The Day To Day Responsibilities Of A Florist In Singapore

Although most of us are not foreign to the term Florists, we often underestimate their role. Florists do not simply collect, cut and arrange flowers – floral design is actually a form of art and there is a growing number of universities who even offer it as a Bachelor’s’ degree! Florists are part of an ever-changing creative industry and with the persistent demand for flowers for events such as weddings and birthdays, their lives tend to be busy all the time. But what do they actually do? Let’s see!

1) Arrange flowers according to clients’ preferences

As we mentioned before, floral design is no easy business and matching their creative ideas to their client’s preferences and the occasion is a difficult task. Doing this multiple times in a day can be draining; just like how writers get a writer’s block, florists get some thought blocks too!

Moreover, to arrange flowers for different occasions requires the skill to be able to switch the mood of the floral designs swiftly. Arranging flowers for a wedding or a birthday would definitely not be the same compared to doing a design for a funeral to send condolences.

Arranging flowers also requires prior knowledge and experience on not just design, but also on colours, textures and utilisation of different materials like ribbons and stalks.

2) Be open to different forms of floral design and arrangement

Floral design and arrangement does not simply refer those of bouquets, but also include displays done in outdoor event venues and houses. Most of these arrangements require designing to be done on the venue spot and not in the florist’s comfort of their own shop. For such occasions, florists have to visit the venue multiple times to look at the facilities available for displaying flowers and other accessories like vines and ribbons. They also need to take necessary measurements of the venue and possibly even do a dry run with false flowers to ensure it is to their client’s liking!

3) Maintaining and growing flowers indoors under the appropriate conditions

More than using their knowledge to come up with innovative floral designs, florists are also required to know how to ensure their flowers stay bright and fresh even after they have been transferred to their clients. A significant amount of knowledge in botany is required to know how to water flowers, cut them and store them with the appropriate foilage and support materials.

This is especially important in Singapore, where florists mostly get their supply imported from other countries. These flowers are usually sent in under special conditions and specific techniques are required to ensure they remain fresh.

4) Performing retail and logistic duties

Florists, whether or not if they own their own shop, have to inevitably learn how to perform plenty of retail and logistic duties. This includes attending to customers, taking orders through the telephone, receiving payment and keeping good accounting records. Many florists in Singapore nowadays have to go through established courses on floral design before they get hired, however it is still in their job scope to perform these duties.

5) Communicating with suppliers and wholesalers

Although florists are able to predict busy periods like Valentine’s Day or Graduation periods for local universities, they are also required to estimate the required stocks on a daily basis. This does not just apply for flowers, but also for all the other supporting materials they use like foil, ribbons, plastic coverings and stalks.

Estimating the required supply for flowers is quite risky more so in Singapore as flowers are perishable goods. To add to that, the weather here, as we all know it, is highly unpredictable. With the high humidity levels in the air and unreliable chances of rain or shine, having excess stock of flowers stored indoors is not such a good idea. On top of learning how to gauge the demand, florists also have to actively liaise with their suppliers and be on the lookout for cheaper and good quality alternatives.

Moreover, florists in Singapore import plenty of flowers all year round, and this requires some baseline knowledge about the blooming seasons of various flowers from different parts of the world as well.

6) Be responsible for a punctual delivery and reasonable pricing of orders

Imagine anxiously waiting for your delayed flower delivery on your wedding day! Flowers are usually the highlight of special occasions and it often can break the spirit of the event if they are delivered late. Florists hold a key responsibility to ensure that the timely delivery of the flowers simply do their job by brightening up the event.

Florists also bear the responsibility to ensure that their orders are reasonably priced as especially during peak periods like Valentine’s Day, flower prices can skyrocket in Singapore!

7) Educating clients on how to maintain flowers

Sometimes, clients might want flowers to be arranged and displayed to last for a few days for occasions rather than just a few hours. Weddings of different ethnicities in Singapore that last a few days, other festivals and processions in our cosmopolitan nation requires the flowers to last long. One big duty of florists to ensure that this happens is educating their clients on how to keep the flowers fresh by trimming and watering them appropriately. Florists are also required to advise their clients on the type of flowers to display, depending on how long they want them to last. This, again, requires knowledge on botany which florists have to be trained for.

That’s quite some things florists need to know to function in their job properly, isn’t it? An actively creative mind, organised workspace, strong knowledge in botany, hardworking attitude and punctuality – all of this and more is required to be a florist. Now we are certain that you wouldn’t underestimate the roles and responsibilities of our local florists!

What is a terrarium and making one yourself :)

WHAT ARE TERRARIUMS?

Have you came across the word terrarium yet has no idea what it is?
According to Masons Home Decor, a terrarium is a variety or single plant grown in either an open or closed glass container. Basically, it is a self sustaining habitat.

The closed terrarium is known for being a self sustainable ecosystem. This is because water in the terrarium is constantly  recycled. The moisture in the air condenses, returns to the soil and is absorbed by the roots. That being said, what plants do we put inside the terrariums?

It depends on the type of container you have chosen, if it is an open jar it is suitable to grow succulents and cacti while a closed jar is suitable for humidity-loving plant.

Have you chosen the type of vessel and plants you will be using?

WHAT is next?

Next up is to prepare the other items needed. In general the things needed are similar except the addition of activated charcoals to closed terrariums as they help to remove toxins and odors which is prevalent in closed terrariums as compared to the open terrariums. All terrarium need gravels, decorative pebbles/accessories, water spray and gardening tools (for the small area that your hands might not be able to reach).

Lastly, is making them yourself! The steps are explained in the infographics below,

 

Love the information? Share this image on your site!

If you have any questions, let us know! We are more than happy to answer them!

Next up we will share with you how to maintain your own terrarium(s), stay tuned! 🙂

 

 

Gift Ideas

Do you have your loved ones’ birthday coming up, looking for a house warming party gift or gift for any special occasion?

1. Colour Blocked Pots

These handmade pots in assorted type of houseplants are perfect as indoor decorations!

2. DIY Terrarium Kit

Premium Terrarium DIY Kit 001Single Jar Closed DIY Terrarium Kit

Do you have friends or family that love to DIY, this is the perfect gift for them! We have the Premium Terrarium DIY kit that is good for two people and the Terrarium DIY kit, for one!

3. Succulent/ Cacti Terrarium

Less is more, this simple succulent in a glass jar is perfect on your working desk!. Most importantly, it requires minimal maintenance!

4. Other Terrariums

Rainforest 1

Do you prefer something more complex, consider other terrariums that we have, such as the Rainforest Garden, which is literally a rainforest brought close to you!

 

For more information on terrariums you may wish to visit our Terrarium page!

5 Gifts for the Nature Loving Father

With Father’s Day fast approaching, everyone is scrambling to get the perfect gift for the best man in their lives. It’s high time to reconsider your gift choices for the modern nature loving father, ditch the tie clips and coffee mugs and check these creative nature inspired gifts.

Venus Flytrap Table Plant

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What’s more manly than a plant that eats meat? This Venus Fly Trap will be the best gift for the manliest father, 6 small fly trap heads move ever so slightly through the day snapping up small bugs or insects. Ron Swanson approved!

