French writer and poet Anatole France once wrote, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." Many of us have pets and fur babies at home who we love unconditionally – we asked five of SingHealth's own to share their stories of their furry friends.
Sylvia and Toffee
Sylvia with Toffee the Pomeranian
How did you and Toffee first meet? Was it love at first sight?
My family and I were looking to pass some time before lunch at IKEA Tampines, and decided to drop by the nearby pet farms just to have a look, without any intention of adopting or purchasing any pets. It was on our last stop that day that we found Toffee. The moment we walked through the door and set eyes on this little puppy, we knew that we were completely trapped. It was, indeed, love at first sight!
Tell us more about Toffee.
He was named Toffee because he is brown, sweet, and loves to "stick" to us! He is a pure-bred Pomeranian that just turned three years old this October. His favourite past times are sleeping in our laps or arms, and playing by nipping at our hands and the air and then running and barking around the house.
Tell us about some of Toffee's quirks.
While he wags his tail left and right when welcoming the family or guests home, he wags his tail in a circular motion only when he sees me! Likewise, while he loves to "hug" and "kiss" anyone coming into the home, if I were to come home with my three children, he will totally ignore them and only "hug" and "kiss" me!
He's also very greedy, whenever I shout for my children to announce that their meals or snacks are ready, Toffee will be the first to appear in the kitchen.
If Toffee was a celebrity, who would he be?
Toffee is already a celebrity in his own right! Every time we go on a walk in my housing estate, he will receive compliments from passers-by about how cute and well-behaved he is – without fail!
Senior Associate Executive
Organisational Transformation & Informatics
Wen Han and Bo
Wen Han with Bo the Beagle
How did you and Bo first meet? Was it love at first sight?
Bo and I first met at a pet shop. It was pretty much love at first sight – I played and interacted with him for a while and he kept licking me, which I assumed was a sign that he liked me! I left the pet shop to get some lunch, then turned right back and brought him home that very day.
Tell us more about Bo.
He is a beagle and is four years old this year. Incidentally, his birthday is my start date at SingHealth! He's greedy and loves almost all food, particularly mangoes, and loves to go on long walks.
Tell us about some of Bo's quirks.
He has many more ticklish spots than "non-ticklish" spots! It's quite difficult to give him any scratches without also causing his back leg to shake back and forth uncontrollably!
How about a funny story about Bo?
My then-fiancee (now wife!) and I brought him to the photo studio for some pre-wedding photos, and the first thing he decided to do was to raise his leg and relieve himself on an artificial tree! We were so embarrassed.
If there was a soundtrack to Bo's life, what would it be?
Definitely some sort of relaxing instrumental music compilation – he's a very chill and sleepy dog.
If Bo were human, what kind of person would he be?
Probably quite a stubborn one. I've never gotten him to play fetch more than once, he prefers to sleep!
Tang Wen Han
Group Allied Health
Leonard and Mikki
Leonard with Mikki the Miniature Schnauzer
How did you and Mikki first meet? Was it love at first sight?
We met at one of the many pet shops in the Pasir Ris area. It was not love at first sight! Since I was serving my national service at the time, I was on the lookout for a dog that was affordable and "sturdy" enough to go on runs with me – she looked so dainty and small, but her "puppy eyes" totally bought me over.
Tell us more about Mikki.
She is eleven years old this year and is a Miniature Schnauzer. Her favourite foods are apples and watermelon, and her hobby is running around fields sniffing out mice or other little critters in the holes they've dug in the ground (that's what her breed is known for, in fact!).
Tell us about some of Mikki's quirks.
She has a ritual where she whimpers and runs around with her favourite pink bone stuffed toy before offering it to someone in hopes of exchanging it for a treat.
How about a funny story about Mikki?
Once, she climbed onto the kitchen table while alone at home, knocked over all the breads and pastries and feasted on them! When we got home, we caught her red-handed with a guilty look on her face and a very bloated belly. She must have been in great discomfort, because she proceeded to run around whimpering before vomiting everything out. She was totally fine after that and came to beg us for even more food after she emptied out her stomach!
If Mikki were human, what kind of person would she be?
A very fancy lady who is smart, beautiful and remains slim despite being greedy – an enviable trait!
