The Tough Wilderness

Stray animals in Singapore (usually cats and dogs) always reminds me of my army days. There were quite a few instances where I bumped into stray or wild animals along my training in the army for 1 year 10 months.

There was this particular dog who lurks around my camp and whenever we go out for route marches, it will follow us. Be it marching to the nearby 300m firing range, the explosives firing range or even the further firing range on a hill, it will follow us to and fro. Even when we went on the 32km route march (starting point and ending point was the camp itself), that dog would follow. It followed us around (particularly my company whom I was taking as an instructor; Mike Coy) and so the instructors in Mike Coy named the dog Mikey.

It’s amazing how Mikey could follow us and not get hurt. It was quite skinny and we tried to feed it some food every now and then but Mikey always refused to eat our food; combat rations and dog biscuits (not an actual biscuit for dogs but.. yeah… no idea why we are eating biscuits that are named for dogs =/).

Every time I see Mikey I would say a little prayer in my heart to God that he would take care of this dog and feed it and keep it out of harms way. Alas, one day there was an incident that a dog had bitten a cadet who was on guard patrol at night. News spread like wildfire and accuses of the culprit came along with it the very next day. The accused was Mikey. There was an obvious inconsistency with the description of the dog like the color of the dog and there was two dogs etc..etc.. Some would say ‘that dog which followed your around every time’ and ‘Mikey was the one!’

I saw Mikey a few more times after that and it didn’t really seem like that kind of dog. It was gentle and always kept its distance from us except for one time when I was eating waffles and Mikey was sniffing right at my hand but when i tore a bit of my waffles and put it on the floor, Mikey didn’t eat it! =(

There was another wild animal when I was in Taiwan. It so happened that we had reached our objective and the cadets needed to set up a defence perimeter, so the instructors went to another secluded place to chill out and this wild orange/brown fox appeared out of nowhere. It never let us get near and always runs away when we wanted to go closer. We tore open our combat ration and squeezed it all out on the floor and the fox ate it all up! It ate 2 of our combat rations at one go. Again I said a little prayer in my heart, the same prayer I prayed for Mikey. After that I never saw it again.

The last one is my favorite! And so I was the Urban Operations Specialist and I needed to conduct the whole 3 days 2 night training for the cadets and coordinate with the instructors on what to do. I was really stressed out as it was my first time doing it and with a lot of hiccups here and there. The whole training was held in buildings (as the event suggests; Urban) and the command team (everyone else except the cadets) set up a HQ in one of the buildings. On the first day at late noon, three little puppies came to us and played around us!! It was one of the most adorable things I’ve seen in my army life =) We gave them things to play like scrunched up paper balls and even made a more permanent ball with musking tape and paper balls. I thank God that most of the command team loved them and gave them TLC =)

Every time there was a break, I would see them at our HQ either sleeping or playing which really helped relieved a lot of my stressed and they always melt my heart =3 At night, one of the staff sergeants who loved animals slept with all 3 of them on him, it was really the most loving side of him that I’ve seen in my entire life! And the Ops Spec also tried to give them water by filling up a plastic bag with water and poking a hole, but the puppies just wanted to bite the plastic bag till it had tons of holes lol! They always played with each other and quite roughly, I think 2 was boys and 1 was a girl as the girl always didn’t really played too rough with them. When they sleep, its either below our tables and chairs or on the staff sergeant’s lap as they would just jumped into his lap when he was sitting on the floor. There was once in the afternoon when I saw the staff sergeant sleeping upright at a corner on the floor with his legs crossed and 2 puppies were in his lap and 1 sleeping beside him. So cuttee!! =)

And finally when it was time to go, it was on the last night and the HQ was all packed up. I had to make a few last checks at the HQ to make sure nothing was left behind and to gather my thoughts. There I was standing at the doorway leading to the central market place where everyone else was gathered and the 3 puppies was sitting right in front of me, blocking my exit. And they were whining, and whining so loudly because they knew we were going away and the 3 of them looked up at me with their ears folded back with the sad puppy eyes staring back at me. At that moment, tears rolled down my cheek as I patted each and every one of them on the head saying goodbye and I prayed the same prayer, “Dear God, please take care of these 3 little puppies and feed them and don’t let them suffer”.

Through out the 3 days, no one saw their mummy.
I wished I could have brought the 3 of them back home.

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