 

Camo Inspired Bouquet

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Who says only Mom wants flowers; get Dad a camo inspired bouquet with green fillers, snow leaves and nature shades of leafy greens. Reminds any one of a spiffy camp out with tents and green living. Stylish, simple and unique!

 

Cactus Desk Buddy

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A small window-side plant that is prickly and hard on the outside but soft and utilitarian on the inside? This Cactus plant is the ultimate tribute to the modern nature loving father. So minimalist.

 

Vegetable Bouquet

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Does Dad have a green thumb and love to cook? This lush arrangement of fruits and vegetables will be the most practical gift for the culinary inclined father. It looks good and cooks a wonderful salad immediately after. No carbon foot print and absolutely delicious!

 

Health & Wellbeing Plants

healthy-plants

A plant that looks good and does its job would be the ultimate plant. Well being greens like Citronella or Lavender, helps both your breathing and sleep. Some even protect you from dengue and other illnesses. Every dad would appreciate this!

So are you ready for a unique fathers days gift we have all of these and more! Drop us an email at floralgaragesg@gmail.com or whatsapp us at 8358 6728 and we can see what we can do for you!

 

Stay Fresh Singapore,

Megan

 

We’re Giving More Profits Away – To Animal Lovers League, a No Kill Shelter for Abandoned, Sick, Injured Dogs and Cats

For those who already know, we currently have an ongoing Christmas project to help the kids of Cotlands – a non profit organisation in South Africa that focuses on the education and social crisis in Africa by organising early learning playgroups and toy libraries in under-resourced communities. More about it can be read by clicking this link: Our Profits are Going to Africa to Make Some Children Smile this Christmas. Here’s How You Can Be A Part of It.

A New Project to Help the Abandoned and Rescued Dogs of Singapore

We have created a new Christmas project and in this one, we will be aiming to help stray dogs – beautiful creatures that we have a very soft spot for.

From 25 November 2015 to 25 December 2015, we will be giving 1/3 of all sales proceeds from two of our products, R02 – Spirited Away and C14 – Doggy to Animal Lovers League.

Why Are We Helping Them?

“With a rental of at least S$20,000 per month to cover, and more than S$35,000 owed to their vet, they mostly rely on donations from the public.”

Animal Lovers League (ALL) is home to at least 700 rescued cats and dogs. These animals that were taken in have either been abused, abandoned, sick, or injured. They are also a no kill shelter. This means that all the animals under their care can enjoy the peace that they will always meals to look forward to, volunteers to mingle with and care for them, and treatment should the need arise. They will never ever have to worry about the possibility of being euthanized. ALL’s efforts to save so many animals have put them in a very difficult financial position. With a rental of at least S$20,000 per month to cover, and more than S$35,000 owed to their vet, they mostly rely on donations from the public. They also depend on dog lovers to adopt their current cats and dogs, so that they may have more space in their kennels to rescue more animals.

With so many dogs and cats to care for, it is a blessing that they do have sufficient volunteers to help out. The co-founders of the shelter, Cathy and Mohan, have never failed to compromise on their own well-being just so their animals can have a better tomorrow.

Because of their lack of space, volunteers of ALL make it a necessity to travel to areas in Singapore whereby there are many stray dogs. These dogs are fed daily, and they are often taken in to be sterilised, and then released onto the streets again. Dogs are incredibly intelligent. When they know where to expect food everyday, they keep to themselves and wait for the food to come. They do not cause trouble by hounding people with food, unlike the monkeys you see in MacRitchie. The sterilisation also helps to curb their population growth. With so little organisations in Singapore caring for our street dogs, it is important that they be sterilised.

Their only fixed income is through a boarding service they provide. It costs only 5 dollars a day and it has not been effective in making ends meet.

Most of the dogs they rescue have complicated health problems. There is no surprise to why they owe the vet more than S$35,000.

My Experience With Them

For those of you who have read our previous blog posts, you would know that we are not affiliated with ALL in any way, but we love to help. It started when my beloved Jack Russell of 16 years passed away on 2 December 2014. My family, including my helper, are big dog lovers. We decided that as dog lovers, we do not need a beautiful looking pure breed dog such as a Golden Retriever or Labrador. Any dog can give us happiness, especially if there is that certain fondness of first sight. We sourced for shelters and found ourselves at ALL. We were so inspired and touched by the selflessness of Cathy, and it was there that we found Elliot, a lovely mongrel that we have grown to fall in love with.

Elliot just outside the shelter.

Elliot just outside the shelter.

Elliot when he first came to our home.

Elliot when he first came to our home.

 

He has since grown into a big boy now!

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A few months ago, my helper spotted a sick looking stray loitering in our estate. It was drinking from the dirty puddles of water on the roads and it looked like it needed urgent help. I managed to locate it and lure it back to my home. From there, we arranged with Cathy for it to be housed by ALL. My family paid for its bills and we named it after the street we lived at. It looked to be abandoned, due to its collar mark at its neck. It was also very domesticated, unlike a normal stray who would be very cautious of humans. His condition has since improved a lot and he’s now looking for a new home. He’s expected to be about 10 years of age. Due to his age, not many would want to adopt him. We would love to take him in if we had the resources but we will not take in any dog that we cannot care for.

 

We had to restrain Springside until the van arrived.

I visit him at least once a week to feed and walk him, but he still looks very depressed.

There Are More Dogs that Need Help

This stray that we rescued had a catheter inserted into his private parts because he could not urinate. He was suffering badly. However, there are so many other dogs that need greater medical assistance.

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Meet Ubin, a lovely stray that was rescued from a wild boar trap in Pulau Ubin. Ubin lost a leg due to being trapped, but he is so happy now. We cannot save all the dogs in the world, but we can do our best.

Please Note…

Floral Garage Singapore did not mark up any prices for our project with Cotlands South Africa and ALL. The decision to donate these profits is a personal decision made by us. If you have no one to purchase a bouquet as a gift during this festive season, and if you would like to be a part of ALL efforts, we strongly urge you to make a donation directly to them by clicking this link.

 

This Christmas, we want to be their Santa. Please share this post to spread the word 🙂 Thank you!

Our Profits are Going to Africa to Make Some Children Smile this Christmas. Here’s How You Can Be A Part of It.

Christmas is now less than a month away and Floral Garage Singapore has begun a really exciting project aimed to help a certain group of under privileged children in Africa. At the same time, we hope this would be an opportunity for you to remember the significant individuals of your life that you have always forgotten. By putting a smile on their faces, you will also put a smile on many more.

We have prepared two different set of texts, a short speed read for those on the go who do not have much free time, and a detailed read, for those who would like to find out more about what we are doing!

SPEEDREAD (for DETAILED READ, see below):

Treat your Loved Ones to a Beautiful and Affordable Gift this Christmas – and at the same time, know that you are responsible for bringing a smile to an underprivileged child in Africa. (We urge you to read the DETAILED READ as well)

This Christmas, we are collaborating with Cotlands – a non-profit early childhood development organisation. Our most popular product is the Freestyle Bouquet that is available at just 29.90 SGD. For the period of 25 November 2015 to 25 December 2015, we will be using all profits earned from every sale of the Freestyle bouquet to purchase Christmas gifts for the children under the care of Cotlands. A wish list has been generated by Cotlands and us. We will wire them the money needed to purchase the items in need and they will purchase it for us. Images from the results of the campaign will be published as well. Should the total profits from the sales of our Freestyle Bouquet be unable to cover the total cost of the gifts, we will top up the amount with our personal funds.