Group Office of Patient Experience
Xin Yan, Panda and Mao Mao
Left: Xin Yan with Panda the Tabby; Right: Mao Mao the Tortoiseshell
How did you first meet Panda and Mao Mao?
We found Panda abandoned in a cardboard box with his brother (we named him Zhu Zhu!) when they were just born – their eyes weren't even open yet. We decided to adopt them both on the spot. Unfortunately, Zhu Zhu passed away three years ago due to an illness.
Coincidentally, we found Mao Mao around the time Zhu Zhu passed away, a tiny kitten cowering under a car and meowing loudly. We fed her some milk for several days after we found her, and then decided to welcome her to our family as well.
Tell us more about Panda and Mao Mao.
We named Panda for his black and white fur, which reminded us of, well, a panda! He is a ten-year-old Tabby, and his favourite food is milk, although he generally loves all dairy products like cheese and even fancy foods like vanilla ice-cream and cheesecake! His favourite past time is just being the centre of attention and all our affection.
Mao Mao is a three-year-old Tortoiseshell that loves raw meat like beef, chicken and pork. She is a very active cat and loves to hunt. She often proudly presents her prey to us after her hunts, which include rats, birds, lizards and cockroaches (yuck!), we're convinced she thinks this impresses us!
Tell us about some of Panda and Mao Mao's quirks.
Panda is quite a serious cat and has quite a temper. He doesn't enjoy being teased and is unimpressed when anyone tries to be overly playful with him. Once, while I was singing a lullaby to him, he found me so annoying that he pushed my mouth away with his paw!
Mao Mao, unlike most other cats, enjoys and looks forward to a nightly routine of strolling with us around the neighbourhood after dinner. She will patiently sit near the dinner table to wait for us to finish dinner, and then rush out excitedly ahead of us to get going on the walk.
How about funny stories about Panda and Mao Mao?
In Panda's most rebellious "teenage" days, he loved to defy us and intentionally do what we told him not to. For example, when we would try to look for him, he would purposefully hide from us, even leave the house for a few days for the fun of it! Thankfully, those days are over now.
As Mao Mao is one of the few female cats in the neighbourhood, we frequently have male feline suitors visiting our house who try to befriend and court her. Unfortunately for them, Mao Mao is sterilised and completely uninterested in them!
Tang Xin Yan
Institute for Patient Safety & Quality
Chen Siong and Nerd Nerd
Chen Siong with Nerd Nerd the Miniature Poodle
How did you first meet Nerd Nerd? Was it love at first sight?
My wife and I first set eyes on him at a pet shop. We had actually intended to adopt a dog rather than buy one, but it was love at first sight and we couldn't help ourselves!
Tell us more about Nerd Nerd.
Nerd Nerd is a six-year-old Miniature Poodle. We definitely got conned by his innocent and "nerdy" appearance when he was a puppy (which is how he got his name!). Now that he's grown up, he is far from innocent or "nerdy" – he's playful, curious, and absolutely loves the outdoors.
Like many dogs, he loves all kinds of treats, but especially the unhealthy ones. If there was one treat I would say is his favourite, it would be durian! For some reason, he can't get enough of it, he even gobbled up a whole seed once because he was so excited and couldn't help himself.
Tell us about some of Nerd Nerd's quirks.
Nerd Nerd is a very active dog and loves to run fast over long distances. Due to his "active lifestyle", he has developed a sort of in-built body clock for when it is time to go out for a jog in the evenings. At about 6pm every evening, he will remind us that it is time to go with some very dramatic verbal communication i.e. non-stop barking. We continue to be amazed by the accuracy of his body clock – it never fails!
Tell us about your relationship with Nerd Nerd.
My relationship with Nerd Nerd is complicated, and unfortunately changes depending on whether my wife is present or not. When she is not at home, Nerd Nerd is the sweetest, most affectionate pup and always hangs out with or takes naps near me. When my wife is at home, however, I immediately become invisible to him – he showers all his love and affection only on her instead!
If there was a soundtrack to Nerd Nerd's life, what would it be?
Hands down, it would be "I Was Born to Love You" by Queen, the "You" being my wife, judging by his extreme loyalty and devotion to her.
Chin Chen Siong