Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

Saving Fatty

August 7, 2013 2

WARNING: This page contains images that are NSFW / may offend you. If you’ve got a weak stomach, please go back to my homepage to read a happier story 🙂


As Bryan, Jean Mei and Joy were leaving Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) today, they spotted one of “our” dogs lying on the ground. He was one of many strays who had made our land his home, and had become a regular fixture around our guardhouse. Although he had been missing for a week, as a “stray” dog most of us weren’t too concerned since such dogs are usually transient in nature. It was just a bit weird that he wasn’t by the guardhouse to run alongside our cars and bark at us whenever we drove in and out. He was there so often I’d started calling him Fatty because he was short and stumpy, with a fat wagging tail.

On closer inspection, they noticed Fatty wasn’t doing too well. In fact, the normally aggressive dog was lying down and allowing people to approach him, where normally only our security guards could go near him. Then they saw how badly injured he was…half of his face was missing. Jean Mei immediately called Beng Kooi to let her know, which is when Beng Kooi and I went out to look for them.

With Martin and Khoo’s help, it didn’t take much for us to capture Fatty. He wasn’t really resisting our attempts anyway. Once we got him in the box, Beng Kooi sped ahead of us to go down to KL, to keep the vet open for him. Joy and myself followed behind, driving Fatty with us. Throughout the entire journey, Fatty didn’t do what most stray dogs will do when captured. He didn’t bark, didn’t struggle, didn’t even growl although I was driving fast and the Karak Highway isn’t exactly a straight road.

And the smell, oh my god the smell. If you’ve ever smelt rotting flesh, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about…that heavy, iron-laden smell that fills the air, clinging to your nose and clogging up your throat so you can’t breathe. We drove with the windows down, chanting mantras all the way so that if Fatty didn’t make the journey, at least the last thing he heard was mantras.

Now here’s something that’s a little amazing – between Bentong (in the state of Pahang) and Jalan Gasing (in the state of Selangor), every single traffic light was green and I never had to stop even once. Even the speedtraps set up to catch F1-wannabe drivers were taking a break from their work. I know there’s no way something like that could happen without the intervention of our Dharma Protector.

Once we got to KL, the prognosis was not good. As soon as the doctor looked at him, he immediately recommended putting Fatty down. This is the first time I’ve ever heard our doctor making such a recommendation because he knows our stance when it comes to euthanasia. As Buddhists, taking an animal’s life is not something we do lightly. In fact, we’ve never had to do it before because s much as we can, we’d rather exhaust all means of healing the animal, regardless of the cost. We’ve done acupuncture, tailor-made diets, massage therapy, the works for our dogs. As Buddhists, it’s not for us to decide when a sentient being’s karma in this life should end.

But Fatty’s face had been attacked by maggots which had eaten away half of his face, his skull, his eye and they were now eating his brain. He was in so much pain, he wasn’t even whimpering, just lying there almost allowing the maggots to continue. The vet said it was only a matter of days before he was gone completely. What probably started out as a small wound, had escalated to a point where it was impossible to help him and clean out all of the maggots. To keep him alive would be cruel and the many doctors who walked into the room to examine Fatty said this was the worst case of maggots they had ever seen.

I don’t know who to feel worse for – the dog that had his face chewed down by maggots, unable to vocalise his suffering, seek a vet or just scratch his pain away, or the maggots who by virtue of their existence causes suffering to others. Can you imagine the karma needed to take such a rebirth?

We had no choice – we recited mantras, dropped blessed water on his lips and visualised his rebirth as a dharma teacher as the vet injected the drugs. And just like that, it was over in a matter of seconds. As the maggots continued their work, Fatty fell asleep for the last time (until his next life at least).

So now you’ve heard Fatty’s story, does this picture bother you? Does it offend your sensibilities?


No? Then what about this one?

Click for a closer, clearer look...or not.

Click for a closer, clearer look…or not.

Good because it means you have a conscience. It means you know dogs should not look like the second photo, but like the first one. It means you know dogs should be happy, content and not in danger. That dogs (and other animals) are equally deserving of a life free from suffering.

And yes, that second photo really is Fatty. That photo is not photoshopped, exaggerated or edited in any way. If you’re doing prayers tonight, please include Fatty in your thoughts. And if you see a dog suffering, please help it. As stray dogs are always outdoors, their wounds are infected very easily and their medical condition can swiftly escalate into something as serious as this. The vet said for Fatty to get to this state, he only need a small wound to be infected by one fly and within two or three days, this was the result.

That’s right, a small wound. Not an injury from a car accident or from a fight with other dogs. Just a small wound that could easily have been sustained scratching himself against something, anything.

Carry dog food in your car and feed strays so they don’t have to suffer from hunger. Volunteer and donate to your local animal shelter. Encourage people to adopt instead of buying lives from pet shops. Get a dog for the dog’s sake, not for your entertainment, to keep you company, to amuse you; please don’t go for pedigrees when mongrels have just as much love to give.

RIP Fatty. May you be the last dog to suffer so much pain.

, , , , , , , Animal Welfare

2 Comments → “Saving Fatty”

  1. Jim Yeh 10 years ago   Reply

    So sorry to hear about this. During my serkym offering, I visualized Setrap guiding Fatty towards his next rebirth. Thank you guys for doing your best.

    • Elena 10 years ago   Reply

      Thank you. I watch the video of him everyday, just to remind myself how much pain such a small thing can cause, and how little it takes for our lives to be over

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