Farewell Ralphie

We came to know about you on October 3, at about 3pm, when a member of the public sent your photograph to us. She said she had seen you crossing the road right in front of her car at around noon, along Yishun Ring Road. We rushed down to save you and take you to the vet but alas, you were nowhere to be found.

That photograph of you with a badly infected maggot wound and a missing ear sparked off 21 days of searching. 21 long days… many thoughts have crossed our minds, but unfortunately life is made up of “if onlys” and “what ifs”.

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That fateful day itself, October 3, a team of volunteers and friends started our search for you, combing the area and its vicinity from 5pm to 3am and starting early the next morning again. In fact, for the first 10 days since you were spotted, our team and some friends had put everything on hold, working on almost 24 hour shifts to look for you, staking out areas where you were last seen, falling asleep while waiting for you to appear, taking leave from work to put up posters and ask around. We even had the poster translated into 4 languages to target construction workers.

We were touched and heartened when friends, Facebook readers, Yishun residents and members of the public helped to look out and search for you, calling us whenever you were sighted.

We pounded the streets till our legs and backs ached, and we imagine that must have been just a fraction of the pain and discomfort you were going through. You must have spent your entire life pounding the streets, searching for food, chased away by unkind humans and looking for shelter where you could spend a safe day.

But in all our 21 days of searching, we never once met you. It seemed to us that those who intended to help you never saw you, and you only appeared to people who didn’t help you. We received calls about your sighting usually in the wee hours of the morning, and despite rushing down within a very short time, you were always gone by the time we arrived. We would go on a wild goose chase, searching for a needle in a haystack. It was often a case of so close, yet so far. You were elusive to those who wanted to help.

Watch video of a drone sent in to look for Ralphie .

You had lived your life as a stray and trust was not something you were familiar with. We understood that. By the second week of searching, we came to the conclusion that perhaps you didn’t want to be found at all. Having already suffered alone on the streets for such a long time, maybe you didn’t want to be helped or saved because you simply didn’t know what love or trust was.

But we did love you. After 21 days of searching, we felt as if we knew you, even though we didn’t. You must have gotten attacked by younger, stronger dogs, who had bitten your ear and that wound eventually became maggot infested. We heard workers telling us they had seen you since mid-September, when you went from having an ear to not having an ear.

People often asked if we were frantically searching for our own dog and when we said you were a stray, they were often shocked that we were putting so much effort into looking for a dog that was “just a stray”. But yet we persisted, forming search teams to look for you, because we knew you were in pain and needed help.

Alas, 21 days have passed and it’s been a week since your last sighting. We had said we would call off the search after last Sunday but each morning we woke up with renewed faith, energy and determination that we would find you. And at the end of each day, often in the wee hours of the night, we would go home dejected, sad and exhausted. Sleep did not come easy. We would toss and turn in bed, dreaming about you, expecting the phone to ring, wondering where we didn’t search, wondering if you were still alive.

Today is 6 days after Sunday. Six days after supposedly calling off the search, yet we know there are still friends and fellow dog-lovers walking and driving around, hoping to see you, hanging on to the last glimmer of hope.

Part of us hope that you might still be alive and to be found soon, but deep down inside our hearts, we would like to think that you are free from suffering and have gone to a better, happier place Ralphie, a place where you would now understand the true meaning of love and happiness.

As you lie deep in the forest, on the warm soil, waiting for Mother Nature to claim you, we bid you farewell; we are sorry we couldn’t help you. We’re sorry we let you down.

Farewell Ralphie.