A (Dog’s) Beautiful Life – Part 1; Inspiration from George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog, and Singapore 8 years ago

This was originally scheduled as a tribute for when JD eventually says goodbye… Thanks to Mun, a reader I got to know through my blog, it then occurred to me I was likely not to be able to look at the pictures again for a long time after JD’s passing – so instead I decided to look back now; after all, between additional grieving and warm and fuzzy feelings, which do you think I’m gonna pick…..?

Once upon a time, there was a shy little dog…

JD trying to concentrate on "sitting" in her first Obedience class

JD would eventually flunk out of obedience class because she had to sit/ stay for 3 minutes or stand/ stay for 5 minutes in order to pass with a certificate. Instead, she would look around, scratch, and scoot her bum closer and closer to me with a grin. GIANT FAIL.

To this day, she cannot “pass” traditional Obedience – it hasn’t stopped her from having won the 3-dog Team Event in one of the HK International Agility competitions where there were teams from China and Japan among others who came over… (Solo, she often placed top 3 but only won maybe twice in local comps.) You would not know this when she is not on competition grounds because she doesn’t follow instructions to the T the way the professional trainers’ and breeders’ dogs do.

We’re fine with it, I like the idiosyncrasies like the bum scooting and pretending to yawn etc too much to correct it away <sheepish>. And anyway we trained her so she would get over shyness (when we bought her she had a tummy bug, mange and was excessively shy, hiding under the furniture and crying. Yeah, hard to imagine today), not for competition purposes..

More baby pictures – JD’s taking tummy medicine in the bottom one; she was sick a lot as a pup and loved if we gave her her medicine straight from the fridge
A Chow-chow Named Tsao Tsao. Or Zhao Zhao. Or…. It’s a Chinese name, I don’t know what the pinyin is. I know you don’t care, but the Chow-chow’s owner does. For real.

This is JD, dressed as a Chow-chow in graduation robes. Haha not – she doesn’t like dress up, remember?

This pic was given to us by JD’s Obedience Classmate’s owners. Taken on Graduation Day from Puppy Kindergarten. I swear, I’m serious this time. That’s what they really used to call it. “Graduates” then go on to Obedience Class, and after that Agility and etc. This was in Singapore about 8 1/2 years ago, and “Puppy Kindergarten” = toilet training/ end of obsessive barking. I think. Like Kings, JD did not go to Kindergarten. She was allowed to enroll in OC straight, but then when she couldn’t pass the sit/stay and down/stay 3-5 mins thing, she wasn’t allowed to progress to Agility. When we got to HK we happily carried on because no one said anything about us having to pass OC first.

One of George Rodrigue's Paintings

This… isn’t even a border collie. Cajun artist George Rodrigue did a series of Blue Dog paintings – long ago I read that the dog is his terrier/spaniel cross named Tif (short for Tiffany) and after she died he started featuring her in his paintings – yes, predominantly in blue.

Like so…
And so….

It’s a spooky image after the Cajun “werewolf” legend of Loup-garou. But the point was this dog appears literally “everywhere” in his paintings like the dog-spirit he has given the face of his dead dog – and we found it hilarious and not at all creepy that JD often has the same facial expression as Blue Dog. So occasionally you might see pics where we attempt to capture this effect – of JD in places you wouldn’t expect to see dogs. The facial expression however, is harder to swing.

Like so...

The above is kind of a “cheat” because it’s not hard to take this pic, it’s in a dog-friendly area – but JD hates posing for pictures so it’s not easy to get the Blue Dog Look on camera, she’s always looking everywhere, scratching, scooting. And it’s true that rowdy Mainland tourists in particular like to take this picture from across the road like we’ve done. This is the (f-airly famous) Peak Lookout restaurant, whose owner/ manager is a huge dog lover with a giant bulldog who sits in aircon comfort in the office in summer – it’s a swanky restaurant with both indoor and outdoor seating so dog lovers have wine in their workout clothes after finishing one of the hiking trails, or else have their dogs in attendance at their weddings here.

And so…..

Almost made it to Blue Dog Look, except she looks supremely bored and fed up.

Not Happy

Yes, this was right in front of Disneyland Hotel – it was actually easier to do this in HK because though more brusque and outspoken in general than in Singapore, attendants in HK will usually suffer you driving up, putting the dog there to take a pic, then leaving quickly. The biggest problem is more how to swing it in town with the traffic because taxi and other drivers will not suffer you stopping everywhere.

Some of the pictures taken in Central (more of which I’ll eventually put up) were with patrolling policemen watching from afar, having realized a) the dog isn’t vicious and b) we’re rushing a pic, and not say anything.

Chanel in Prince Building in the heart of Central, about 7 years ago

Like for e.g. this one, which is quite near the High Court, MTR, and was hard to take without bustling commuters/ yuppies moving around JD and in front of the camera. But we were mindful the cops were watching us finish up (though they didn’t say anything to us) so we didn’t linger…

But anyway lemme finish off some of the old Singapore pics before we moved here…

Off Marina Station Road Early 2004

One of my all-time favorite pics, and what I imagine Dog Heaven would be like... But not with Singapore weather - it's about 33 degrees Celsius in the pic... And can you make out Pan Pacific Hotel in the background?