COTLANDS

DETAILED READ:

Christmas – as we know it

Children in Singapore are often reminded that Christmas is nearing when the malls they enter play familiar Christmas carols and display an extensive amount of decorations. It is common for them anticipate in great excitement, the gifts they will receive. As we become older, most of us might feel the magic of Christmas would slowly fade away. But for the young children, it will always be something to look forward to.

Although Christmas is supposed to be a religious celebration associated with Christianity, many non-Christians have developed a liking from partaking in the joy of giving and receiving. Unfortunately, not all children experience the joy of Christmas the same way an average Singaporean child would.

When we buy presents for our loved ones during this festive season, let us pause to think if there is anyone we are missing out. It could be your helper who goes the extra mile in service just so she can make your life better, or it could be the unappreciated janitor from your office who is always overlooked by everyone. This Christmas, let us remember the people that truly matter to society and our lives.

Meet the Children of Cotlands

 

Cotlands is a non-profit early childhood development organisation in Africa. They focus on the education and social crisis in Africa by organising early learning playgroups and toy libraries in under-resourced communities.

Cotlands was initially founded in 1936 as a haven for abandoned babies. It began one night when a baby was left abandoned at the doorstep of Matron Dorothy Reece’s home in Mayfair, Johannesburg. She decided to take the infant in to care for it and this single act of kindness sparked the beginning of something huge.

Cotland’s Vision: To see children in South Africa thrive in their formative years.

Cotland’s Mission: Cotlands provides children with effective, high impact health, psychosocial and early learning play based development opportunities to help them thrive.

Cotlands now operate in 5 provinces – Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Mpumalanga. Since their establishment, they have reached out and been a beacon of hope to thousands of vulnerable children. They currently provide a range of services to more than 8000 beneficiaries nationally in South Africa.

Cotlands

Why Did We Choose Cotlands?

Cotlands is one of the most transparent non-profit organisations in South Africa. They have just won their 4th award for transparent reporting. Click here to read more about it.

South Africa infographic

What Is Floral Garage Singapore Going To Do? How Is It To Be Done?

Our Most Popular Product

We are happy to announce that the Freestyle Bouquet is the most popular product that we have. For some months, we have managed to nearly hit 70 orders of Freestyle Bouquets alone. For a small online establishment like us, we feel that it is a decently sized volume.

For those who do not know what the Freestyle Bouquet is, here is a brief summary of what it is. For 29.90 SGD, customers can enjoy a beautiful randomly created bouquet, based on your relationship of the recipient, and the occasion. Customers cannot customise it by selecting what they would like (though we always try our best to accommodate), but they can state what we should avoid. For example, if a male is giving it to a platonic female friend, the usual request is to avoid red roses as it would seem too romantic.

Profits from Our Most Popular Product to the Children of Cotlands

Now that you know what it is, do you think it will be a great gift for your loved ones? Well if the answer is yes, and if you are going to be getting it, we are happy to let you know that by purchasing this bouquet, you will be indirectly responsible for bringing a smile to some of the faces of the underprivileged children of South Africa. Simply because from the period of 25 November 2015 to 25 December 2015, we will be using all profits from the sale of our Freestyle Bouquets to purchase gifts for the children under the care of Cotlands. We hope that this small gesture will bring them a meaningful and happy Christmas.

Together with the Cotlands, we have generated a wish list that consists of items that would benefit the children directly. Shipping to South Africa from Singapore will be expensive and we do not wish to waste any funds on shipping. Therefore, we will be wiring funds over to trusted members of Cotlands, and they will then help us to purchase the gifts locally. Images will be taken after the campaign and we will gladly publish it online.

What if there is a Surplus of Funds?

Should there be excess money after purchasing all the gifts that we have planned to buy, we will donate it to Cotlands in cash.

What if there is a Shortage?

Should there be a shortage, we will top up the amount needed to purchase all the gifts with our personal funds.

Cotlands

 

Our Hope

We hope that this tiny act of kindness can act of kindness can achieve two objectives:

1.) To create greater awareness of what the children in South Africa go through daily. Most of us fortunate Singaporeans know they do not have it easy. We hope to offer a greater insight on what really happens, and to also show that there is hope through beautiful organisations such as Cotlands. We hope that through this, we can somehow establish a donor base in Singapore. This would inevitably cultivate us to be more compassionate individuals. It will help us count our blessings and appreciate life like we should.

2.) To help Singaporeans remember the forgotten and unsung heroes of our local community. During every festive season, we usually get gifts for the ones we love. But more often than not, we forget those that we should truly remember. Sometimes, we even remember those that are ‘not worth it’ as we normally become blinded by physical beauty or social status. This unsung hero could be the office janitor that makes each working day of yours a happy one by greeting you with a smile and a clean environment, or it could be the coffee shop cleaner that goes the extra mile just to always be overlooked.

Cotlands

Here is an example of one of our many Freestyle Bouquets:

Our Freestyle Bouquet

Here is an example of just one of the many Freestyle Bouquets we did. It will always have a minimum of 3 main flowers, and Roses are the most commonly used. Click here to get this now for someone who you feel has been under appreciated! A small deed can go a long way 🙂

 If You Do Not Wish to Purchase from Us

It is perfectly alright if you already have gift ideas this Christmas. You can always feel free to donate directly through Cotlands by clicking here.

There are many ways to make a donation, you can always choose the method you are most comfortable with 🙂

 

That’s all from us! Happy Holidays! Take Care and Have a Meaningful Christmas 🙂

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What To Look For When Buying An Artificial Christmas Tree

As the years go buy, more and more people opt to buying artificial Christmas trees instead of live ones. The reason being, live trees tend to just last for the occasion and in a few months they would wither and die off. It gets troublesome to replace the trees year on year, and having an artificial Christmas tree saves you from all that worry. But what would then be the point if you settle for an artificial Christmas tree of poor quality, which would shed and look unappealing anyway?

Picking the right artificial Christmas tree is a skill that comes with experience and knowledge – and today we are here to instill that in you for you to make the right choice this Christmas!

Budget or Premium Christmas trees?

When finding a good artificial Christmas tree, the first question that would pop into our heads is how much are we willing to spend on it. Ideally, we would like this tree to last at least the next decade or two worth of Christmas and New Years at our home before we decide to get something else for a change. When we look at it that way, it becomes more of a good investment than something that you should stinge on.

If you would like the artificial Christmas tree to last you that many years, bearing ornaments, holding lights, and staying in the storage room for most of the year under different weather conditions, then you need to be reasonable on your budget for the tree. Spending less on an artificial Christmas tree is not a sin, and many people make that mistake. But you have to be prepared for the poor quality and how it would definitely not look Christmas-worthy at the end of the fourth or fifth year.

Be wise and make sure you consider Premium artificial Christmas trees in your choice. We don’t mean that they cost a bomb – in fact, they simply cost a little more than poor quality artificial Christmas trees. But at the same time, they are going to last you a lot longer and appear a lot more realistic than budget trees.

