Local love: Chiaki and her Singapore Special

Previously considered pariah dogs, Singapore Specials are now finding a place in the hearts and homes of many here. Japanese permanent resident, Chiaki Kawamura, shares the joy and struggles of bringing up her nine-year-old mongrel, Esther.
By Pets Team
Published on Friday, 09 October 2015

Before this interview, Chiaki was unaware of the many negative labels that are frequently slapped onto Singapore Specials. “I did not know that some people thought mixed breed dogs to be less intelligent and inferior. In Japan, these dogs are respected and considered healthier and smarter as they come from a bigger gene pool than most pure breeds,” explains the Japanese-born permanent resident, who has been residing in our sunny island for 19 years. Chiaki doesn’t believe in “branded” dogs that people spend thousands on. To her, all dogs are equal, and deserve a happy, loving family. In fact, she went straight to a shelter, keeping an eye out for senior dogs in need. “I know many people only want to adopt puppies, but elderly dogs can be a good option too, especially if they’re healthy,” she shares.

When you decided to get a dog, did you consider buying from a pet store?
No, there are simply too many dogs to be saved in this world! My first dog, Minty, was a Shetland Sheepdog that I purchased when I was younger and did not know about the dog shelter situation. My second dog was an adopted Jack Russell Terrier cross named Roger. I decided to adopt again this time, so I can help another dog in need.

Can you share Esther’s adoption story?
I consulted Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD) to see if there were any dogs suited to me and my lifestyle. I found Esther there. Many adopters go in waiting to fall in love at first sight with the right dog, but I also considered practical factors like gender, age, size and personality. Appearance did not matter much to me—I knew that we would bond along the way. As long as I put my heart into it, I knew the dog would definitely respond. I went to ASD’s shelter five times in January to visit Esther and to take her on walks so she could get to know me better and warm up to me. I petted her, talked to her, and gave her treats. She had a “roommate” in her shelter cell, and was initially always hiding behind the other dog. On my third visit, however, she actually pushed the other pooch aside and bounded to me, as if to say, “Mummy, I am here!” It was then that I decided to commit to her, and take care of her for the rest of her life.

What do you have to say to people who find mongrels lesser than pure breeds?
There are many dogs in my area and we often bump into them, including pedigrees. Dogs couldn’t care less about whether their doggy friends are purebred or not—only humans do. There is no real difference, so you can't compare them. Intelligent and healthy dogs can be found in both groups, so you shouldn’t value any dog breed above others.


More more stories of paw-rents and their Singapore Specials, flip to People & their Pets of our Aug-Sep 2015 issue!