Don’t think any of these fields exist anymore, you can even see the construction behind JD in one pic, Singapore changed so much in the last 7 years since we lived there… And JD looks gawky from many angles because she was a teenaged dog when those were taken…

Crazy Dog - looking deliriously happy because she loves swimming to beat the heat..

I don’t think the above place in Singapore exists anymore either…

Only maybe this place still exists, in East Coast Park – Kings and I went back for beers last year with Rockstar… 

This was also where we were asking other patrons what happened to all the big dogs because we did not see a single medium/ big dog the entire time we sat here with Rockstar 7 years later (and missing JD – I noticed about the dogs because it made me feel just a teeny bit better for not having JD also with us… But it’s true she hates flying – cost HKD 16,000 to bring her over in a travel box meant for a Great Dane, with the handler coming to our apartment beforehand, me putting the recommended aromatherapy oil in her water as well as one of my t-shirts in the crate – and she still took the trip really badly. One reason even pre-Rockstar we never took up her school’s suggestion to bring her for overseas competitions in Japan like some of her Agility classmates go for, with some kind of “limited” doggie passport that allows competing dogs to travel…)

Early sunset during hike around Lamma Island Hong Kong

And that’s how we will eventually end up here. That pic might look nice, but what she’s doing is refusing to look at the camera because she wants to keep going……

To Be Continued…..

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=785596795 Arnold Aranez

    A cool tribute to JD the wonder dog! Nice work :)

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      haha thanks dear… With the current noise about soccer matches though, I think no one cares about my dog :P must do more dog posts!

  • http://profiles.google.com/heather.sario Heather Sario

    What a beautiful post! :) I actually read this in the afternoon, then went for a walk with the hubs, and found ourselves in a pet shop, playing with the pups and dreaming of getting our very own JD. We had to whack each other out of it though, since we knew we couldn’t give him/ her any stability with all these moves around the world. So, when I got back home, I came back to this page and scrolled up and down and smiled at JD’s funny pictures over and over again.Talk about living vicariously through you! :))) In a good way!
    p.s. What does JD stand for?

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      Aww.. That was how we eventually ended up with JD… We were doing that every weekend – going to pet shops n drooling – n JD became an impulse purchase (after standing in the place for 90 mins and then praying fervently it was the right thing to do) that turned our lives upside down. And then when the dust settled we realized to what extent it was for the better.. And at the end of the day the question was the likelihood what we had to offer was better than what she was likely to get from other owners… Bearing in mind she was a border collie pup in an ulu-fied pet shop in Singapore.. We had actually tried to adopt at SPCA following this logic, but an early phone call to them had them turning us down because our default work hours made us “unsuitable” for adoption.. That was y we were drooling in the pet shops but we honestly never thought we would get a dog…

      JD = “Just ‘Dog’” and was supposed to be a temp name but she picked it up so fast we just kept it… And anyway she answers to anything – when she wants. We did have fun earlier on with telling people it stood for Jack Daniels, Jelly Doughnut, Juvenile Delinquent… Esp living in HK I love initials because no one ever gets her name wrong :D

  • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

    What a beautiful post.JD is so cute as a baby and I love the crazy dog photo – how in the world did you manage to capture that action shot – so ferocious looking with water droplets flying all over her.

    JD may not have passed her OC training but in my opinion, she sure is top-class obedient to pose for photo with you all across the road taking her picture. I am sure many dogs would have been distracted by the new surrounding and started exploring.

    Thank you, I really enjoy looking at the photos in this post –  so heart-warming to feel all the love JD is getting now and before.

    P/S Sorry for bringing this up, have plans been made for her final resting place? 

    • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

      Haha for every shot you see up here (esp the action ones), there are umpteen ruined ones. JD strangely she does better on the most difficult/ complicated courses where most dogs get a lot of points deducted for “mistakes,” but she is nowhere on Obedience or the simpler Agility runs where a lot of dogs perform with precise movements and no mistakes…

      I remember seeing a young couple coming to place flowers and a tennis ball in a secluded spot at one of the parks up on the Peak, and learned from other regulars on that trail that this was where they buried Dino, their 9yr old Maltese who succumbed to tick fever (they even tried blood transfusions to no avail – fairly often we come across older or young dogs here who get it) – and who loved tennis balls. We were a bit worried JD was going to see it and come back with the ball they put on Dino’s grave :P

      But to answer your question, I’m thinking cremation, after which we will scatter the ashes at some of her favorite parks, by the sea, and so on. Other than that, I have two of her baby fangs in a Links of London locket – when they fell out while she was still a pup she was really bothered and we found her repeatedly picking them up and trying to put them back in her mouth…

      • http://lifeafter38.blogspot.com/ zmun2

        Cremation sounds good. Does HK have a pet crematorium where they allow the owners to watch the whole process?

        For the last part in your above reply, I can imagine JD as a pup and how cute she must be, trying to pick up her baby fangs to put them back in her mouth. So cute! :)

      • http://raisingrockstar.com Aileen

        I vaguely remember they have some services, but I haven’t asked the more local pet owners in awhile and am not sure if they let you watch… You might be able to google it but probably in Chinese not English… For English-speaking expats I think we’d probably ask the vet and I’m not sure they offer something you can watch… I’m not sure I want to watch to b honest, I prefer a celebration of the pet’s life hence going back to the places she enjoyed being… And after that will b closure – so we can give this kind of life to another animal too..