Look at the foliage

Foliage, or leafage, is what mainly defines the appearance of the tree. It refers to the density, colour and looks of the needles of a Christmas tree. This is indeed the main element of a Christmas tree and apart from looks, the durability and strength of the foliage also determines what kind of and how many ornaments or lights you can hang on it.

The basic role of an artificial Christmas tree is to act as a replica of a live tree, albeit some artificial Christmas trees are meant to stand out and look out of the box. The only way this can be achieved is through replicating the looks of a thick, fresh and dense foliage. That is exactly why it is important for you to look at this aspect closely.

Examine the artificial tree and check the appearance of the foliage first. Look at the shade of the green it is at, whether it has a plastic-like shine, and then move on to checking how it feels like. At this time, you should also be checking if the needles are strong enough to hold your favourite ornaments. Don’t be shy and feel free to check with the store if you can try to hang on the ornaments available there for you to test it out. It might actually then be a great time to make some ornaments purchase or get some expert opinion on the various arrangements and combinations from the store managers!

Read up about the technology behind artificial Christmas trees

Coming up with true replicas of real trees is definitely not an easy task – that is why plenty of patents have been put up for various types of technology behind such trees. One of such very famous and fail-proof technology is the FirTECT technology.

As the name suggests, Fir is a type of live Christmas tree and this technology adapts on the innate characteristics, traits and appearance of the Fir species of trees to replicate it. This FirTECTtechnology is a complex one which is used to make sure that every single branch of the tree is definitely accompanied with a dense foliage on it. Checking on each individual branch to have a dense, thick and rich foliage ensures that the whole tree is complete with the exact same look.

This technology also makes it a point to ensure that there are a generous number of branches fit into the trunk of each tree. The trees made with this technology are assured to have a special depth that no other artificial Christmas tree has.

FirTECT™ technology truly ensures that your artificial Christmas trees don’t just look like the real deal, but also feel and are durable like the real Evergreens. The FirTECT™ technology is only used to come up with Premium artificial Christmas trees so you won’t be able to reap the benefits of this technology with any budget artificial Christmas tree.

What are some brands of Premium artificial Christmas trees you should look out for in Singapore?

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As we mentioned, we strongly encourage purchasing a Premium artificial Christmas tree and one with the FirTECT™ technology would be most value for money, and suitable for Christmas for your lovely home. With this criteria, we would recommend considering and having a look at Masons Home Decor.

Using these simple four-pointers, you can land yourself with a good quality Premium artificial Christmas tree for your family this Christmas and the many ahead. Check out the hot favourite, Amazzonia Cashmere Pine Christmas Tree of Masons today!

She is the Ultimate Saviour of Dogs and Cats – Meet A Woman of True Compassion and Courage.

He hasn't forgotten Cathy at all :)

By now, you would realise that apart from having the love for flowers, we are also very passionate dog lovers. Today, I will be sharing with you in brief, the life story of a lady whom I have much respect for. I admire her strength, courage, and will, and I hope that my readers today can learn a thing or two from this post.

Her name is Cathy Strong. Together with Mohan, they founded an animal shelter – Animal Lovers League (ALL) (please click here to follow their Facebook for updates on their dogs).

As mentioned at the start, what I am going to write in this post is going to be brief yet insightful. The full and detailed story should be published by Cathy herself.

I first met Cathy one to two months after my beloved Jack Russell passed away at 16 years of age. When my family felt we were ready for a new dog, we decided to adopt instead of buy. For those of you who would like to know the reasons to our decision, check out our first article about dogs – The Truth about Local Pet Shops You Probably Didn’t Know.

Our Search for a New Dog – How ALL Captured Our Hearts

We visited many animal shelters with the hope of finding a mongrel puppy that we could really connect with. After educating ourselves about the dog situation in Singapore, we were determined to save a stray through adoption.

ALL

During a weekend in January, we found ourselves at ALL in Pasir Farmway. To be honest, the physical state of ALL is below the standards of other shelters. But there is a special magic about this place that kept us there a little longer than usual.

From what I saw and confirmed, ALL is home to about 700 dogs and cats. Some of the dogs looked really sick and injured, but there was this happiness in their eyes that helped me develop a certain attachment to this shelter.

Inside ALL

It is a struggle to maintain minimum hygiene standards at the shelter. With so many animals and so little volunteers or helpers, Cathy really looked like a superwoman at work. There were so many animals to feed, clean, treat, and walk. Every dog had a need. Somehow, by hook or by crook, ALL could fulfil it. I like to refer to ALL as a shelter of miracles. ALL has even seen a paralyzed dog regain mobility!

ALL

I immediately symphatised with Cathy and wondered how she could do this every day. I asked myself, doesn’t she have to go home? Doesn’t she have to work for her basic necessities? This shelter is big and so many of the animals look like they need frequent medical attention. How do they cope with the funds? Not to mention, the animals need food several times a day. I looked at the ground and the dogs were peeing as they please. My final question to myself was, how in the world does this superwoman cope!?

My Conversation with Cathy

I spoke with Cathy to find out more about the organisation and herself. As it is already known, ALL was founded by Cathy and Mohan (I have only had the opportunity to briefly speak with Mohan once, and that was about Springside, the sick and injured stray I brought to ALL).

Cathy developed a love for cats and dogs many years ago. She began as a feeder and would travel long distances just to care for and feed stray animals.

Through great blessing, Cathy’s home then was a landed property in which she rented for a very cheap price. She housed and cared for many dogs and cats. I cannot remember the number but I am absolutely sure the number was not a small one. It was also to no surprise that she received many complaints from the neighbours about her furry friends. She then had to move out of that home and rented another place.

Through their own pockets, Cathy and Mohan slowly built a pet sanctuary that many of the abandoned and abused could call home.

During the SARS outbreak in 2003, many of the cats she fed daily were culled. I believe that there is no relation between SARS and cats. For all we know, this culling was done to simply show that something was done with regards to the health crisis. This was heart-breaking for Cathy. She managed to save some of them by bringing them back with her.

ALL is a no-kill shelter. That being said, they will never ever put an animal to sleep. They also aggressively encourage adoption and responsible pet ownership.

Her Sacrifices and Worries

Cathy spends most of her time with the animals in the shelter and she constantly worries about finding money to cover the shelter’s expenses for each month. Their main source of income is through donations. Especially those who pledge a monthly amount of money to them.

Insane Bills With Close to Zero Income

ALL is already experiencing difficulties and yet their expenses are increasing by the day. Can you imagine? ALL’s rental is at least 20,000 SGD per month. Life is really not fair, isn’t it? But somehow, they have managed to persevere. Despite owing their vet about 30,000 SGD, their mission and goal will never change. Their strong characters are admirable and it would do them much help if other people practiced better consideration.

It is really ironic that ALL’s landlord are breeders. I am not quite fond of breeders. If you read my first article, you will know why.

She is always compromising on her comfort and standard of living by using her personal funds to fund the shelter. ALL provides a boarding service to help defray their monthly cost. They charge 5 SGD a day if you require their boarding services. A typical boarding home would charge 25 SGD.

