JLE: (Jerseylife Editor) So I hear you recently brought a rescued dog back from Bali; what were you doing in Bali?
C: We temporarily left Jersey in February as Magda, who is a holistic & massage therapist, was professionally training in South East Asia and I was planning to experience some remote graphic/web design work while away. Our first stop was Bali, Indonesia and around two or three weeks after arriving, covid started making the mainstream news. We could have returned to Jersey but as Magda was a hands-on therapist and was unable to work at the time we decided to wait it out. It turned out that things never really did improve so we found ourselves staying in Bali for 7 or 8 months and enjoyed exploring the island with only a handful of tourists.
JLE: When and how did you find Madu?
C&M: During mid-July we were riding on our moped through a province called Suwat in the centre of the island after visiting a temple. It was mainly farms and woodland with very few houses around. As we turned a corner we noticed what we thought was a rabbit with myxomatosis on the side of the road. As we got closer we realised it was a small helpless puppy that was injured and covered in blood! In the middle of the road was a pool of blood and it was hard to think that so much had come from such a tiny animal.
The puppy was traumatised and screaming and crying; the most heart-breaking sound. We tried to get close to pick her up but she was so terrified and confused that she stumbled and fell into a small trench on the side of the road. She yelped in pain and just lay there crying on her side, unable to move and helpless.
Without knowing what to do, we called across a rice paddy to some locals who kindly came over to help. The Balinese gentleman spoke little English but enough to say that he was sure she would die if we left her. At first, we tried to pick her up using a plastic bag but she was so scared that we couldn’t get anywhere near her without her trying to bite and cry. After a while, the man gestured to his wife across the field and she returned with a thick sack, usually used to carry vegetables or rice. In some ways, it was lucky that the puppy was inside the trench as we were able to guide her into the sack using a tree branch. The local couple tied up the sack with twine and helped us attach it to the hook on the front of the bike.
We looked on the map for the nearest vet and rode for 45 minutes to get her there. I kept looking into the sack to see if she was still breathing and at some point, I wasn’t even sure if we would make it or if the vet would just recommend putting her down when we arrived. We heard her cries as we stopped at traffic lights but we continued on and eventually found our way to a vet in Ubud.
The vet put her on the table and took her out of the sack in a calm manner before investigating her injuries. As we had seen blood in the road we were almost certain someone had hit her with a car or moped but it turned out her head and neck contained puncture wounds most likely from a larger dog. According to the vet, she was just over 3 months old and in addition to the bite wound, she was treated for scabies (a parasite under the skin), worms and was of course suffering from trauma. Her hair had almost all gone and she just looked incredibly sad and helpless.
JLE: It must have been heart-breaking to find her in such a state. How did you help her to recover?
C&M: At first, we planned to look after her temporarily so purchased a few essentials from the pet shop on the way back from the vet. In the morning we telephoned a number of Animal Welfare companies and they all came back with the same response – ‘We are really sorry but we are completely full and can no longer accept any more dogs.’ They weren’t even able to hold onto her while we sponsored her living costs for the foreseeable future. The only thing they were able to offer was a list of Facebook Groups and advice to help find a new owner online. It turned out that we were not the only ones trying to find new owners for dogs and a lot of those dogs were in perfect, healthy conditions, so our poor injured pup stood no chance.
The only thing we could do is continue to show her love and she was treated to lots of dog treats and chew toys over the coming days. The vet had given her antibiotics and tablets for de-worming which we were mixing in with her food. We also used fish oil which did wonders for her hair growth. At the time she was so injured and hurt that she wasn’t even able to walk up the smallest of steps. However, every day we noticed one improvement after another and it really warmed our hearts to see that she was on the mend.
After about one week we decided she was well enough to go out for a short walk. At first, she tried to shake the lead off from her collar, very confused by the idea of it all, and got scared of almost every person and dog walking past. We had to give up on that first walk but by the second time she seemed to completely understand and slowly but surely she was able to start walking up bigger stairs without being picked up.
