die of old age.
However, the last one which left us on July 6 this year left me devastated for weeks. I thought time would heal and I should be able to get over the loss pretty soon just as I had in the past. I was wrong. This one was different.
Maybe because she was my dog, my pet. Everywhere I turned, I saw her. I see her sprawling languorously underneath my badawi chair, all cuddled up in her favourite corner in our living room, rolling happily all over my bed in the master bedroom, waiting patiently outside my bathroom while I showered, running around in my garden and playing hide and seek with me near the cluster of pandan bushes.
I still see her everywhere ... how can I forget her?
Hazel was the name given to my 12-year-old Yorshire terrier by the woman who rescued her. When we took her home, she was about seven years old already. She hardly weighed 3.5kg. She was so tiny, I could carry her in the crook of my arm. My daughter adopted Hazel as a gift for my 50th birthday.
After two weeks with us, I renamed her Hazel Yada Yada Yoong. Why Yada Yada? Because her whole demeanour, in particular, the shape of her head, reminded me of Yoda in the Star Wars movie. Over time, I dropped the first two names and she was simply referred to fondly as My Da, short form for Yada.
I feel I need to share the story of My Da with you as she was so special. She seemed more human than a real person at times. I also hope that by sharing My Da's story, mothers will view pet dogs differently.
In February 2009, my eldest daughter, Hun, another avid animal lover, came home one evening and told me that her friend, a dog rescuer, has this cute little Yorkshire terrier which needed a home. My immediate reaction was, enough!
"Give us a break! Daddy already has to bathe six dogs at the weekend. No more, please!"
Knowing Hun, she didn't give up easily. Two weeks later she showed me a picture of the yorkie in her mobile phone.
"See, Mum? So cute! So poor thing, no one wants her because she's old and doesn't bark."
At that juncture, something in my heart gave way.
"We'll drive over to your friend's place this weekend and take a look. No guarantee that we will bring her back with us," I warned my daughter.
When we reached the house and rang the doorbell, at least six dogs started barking. I peeped through the gate railings and saw this little creature that looked more like a cat than a dog.
What caught my eye was her unique two-toned fur - a mixture of very light brown interspersed with creamy blond streaks. She, too, came to the gate to check us out.