Your Help is Needed

I have visited ALL several times and I am actually guilty for not providing much help to the organisation. It makes me sound so hypocritical to claim that I care and yet not do much about it. I am hoping to start as a weekly volunteer the following weekend and I hope to see you there.

ALL need all the help they can get. If you are unable to provide financial assistance, I am sure your time will always be valued. These dogs can put a smile on your face any day and any time. I urge that should you come, you come with an open heart and mind. It is unpleasant to see a volunteer pulling a long face just because he does not want to get his hands dirty. The fact that you are delegated to do something means that it is something that has to be done. I believe they are too short of manpower to be delegating redundant tasks.

I have started by starting a crowd funding campaign for a stray I rescued in my neighbourhood. For those of you who are unaware, check out these posts on how we rescued Springside, and an update of him.

Crowd Funding Campaign

I started a crowd funding campaign for Springside because his bills are expensive and the money we gave to Cathy can only cover a fraction of the total bill.

Since starting the campaign, I have now had two donations, amounting to 120 SGD. This may be a small and slow step, but it has motivated me very much.

I hope to be able to start a crowd funding campaign for the other dogs of ALL that are in greater need, and for ALL as a whole. If you would like to make a donation to the medical fees of Springside, please click here. If you are not able to donate (no obligations at all), a share would be greatly appreciated.

I guarantee that all funds will go to subsidising his medical fees and I will be providing some form of documentation to the donators when the campaign ends in November.

If you would like to join me on this adventure to raise funds for the lovely dogs of ALL, you could do so by emailing me at justin_chua@msn.com. I have a plan that I cannot wait to execute. I am currently trying to get a team of influential bloggers to create greater awareness with regards to this issue.

Thank you

Everybody, thank you for your time. I hope this post has provided you with a greater understanding of the dog situation in Singapore.

Just to side track a little, 2 months after adopting Elliot from ALL, we decided to bring him to pay Cathy a visit. He is extremely shy and is only playful with family. He is afraid of other dogs and strangers. We thought he would fear meeting Cathy just like how he is afraid of everyone else. But no, his reaction to seeing Cathy was just beautiful. She is truly the voice of the voiceless.

Elliot meeting Cathy for the first time in 2 months.

Elliot meeting Cathy for the first time in 2 months.

Elliot shaking Cathy's hand

Elliot shaking Cathy’s hand

He hasn't forgotten Cathy at all :)

He hasn’t forgotten Cathy at all 🙂

I suck at taking photos. But these are beautiful.

Till next time 🙂

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Using TaoBao.Com to get dirt cheap items!

What’s Taobao?

TaoBao.Com is part of Alibaba, the company that recently had the largest global IPO in 2014 at $25 Billion US dollars. The truth it, despite it making headlines all over the world, consumers around the world are still not aware of how this internet globalization of Chinese products will change our lives all over the world. I personally have used TaoBao.com for more than a year already to buy household items, clothes, shoes, toys and much more. Some of the materials we use to make our products come from TaoBao.com. We get it from Taobao because some of the materials are quite rare in Singapore and it’s way cheaper to order from there.

A story and a survey

In the past year, I’ve done a bit of retail arbitrage on Carousell, the popular marketplace App in Singapore. I created an account, accepted “pre-orders”, and shipped items to buyers in Singapore after they had made payment. The shipping time was normally 1-2 weeks, and this meant that I simply had to buy from TaoBao.com, and mail the items to them once it arrived, to earn a profit of up to 80% sometimes.

I was curious as to why people would buy from me at a few hundred percent mark-up instead of shipping from TaoBao.com directly so they could get it for much cheaper, so I started asking my colleagues and friends to find out. This was how the typical conversation went…

“Hey, do you know about TaoBao.com?”

“Er, the Alibaba one?”

“Yeah, you know that you can buy stuff very cheap from them?”

“Don’t know la…I usually buy from Qoo10 or other online store in Sg”

“Oh ok, I use Taobao”

I must have asked about 50 people, and this is what I found…

meta-chart

 

Obviously, very few people know of and use Taobao…

TaoBao is really, really cheap.

cheap la

Yes, that’s $1.77 SGD.

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How to buy from TaoBao.com

However, there’re some barriers to buying from TaoBao.com

 

  1. Chinese Language

These TaoBao sellers use Chinese only. So if you want to order from their website and your Chinese isn’t that good, you have to use Google Translate. Unfortunately, it is sometimes quite hard to understand what they’re saying. Fortunately, a little detective work can go a long way to helping you figure out what the product is about. You can read the comments by the buyers and also try to see other similar products to try to understand what they’re saying. My Chinese is really really bad, but so far, I haven’t ordered a wrong product yet.

whattheheck

Sometimes, when I face this problem, I translate it to Chinese, take a picture and ask my Chinese friends to translate it for me. Sometimes, if you don’t understand what the product is about, look for the next seller.

 

2. International Shipping Barriers

As TaoBao is in Chinese, it’s quite difficult for people to ship from them. It was only recently that China opened up their markets to the world, so many of the international shipping services we take for granted in Singapore are not available in China.

Shipping from TaoBao in the past used to be impossible. However, they’ve recently integrated a shipping forwarder called 4PX which makes things a lot easier. They ship straight to your doorstep.

First, find your product in the search bar. You can use English or Chinese. As I know a little bit of Chinese, I will sometimes translate from English to Chinese and mix and match the words to try to get better results.

registrationtaobao

 

Once you’ve selected your item, click on Add to cart. At this point, it will be good for you to take note of how many reviews and sales the particular seller has accumulated. You can also scroll down to see more of the product description, and see the reviews and comments from other buyers before you. To be safe, I never buy from sellers with less than 50 sales.

 

addtocart

 

For first time users, they will ask you to input your address.

new address

 

Select 4PX (It’s a forwarder), and click confirm. This is the most reputable forwarder on TaoBao, and it’s the only one I’ve used before. If you want to try the others, you can.

 

shipping

Submit your order again.

confirmorder

Pay using your credit/debit card.

payment

 

And you’re done! You can track your order on Taobao.com, under the “Order Management” Tab. They’ll ship it to your doorstep.

Alternative Forwarder (I Recommend using this option instead of the TaoBao one)

One of the more popular alternative forwarders to order from Taobao is 65 Daigou. 65 Daigou is a freight forwarder that charges the following rates. The reason people use 65 Daigou is that 65 Daigou will ensure that you get your product undamaged and that it’s the right product. They’ll check through the product in their warehouse in China, and repackage them as well. If the China supplier doesn’t send over the product to 65 Daigou, 65 Daigou will help you to liaise with the supplier, and refund you if necessary.

daigou shiping rates

agentfee

As you can see, it’s quite cheap…These rates mean that for a $1 item (Maybe a shirt), you only need to pay $1 + $1.50 shipping fee + 12 cents agent fee, that means you get your item for $2.62 total. It might seem like a lot, but take in mind that this is overseas shipping, so it’s really quite cheap.

It’s quite worth it to buy clothes and other items through Daigou as if you buy many clothes, and they don’t exceed 500g, you only need to pay $1.50.

You can also wait for a few orders in China to arrive at the Daigou warehouse before shipping to Singapore.