We called her ‘Madu’, which means honey in Indonesian and matched her golden brown, honey-coloured hair that we could see appearing.
JLE: When did you decide to bring her home and tell me about the logistics of that?
C&M: We both completely underestimated the attachment we would eventually feel for the pup and after just two weeks we felt completely inseparable. I think that seeing a pup dramatically improve in health due to our care made the attachment between us all even stronger. However, because we were 8 months into our stay our finances were limited and it seemed impossible to bring her home.
It turned out to be very complicated to transport a dog from Bali, likely due to the rabies outbreaks of the past, so we enlisted the help of a local animal transport agency. We contacted as many as we could find and eventually found one we liked but the cheapest option we could find would have cost over £3,000 to get the puppy to France! Or well over £4,000 if we went via the UK due to high flight prices and customs charges.
We looked on the website, GoFundMe and found cases of people in similar positions who were able to raise enough money to bring rescued dogs back home. This spurred us on and we put a lot of effort making a video to tell our story and explain our predicament. The first morning after making the fundraising page live we managed to raise over £500 so this filled us with hope and we were truly grateful to local media who featured the story and after about one month we had raised all £2,730. From the bottom of our hearts, we are truly grateful to every single person who donated and made it possible to bring Madu home.
However, we were not out of the woods just yet! The logistics were far from straight forward and involved her having various injections, a microchip and various tests before she was deemed fit enough to travel. She was to be picked up by the pet transport agency, driven three hours across Bali to take a ferry to Java and another two days drive to the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, before having a check-up at a local vet. It was here we planned to stay with her for one night before flying to Qatar then on to Paris. It meant she was in her crate for 17 hours straight! We were really worried about her. Due to the limited ferry crossings to Jersey, we decided to stay near Paris in the Forest of Fontainebleau for a few days, giving Madu some much needed rest and take her for some walks. Her Pet Passport was transferred over to an EU Passport and we drove the last four hours to Saint-Malo to catch the ferry.
JLE: I understand you were contacted to bring other animals back to Jersey. Tell me about that.
C&M: That’s right. Due to the fact covid had occurred it meant that lots of pets were stuck all over the world with their owners unable to retrieve them. It turned out there were three other dogs and one cat that had been stuck in Jakarta and their owners were close enough to Paris to pick them up. One person can take up to three animals on the flight so between the two of us we had five animals in total. It must have been quite a sight at the airports to see trollies stacked high with pet crates! It was an amazing experience to watch people be reunited with their pets at Paris Airport and some owners had even driven up from as far away as Portugal and Luxembourg. One lady had even attempted to get back to Jakarta despite the pandemic and had gotten as far as Amsterdam before being turned away. She was particularly emotional to see her pet again. (You can see her reaction and the whole story in our video on our GoFundMe page: www.ourjerseydog.com)
JLE: How is Madu doing now?
C&M: She’s doing really well despite the slight climate difference between the two islands. One of the first things we did was get her an extra warm dog coat but to be honest, I think she found the heat in Bali a little much at times, especially near midday when the sun was at its hottest.
Madu was even able to help us find a new flat to rent in Jersey as the landlord checked my Facebook page and found out about the whole story. Not only did she make a generous donation but even changed the contract to allow a dog to stay at her property. We were truly grateful.
Only last week, she had been tied up outside the Co-op Grand Marché while Magda was doing some shopping and managed to wiggle free from her harness! I was working from home at the time and the doorbell went. It was our new neighbour who said on the intercom ‘did you know that your dog is outside!.’ Slightly confused I went downstairs and sure enough, it was Madu in her shiny new coat with no harness. We were relieved that she was OK and very impressed that such a young pup had found her way home (four minutes’ walk away!) and, I guess, it’s a good sign that she willingly returned home.
By Chris Couriard & Magdalena Branecka