Most of the news we get to read, whether in print or online, these days are gloomy stories of the increasing number of Covid-19 infections and fatalities or of politicians squabbling among themselves.
Over the past two days, we even got to witness more horrific videos of people jumping down from buildings or committing suicide by hanging.
At times, it might be a good idea to quickly turn to the social or entertainment pages of newspapers or skip the chat groups and news portals and watch comedy shows or thrillers on YouTube.
During these dark days of the pandemic, I think what we really look forward to are the feel-good stories which would give us a reason to smile again, at least.
Over this past week, the most heart-warming story I’ve read was that of a four-legged hero who saved a family of five in a fire which destroyed parts of their house.
Animal lovers, particularly those who keep dogs as pets, would surely be proud of this heroic act of their canine friend.
The incident happened in the early hours last Wednesday near Teluk Intan, Perak when fire broke out in the family’s single-storey terrace house.
The story goes that when a blaze broke out, the family’s puppy, named Anandaveli, repeatedly pulled on the clothes of her owner, Vimala Arumugam, who was fast asleep.
“I thought she (Anandaveli) was thirsty and was trying to find water.
“But suddenly I turned around and saw what happened — there was a fire burning strongly.
“I was so scared I called out to my children and ordered them to quickly get out (of the house),” the 53-year-old said.
Recounting the incident, Vimala said she managed to get her three children, aged 23, 22, and 18, out of the house to safety. Her youngest son, Vimalan, also managed to bring his semi-paralysed father out of the burning house later.
According to a news report, firefighters arrived at around 5.30am and managed to put out the blaze one hour later.
Vimala credited her eight-month-old puppy for saving her family and said the situation would have been unimaginable if not for Anandaveli’s relentless attempt to wake her up.
“If she did not wake me up, I think we would all be dead already,” she added proudly of her hero-pup.
Anandaveli’s heroism would long be cherished with pride and joy by the family and all animal lovers. I think a dog-lover friend in Kuching would be ecstatic to meet Anandaveli one day.
The best of it all to emerge from this incident is what we know all along — your pet dog is your real best friend forever.
Vimala said the puppy and their other two pet dogs have always been like family members to her, and they have kept her company during times when her children were not around.
“I will share my moments of happiness and sadness with them,” she added.
What Vimala said is possibly the most beautiful and meaningful tribute for a dog. The dog may be an animal but it is able to feel like humans too. Dog lovers can all agree that dogs can communicate and react just like us.
And this is one key factor why many choose to keep dogs as pets.
Those who love to keep pets also do so for a variety of reasons. Some said that pets, especially dogs and cats, can ease loneliness, reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
As Vimala has testified, pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Some also feel that caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active.
This makes me wonder whether those who had committed suicide just over the lockdown period could have been saved if they had a dog as a companion.
That is possible because if one really loves a dog, he or she would find it difficult to depart from a lover or a soulmate. To them, the dog has always been a loyal and faithful companion who has done no wrong in this world.
I am very concerned about the mounting suicide cases in our country and I have written regularly about the mentally depressed.
During the movement control orders between March 18 and Oct 31 last year, 266 people had committed suicide. According to the Health Ministry, 1,080 cases of suicide attempts had received treatment at public hospitals last year.
I will join animal lovers here by stating with much faith that I believe some of the 266 would not have taken their lives if they had a pet dog who would possibly have given them the emotional stability that they badly needed at those crucial hours nearing the end.
And that is declared with the belief that my pet dog will remain my best friend forever.
When humans can no longer provide the love and affection, our canine friends can.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.