Step 1: Topping Up

65Daigou is in English, so it’s quite easy for most of us to do it. You create an account at the website: 65daigou.com

Top up your account. It can be any amount.

daigoutransfer

You can use any of the 4 options to transfer your money. However, credit/debit card has a 3% processing fee.

Step 2: Making the order

paste your url

warehouse

 

There are 2 steps you have to complete before your item arrives to you in Singapore. The first step is to wait for the items you ordered to be shipped from the China seller to 65 Daigou’s warehouse in China. This is the tab you click to check if they’ve arrived.

 

shippinghere

 

Once the item has arrived, you tell them to ship. Then now you have to wait for the parcel to arrive. As you can see, I’m currently waiting for one of my parcels to arrive in the Singapore warehouse.

shipping singapore

After it arrives, you can click on arrange delivery, and select any delivery option you wish.

 

warehouse

And that’s it!

Here’s a quick guide on their delivery process;

https://www.65daigou.com/Help/QuickGuide#Delivery

You can choose to deliver them to your doorstep, which will incur some additional charges. Usually, I’ll collect at the warehouse or neighbourhood MRT as it’s FOC.

Some Final Tips

Protecting your purchase

Buying from 65 Daigou guarantees that your product will come undamaged and that it’s the right one. 65 Daigou verifies the items you order in their warehouse in China, so any damaged items are returned. If your product you ordered through them does not arrive, they will automatically refund you the money, and cancel your order. They will also help you to contact the seller if the item does not arrive in a timely fashion. If you are looking for safety, 65 Daigou is the better option.

When buying from TaoBao, always look out for the reviews and comments on the products themselves. Try to find those sellers that are proven and verified, with at least 50 sales, and a good rating from reviewers. You can find these on the product page.

Look out for counterfeit items 

Counterfeit products are also very common on TaoBao, so when you see these items on TaoBao, you must know that they are not the real deal. However, I personally suspect that many of these counterfeit items are exactly the same as the genuine items. This is because most of the branded clothes and shoes are produced in China factories, so some of these factories also engage in some illegal selling on TaoBao. If you manage to find a genuine, branded item supplier on TaoBao, good for you! You’ll be able to get branded goods for 10% of their actual price. To be honest, many people go on TaoBao to purchase counterfeit items, so it’s ok.

Enjoy yourself!

IMG-20150913-WA0014

Daigou Package

Screenshot_2015-09-13-15-42-08

Daigou Truck at Clementi

 

 

 

An Update On Our Rescued Stray Dog, Springside – Every Share Helps

He looks really depressed. Probably because he was abandoned..

Hello Everybody,

 

Today, i’ll be providing an update on Springside, the beautiful stray we found and saved. For those of you who are hearing this for the first time, you can click here for the previous and first ever post about him.

The last time I wrote about him, we found him, fed him, and arranged for him to be brought to Animal Lovers League, a shelter we love very much, and also the shelter we adopted our beloved Elliot from.

Initially, I was not able to visit him until the following week due to my schedule. However, because he had to be admitted to the animal hospital, I was able to visit him almost everyday until he was discharged.

My First Visit to Springside at Animal Lovers League

The first time I visited him was when he returned to the shelter after his first visit to the vet. Because he was not urinating, they had to insert a catheter into his penis. It looked really painful but it did help in draining out his urine. I was told that he had a high count of white blood cells, which usually suggests that he is suffering from an infection. The vet also told the caretakers from the shelter that he is having some kidney/bladder stones which would require surgery.

Here are some pictures of my first visit to him at the shelter:

11918950_10154227031494741_5408529475259722068_n

He requires the help of a catheter to drain his pee.

He requires the help of a catheter to drain his pee.

He looks really depressed. Probably because he was abandoned..

He looks really depressed. Probably because he was abandoned..

He wasn't eating or drinking but he finished a whole bowl of food when I fed him by hand.

He wasn’t eating or drinking but he finished a whole bowl of food when I fed him by hand.

My Subsequent Visits to Springside at the Vet

A few days later, his catheter came off. The caretakers from the shelter also reported to the vet that he has not been passing motion. The vet could not diagnose him anything with regards to his inability to pass motion. All she could think of was that he was probably in a lot of pain and therefore decided to ‘keep it in’.

In my first post, do you remember that I said Springside was walking with a limp when we found him? The vet analysed him further and concluded that there was nothing wrong with his legs. As a matter of fact, he was walking in such an uncomfortable manner because his testicles were twisted. They performed a surgery on him to remove them. Can you imagine the kind of pain he was enduring during his time on the streets?

I visited him almost everyday when he was at the vet. I was able to do so because they had flexible visitation hours, whereas if he were to be at the shelter, I would not be able to enter after 7:00 p.m.

Here are some images from my visits to him at the vet:

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Back to the Shelter & A Crowd Funding Campaign

Now, Springside has been discharged and he is back at the shelter. I will be visiting him tomorrow (12 September 2015). At the same time, I would like to gather photos and stories of the other resident dogs of the Animal Lovers League.

The other dogs in the shelter have stories and beginnings that are far more heart touching and depressing than Springside’s. Most have been abused, traumatised, and abandoned in the most cruel ways possible. The reason why I am starting a campaign with Springside is because I have developed a bond with him and I cannot bear to let him suffer silently. My only obstacles are money and time.

Therefore, I have started a crowd funding campaign over here: Please Help Us Raise Funds for this Rescued Stray (click link to view).

The health complications of Springside are not as severe as the other dogs in the shelter, and his fees are already above 2,000 SGD. Images of the test results and receipts are below. Can you imagine how much the shelter has to pay for? They have about 700 dogs and cats, and most of them require frequent medical attention.

 

Please Help, A Share Would Do

I urge all of you dog lovers to support me in the raising of funds for Springside. Because the shelter has so many dogs to save, they are constantly in huge debt and making ends meet at the end of each month would be more of a miracle than a reality.

I’ll be writing another post about Animal Lovers League tomorrow. All shelters are amazing as they have the common goal to help rescue street dogs. But the story of Animal Lovers League simply blew me away.

If you are unable to donate, please help to share this article! An effortless share could go a long way in helping our best friends 🙂

If this crowd funding campaign can gather more funds than expected, more dogs can be helped, and the debt owed to the vet can also be reduced.

I will be providing proof to show that every single cent goes to the dogs. Whatever profits (if possible) will be reinvested to giving more dogs a better tomorrow.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

Airbnb Holidays Are Always Amazing! Tips For All Airbnb Guests – From An Experienced Airbnb Host

Hi There!

It’s that time of the year again, whereby you begin planning for a well-deserved holiday. You have decided on your travel destination, booked your air tickets, planned on the places of interest to visit, and all of a sudden you have coincidentally (and very luckily) chanced upon Airbnb’s website!

As a host, I have received many enquiries and met many guests from all around the world. It did not take me long to realise that I can truly maximise my guests’ experience by being the host I would love to have as a guest. But wouldn’t it be amazing if you, as a guest, can further maximise your Airbnb experience?

I’ve taken note of all the common questions and queries from my enquirers and I have answered them all in this blog post. I hope it helps all guests!

Here 7 tips on how you can maximise your Airbnb experience as a guest!

