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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Parenting

When pets are family


Pet owners find it most meaningful and joyous sharing their lives with their pets.

WHEN Primila Ganash and her partner took her in, she was already eight years old and blind. It wouldn't be easy caring for her and providing for her every need. But it was love at first sight and they were prepared to shower her with all their love.

"It was her first soft touch that melted our hearts," said Primila, 31, better known as Philo.

"We knew immediately that she would be a perfect addition to our family. And that was how an eight-year-old shih tzu dog Fifi came to rule their home and hearts.

An animal lover, Philo finds immense joy in adopting stray animals to give them a happy and loving home.

It's no wonder then that Philo considers her pets part of the family. Many pet owners, too, share her sentiment, showering their pets with the love, care and devotion they would on their children.

"Fifi isn't our only pet," says Philo. "There's our cat Tofu and Cotton, a little Pekingese, to complete our happy unit.

Lopez said he has never loved a dog the way he has loved Kent.

Together forever: Derrick Lopez said he has never loved a dog the way he loves Kent. Like a doting parent, Lopez threw a party for Kent with a specially-baked birthday cake (below).

"Of course, due to her condition, Fifi is given a lot more attention and is very pampered. We are her seeing-eye humans!" said Philo, appreciating the humour in the little pooch's unfortunate situation.

"It hasn't been easy caring for Fifi, but it has brought us a lot of joy.

"She hardly ever barks and is very mild-mannered. Some of her likes are running around in circles and sunbathing!" shares Philo who speaks of her pets like they are her kids.

According to Philo, even though her two dogs share the same living space with Tofu, all three get along well and behave like siblings.

"Tofu, however, has an odd habit of chewing on our hair. We are still puzzled by his obsession. Perhaps it's the delicious smell of our hair shampoo, who knows?" Philo says, laughing at her pets' antics.

"As for Cotton, his pure white coat was what inspired his name. We call him The Lion Heart, because of his hyperactive nature and continuous yapping throughout the day for no apparent reason. This ball of fluff turns one in March next year," says Philo.

Like doting parents, Lopez threw a birthday party for Kent with a chicken and cheese cake.

The specially-baked birthday cake for Kent.

"The crazy canine, however, has a bad habit of waking up at 7am every day and barking the entire house down, demanding to be let out. He then continues barking his way outside the house, tormenting kids and old people.

"He may be a tiny fella, but will go up against dogs twice his size," claims Philo.

"Honestly, I cannot imagine not having these friendly little creatures in my life.

"It is so rewarding to come home to the purrs of my cat. And even though Cotton's continuous yapping can get on our nerves sometimes, the household will not be complete without him and Fifi," concludes Philo.

Doting parents

As for Khoo Juan Lyn and Derrick Lopez, the saying that dogs are man's best friend is truly apt. Lopez' "son", Kent, as he fondly puts it, is a West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as a Westie. Khoo, on the other hand, has a miniature schnauzer called Hershey.

While Khoo has had Hershey since the day she was born, Kent was adopted a couple of years ago.

"We adopted Kent from a pet shop. His previous owners brought him in for his regular grooming session, but never came back for him.

"Giving him a loving home has been an honour. Kent is a fun-loving hyperactive dog and has been a great addition to our family," said Lopez.

Khoo Juan Lyn takes Hershey for walks as much as she can.

Khoo Juan Lyn takes Hershey for walks as much as she can.

And like doting parents, Khoo and Lopez have thrown birthday parties for their dogs. Khoo bakes treats for the little pooch on her birthday, and of course invites her dogs' friends over for the celebrations.

"This one time, I baked her a tiny banana cake and held a little party for her.

"My friends came with their dogs too, and they shared treats and played amongst themselves. It was a fun day out," she said.

Lopez, too, threw a little party for his pet.

"Last year in December, we had a party for Kent, as that was around the time we adopted him.

"We booked a space dedicated for pet parties and invited his doggy friends and their owners.

"We catered a special doggy cake (chicken and carrot), doggy pizza and doggy cupcakes.

"And of course, us humans had our share of human food, too," shares Lopez.

Dedicated pet owners are particular about what they feed their pets. Dogs require food that won't harm their digestive and immune systems, said both owners.

According to Lopez, Kent also enjoys certain human food such as char siew pau (pork buns) and cheese. Khoo, however, claims that schnauzers are quite prone to skin problems, hence their diet is fish-based.

Both Derrick and Khoo have special activities they enjoy doing with their furkids. In fact, their free time revolves around their pets.

Hershey and Khoo enjoy walks together every other evening and sometimes, Khoo takes her for a car ride too.

Kent, on the other hand, loves playing football.

"Kent plays football with the neighbourhood kids. He's also a natural at catching rats. If he sees a squirrel in the park, he'll go absolutely mad!"

Lopez said he didn't realise how much he loved his dog until he woke up from a nap one afternoon and found Kent missing.

"Honestly, the state of panic that hits you is like losing a human child. It's just horrible, thinking about the possibilities of my dear Kent being run over by a car, stolen or attacked by other dogs. Given Kent's friendly nature, he would be an easy target for dognappers.

"Anyway, it turned out that Kent had run up three flights of stairs and found comfort in a large flower pot. Being a puppy at the time, he'd climbed up the stairs and didn't know how to come back down. It truly touched me when my neighbours lent a helping hand to search for him. He's quite the superstar around our neighbourhood," adds Lopez.

Pet lovers are unabashed about how they treat their animals like family. It's all about the connection they share, and the comfort and solace the pets offer.

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