The Jason Hahn Files: Let's Talk About The Dog Whisperer...

"Saffy said she’s always wondered why people have shih-tzus as pets. ‘Don’t you think they look really snooty? And they’re so yappy! Snooty and yappy! That is not a good combination for a dog.’"

Amanda’s good friend Cecilia has a shih-tzu. Bonbon is 12 years old, which apparently is very old and lately, he’s been moping about the house. 

“He’s not eating!” Cecelia told Amanda over tea at the Ritz-Carlton. Her eyes moistened.“Well, he is 12,” Amanda pointed out. “That’s like almost 90 in human years.”

“Yes, but still. He just looks so sad all the time!”Later, Saffy said she’s always wondered why people have shih-tzus as pets. 

“Don’t you think they look really snooty? And they’re so yappy! Snooty and yappy! That is not a good combination for a dog.”

“You just don’t like them because they remind you of your mother,” Amanda said. 

“Yes, that’s very true. That woman,” Saffy sighed, her bosom trembling like a freshly baked Castella cake. 

“Talk about snooty and yappy!” Meanwhile, Cecilia had invited a dog whisperer to her house. Jane came highly recommended from another mutual friend Pei-lian whose Alaskan Husky had gone missing from their Binjai Rise home a few weeks ago. 

Apparently, Ralphie had wandered out the open front gate when the helper was accepting delivery of champagne for a party Pei-lian was hosting that evening. 

Amanda said Pei-lian alternated between screaming at her hapless helper and dissolving into floods of tears as she sent out the entire household to scour the neighbourhood’s narrow streets. 

Eventually, her daughter remembered that her school-friend’s mother Jane was a dog whisperer. “Maybe she can help find Ralphie, Mummy?”Which is how Pei-lian found herself WhatsApping Ralphie’s picture to Jane. 

After a few minutes, Jane called back.“I’ve made contact with your dog,” she reported in her clipped Katong accent. “He’s very frightened but I’ve managed to calm him down. Seriously, Pei-lian, you have to stop crying! It’s very hard to focus when you’re this hysterical, you know!”

It took a while, but once Pei-lian and her daughter had stopped screaming tears of joy, Jane said Ralphie said he didn’t know where he was, but he was outside a red house which amazed everyone, not least Saffy who, when she heard the story, wondered how that could possibly be. 

“I thought dogs were colour blind!” 

“Apparently not,” Amanda said. “And all this happened by canine telepathy? Amazing. So what happened then?”

“Well, Pei-lian’s maid got in touch with the local Maid Mafia and one of them said that about three blocks away, her neighbour was renovating his home and had just painted one of the front walls red!”

Saffy’s eyes were saucer-shaped. “Oh my God!”  

“I know, right? So everyone rushed over and there was Ralphie sitting in front of the house with the red wall!”

“Seriously,” Saffy sighed. “That is just the most amazing thing I’ve ever heard! But imagine if Ralphie had said he saw a white wall!”

“That’s why Pei-lian says it was impossible for Jane to have made any of that up. How could she have known about the house renovation let alone guess that Ralphie would end up there?”

Which is how Jane, now famous amongst the SCGS Old Girls network, found herself in Cecilia’s home speaking to Bonbon about his lack of appetite. After a few minutes of stroking the dog’s head and staring gently into his eyes, she turned to the anxiously hovering Cecilia and said, “Your helper!” she said. 

“Bonbon says she’s injured her left elbow!” Apparently, Maria who was also hovering, gasped and immediately crossed herself and dropped to her knees. She scooped up the dog and clasped him tightly to her chest. 

“Mother, Mary and Joseph!” she moaned. “Bonbon!”“You never told me!” Cecilia said, frowning. “It’s not too bad, mum!”“Bonbon says,” Jane went on, stroking his head as he struggled to escape Maria’s bosom, “he’s very sad he’s getting so old. He’s worried about leaving you guys alone. He wants you to get another dog so you won’t be lonely! Also, he wants to be put down.”

At which, Cecilia began wailing, and Maria dissolved into full-blown Filipino hysterics, invoking every saint she knew and shouting, 

“No! No!” It took a while for Jane to make it clear that she meant Bonbon wanted to be released from Maria’s embrace and not be euthanised. 

For days, it’s all we’ve been able to talk about. “That is just so amazing, isn’t it?” Amanda said. “First Ralphie, and then Bonbon!”

“The best part is,” Saffy said, “you can actually make a career out of it! Imagine the huge tips you’d make.”“You tink?” Sharyn said. “Singaporean so kiam siap. They ask you for discount ah!” 

“Oh, that’s so true,” Saffy sighed. “You really are the Singaporean Whisperer!”Sharyn preened. 

“I oh-so say.”

This story first appeared in 8 DAYS issue #1443 (Jun 14, 2018). 

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