Read the Listing Description Carefully

As an individual searching for a listing, you would naturally want to browse through the images of the listing before reading anything else. Well, that is completely normal, but do bear in mind that a listing is formed by many parts and it is your duty as a guest to ensure that you do not miss any part out.

It is important to read the full listing description of the home or room that you are interested to book. It will only take you 3 minutes at most, and it will contain useful information such as what a guest can expect, presence of pets, what a guest can or cannot do, the nearby amenities, amenities within the household, a map of where the listing roughly is, extra charges (if any), and their cancellation policy.

What you can expect from the listing

What You Can Expect As A Guest

Can you imagine making a reservation for a listing that houses three dogs when you are totally allergic to pets? Or what if you were a chain smoker and this host strictly prohibits smoking, even in the balcony? This would definitely dampen your travel experience, don’t you think?

What you can expect from the host

Thoroughly reading through the listing description and the hosts’ profile also provides you with a clearer idea on the person or family that you are going to be sharing a home with. For all you know, your aim could be to spend quality time with the host to gain some useful local knowledge. But in actual fact, the host lives somewhere else and only meets you to check you in and out of the apartment.

Household and nearby amenities

Every Airbnb listing will have a map at the bottom. It saves a lot of time to actually analyse where the listing is as you plan for your trip. There is really no point in asking the host for information that is already provided! Reading this portion of the listing description is also of great importance as every guest has a different definition of comfort. That being said, if you are one who cannot live without the presence of air conditioning, you should never ever assume that all listings would have air conditioning available. You still have to check!

Extra Charges

Extra Charge

This is a question I never fail to get despite it being very clear on every listing. Do read this portion on extra charges very carefully! Do also take note that all of these costs are set by the host. Airbnb always provides a breakdown of what you will have to pay for, and the following will help you better understand it.

  • Extra charge for additional guest

All hosts have a flat rate per night. However, it is very common for them to impose an extra charge for every additional guest. For example, if the flat rate per night is 90 USD, and the extra charge for every additional guest is 15 USD, you’ll end up paying 115 USD per night.

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  • Cleaning Fee

Having a cleaning fee is very normal as well. This fee can very effectively aid your host in defraying cleaning costs. A cleaning fee is added to the total cost of your accommodation, and it is not charged per night. For example, if you are paying 115 USD a night, and the cleaning fee is 25 USD, a stay of 3 nights would cost (115 USD X 3 nights) + 25 USD = 370 USD.

  • Special Daily Rate and Weekend Pricing

Although all hosts will have a standard flat rate per night, it is absolutely normal for hosts to adjust the rates per night for certain days. If the following days of a listing is still not booked, the host might set a lower price specifically for the following few days, to entice viewers to make an enquiry and booking. If the dates you are interested in is within a festive period such as Christmas, the host might set a higher price for that period as it is considered to be a peak period. It is also common for hosts to set a slightly higher price for all weekends.

  • Security Deposit

Many guests misunderstand Airbnb’s security deposit and I would like to take this opportunity to clarify this point. Every host would usually set an amount for their security deposit. Do note that this deposit is NOT deducted from your bank account or charged to your credit card upon payment. This deposit is only touched when your host lodges a complaint against you. Airbnb will then investigate and decide whether or not they should DEDUCT this amount from your bank account or CHARGE this amount to your credit card. I have heard of guests who actually gave their host cash as a form of a security deposit. This is not recommended at all.

Cancellation Policy

This is something that angers guests a lot. There are times whereby a guest cancels a reservation and only receives a 50 percent refund. Naturally, they will feel cheated. However, this can really be avoided. Do be sure to check the cancellation policy of your host in their listing description. Of course, you should never plan to cancel a reservation that you have made, so do be extremely sure before making a booking! There are 6 kinds of cancellation policies a host can have. Each will result in different amounts of refunds. Check them out here: https://www.airbnb.com.sg/home/cancellation_policies

Communicate Before Booking

Contact your host before booking!

Contact your host before booking!

I know that I said that it is important to read the listing description thoroughly and that we should not ask a host questions that we can already find the answers to. But it is still important to chat with your potential host via the Airbnb messenger to give a brief introduction about yourself. You should include your name, who you will be travelling with, your intended dates of stay, purpose of visit, and more about yourself, such as your profession, hobbies you might have, and so on.

Not all listing descriptions are detailed. Some of them can be pretty general and vague, so feel free to ask any questions to clarify your doubts!

You should also upload a clear image of yourself (showing your face clearly) on your Airbnb profile. As mentioned before, the host will be sharing his or her home with you, it is only fair that they know who they will be sharing it with!

Don’t Offer to Pay Cash Or Ask For Discounts

This is something hosts receive a lot from first time Airbnb users. I understand that guests would always aim to select the most affordable option for their accommodation so that they can have a higher budget to enjoy other activities. In order to do so, some ask for discounts, and some offer to pay cash to save the approximately 12 percent Airbnb booking fee.

First of all, I feel that it is perfectly fine for Airbnb to earn that small amount of commission. Airbnb is brilliant idea and we should not just use it as platform to find and contact a host.

Secondly, booking through Airbnb PROTECTS you. Airbnb is not liable for any unforeseen circumstances if you choose to undercut them and contact the host outside of Airbnb. Should your flight be cancelled due to bad weather conditions or should you have to cancel your trip because of a newly diagnosed illness, you will not get a refund. Booking through Airbnb will also result in them being responsible for any difficulties you face with your host.

Please also refrain from asking for discounts. Granting you a discount is very unfair to all the guests who have booked the listing before you. If the rates of this listing is on the pricey side, continue your search for a more economic option. Variety and availability of listings is something Airbnb does not lack at all.

Research on the Culture of Your Host

Some cultures are more sensitive than others. It is wise to research on the culture of the country you are visiting. You do not want to unknowingly offend your host. Hosts are definitely friendly and understanding people. It is true that they will expect unpleasant experiences and take it well. However, if this can be avoided, it is safe to say that your trip will be enriching and one to remember. If you are going to be living with a conservative family, it is perhaps not a good idea for females to check in dressed in revealing clothes.

Be Prompt in Your Replies

A guest only has his or her upcoming trip to focus on, but a host has a whole month to plan for. A host has to worry about back to back bookings and ensuring that the room is ready for every guest who checks in.

Make it a point to exchange contact details the moment the booking has been confirmed. Share your travel plans with your host so that he can effectively forecast and accommodate his plans to yours.

This will also benefit you as your host can at the same time enlighten you on how you can find the listing, and give you some advice that can prove to be very helpful in planning your itinerary.

Be considerate – turn off ALL electricity appliances when not in use

Almost all hosts have a fear that turns into reality when their electricity bill arrives in their mail. It is painful for hosts to find out that the air conditioner and lights have not been turned off despite the fact that their guests have already left home 3 hours ago!

As mentioned earlier, hosts are friendly people by nature and bringing up grievances to our guests is something we always want to avoid.

Do make it a point to turn off all electrical appliances when they are not in use! Over usage of such appliances can lead to wear and tear issues that will affect the experiences of future guests.

A common problem I face is when guests eat in their room and the smell chokes up the air conditioner. This results in frequent leakage that can be avoided! It is really a hard spot to be in when your air conditioner starts leaking while a guest is asleep.

Be Friendly, Enjoy Your stay, and Leave a Review!

Won't you want to stay at a place with great reviews?

Won’t you want to stay at a place with great reviews?

Never ever be afraid of approaching your host. Your host will be more than happy to have a chat with you. The reason why we sign up as a host is because we welcome new experiences, friendship, and conversation!

When you return at night, it is always a nice experience to sit with your hosts on their living room couch to share the happenings of your day. It is also a great opportunity to get to know each other better!

Feel free to also provide feedback on how your host can be a better one. Airbnb is also about being part of community that grows together. At the end of your stay, do also remember to leave an honest review. A review is a great way to say thanks to a host you appreciate. It is probably the strongest factor that can help your host receive more enquiries and bookings.

Have a great Airbnb experience!

Well, there are many more points to add but these are the ones whereby I feel are the most applicable to all guests. Browse as many homes as you can, and make as many enquiries as possible. I love Airbnb and I hope you will too! I wish you a very safe and fun trip!

Belong Anywhere 🙂

How We Saved a Stray Dog and How You Can Too

This is a detailed documentation on how we saved a beautiful stray dog.

Sightings of A Sick Dog

On the nights of 27 August 2015 and 28 August 2015, my Dad and helper said they saw a stray dog that looked exactly like the one we adopted. For those of you who do not know, we adopted a saved stray, named Elliot, from Animal Lovers League (click HERE for their FB) earlier in January 2015!.

They also mentioned that it was walking with a limp and it looked very sick. They initially mistook it to be a female and felt it could possibly be the mother of Elliot, since Elliot was rescued from a construction site relatively near to my home when he was a months old.

 

The Beginning of Our Mission

I was determined to find and save this dog. A few thoughts came to mind but I first decided to inform Animal Lovers League as I might need their assistance the moment I find this dog.

According to my helper, this dog was most commonly seen at the park nearby our home. We therefore began this search at the park and covered a few lanes of houses nearby.

On 29 August 2015, my Dad and I went out to search for this injured and sick stray at about 9:00 p.m. We brought along a plastic bag of dog food and treats, hoping to be able to lure the dog. The search was futile but we managed to obtain some valuable information from some of the neighbours we conversed with.

 

Helpful Neighbours

We were walking aimlessly, hoping to bump into the dog by coincidence. We knew that we could not carry on like this because luck should not be the main ingredient of an accomplished mission.

We first approached the construction workers at two of the nearby construction sites but they claimed that they did not see any stray dog that matched our description. We also approached passers-by and residents who lived near the park. Through these conversations, we gathered findings that made our search a lot easier.

We met a domestic helper who lives nearby the park and she walks her employer’s dogs at least four to six times a day. She mentioned that this stray dog is usually at the park early in the morning from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m, and in the evening from about 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. She also mentioned that she suspects the dog survives on leftovers from some homes in her lane on a daily basis. Knowing which house feeds the dog is essential as dogs tend to return to the spot where they know food will be present. She also told us where she once saw the dog sleeping at 3:00 a.m.

A lady walking her Golden Retriever also managed to provide us with some useful information. She mentioned that this stray dog was sleeping outside her home the previous night.

I exchanged contact numbers with all of the people we talked to so that they can contact me if they see him again.

 

The Continuation of Our Search

On 30 August 2015, I began my search at around 6:00 a.m. After a good 45 minutes, I spotted the dog at the corner of the park. I was so happy and called my helper and Dad immediately so that they could help with the necessary preparations. Check out some images of this beautiful boy below!

First sight of the stray at 6:45 a.m. By looking at his neck, we can tell that he once wore a collar and has most likely been abandoned.

First sight of the stray at 6:45 a.m. By looking at his neck, we can tell that he once wore a collar and has most likely been abandoned.

The stray was extremely hungry and thirsty

The stray was extremely hungry and thirsty

He just wanted more and more! He must have not eaten for a long time.

He just wanted more and more! He must have not eaten for a long time.

I was following him around before gaining some trust.

I was following him around before gaining some trust.

He was really lovely and obedient. Unlike a typical stray, he was not very afraid of humans. Though he was a little cautious with me, he became less insecure when I began patting him and giving him more food. I followed him around the estate for about two hours.

He walked towards a domestic helper who was washing her employer’s car outside a house. He desperately tried to drink from the puddles of water on the road and I stopped him immediately. Thankfully, I managed to get a bowl of clean water from the helper and he finished the whole bowl at one go!

 

He Is Really Sick – Some Suspicions About His Past

He walked really slowly with a limp and looked really sick. There was a lot of mucus surrounding his nose, and he seemed to be suffering from some underlying conditions.

I saw him pass motion and by observing his watery stools, it is apparent that he has very bad diarrhoea. His urination is also extremely slow and disrupted. I can roughly conclude that he could be suffering from a prostate problem.

He looked pretty old. I would not be surprised if I was told he is more than seven years old. But there was one observation I had about him that lingered with me. From the previous images, you can see that there is a collar lining at his neck. This suggests to us that he has worn a collar on a very regular basis before in the past.

It is obvious that he once wore a collar. This explains his tameness.

It is obvious that he once wore a collar. This explains his tameness.

His excellent temperament and obedience also suggests that he was once a domesticated pet.

The shop houses opposite my estate were forced to move out as there are currently plans to develop a condominium there. I suspect that he was owned by one of the store owners there who later abandoned him when they had to move out. Of course, this is just a speculation and it is not worth to spend time speculating. For now, saving and treating him is my utmost priority.

 

Bringing Him Home

At 9:00 a.m. my Dad managed to get in touch with Animal Lovers League. The plan was to send him to the shelter and he would be scheduled for an appointment with the vet on the following day (31 August 2015).

I managed to gain his trust and he followed me back to my home. We fed him with some organic food and gave him more clean water to drink. He soon started to wag his tail a little and it was really a beautiful sight.

We had to be very careful and made sure that he did not come in contact with the grass in our garden or Elliot. He might possibly be suffering from tick fever, heartworm or have some other kind of viral infection that could be easily transmitted to Elliot.

Springside finished his meal so quickly, I did not even have time to take a picture when the plate was filled with food!

Springside finished his meal so quickly, I did not even have time to take a picture when the plate was filled with food!

We had to restrain Springside until the van arrived.

We had to restrain Springside until the van arrived.

Springside in the van

Springside in the van

 

To the Shelter – The Responsibilities of Saving A Stray

We engaged a van to transport our new found friend to the animal shelter. We had to give him a name for easier identification and so we decided to name him ‘Springside’ since he was found in Springside Park!

Springside was isolated from the other 400 plus dogs just in case he had something that could be spread. We met with Sprinside at the shelter shortly after he was transported there and we will be visiting him again soon.

We are currently awaiting news regarding his test results and we are hoping for the best.

By the way, Animal Lovers League is a no kill shelter, dedicated to helping injured and sick strays. That being said, it must not be treated as a dumping ground as a result of irresponsible behaviour. I will be writing another post soon to talk more on how they operate and also touch on the difficulties they go through daily.

Here are some things that the dog lovers need to know when it comes to saving a stray:

No matter what you do, be careful

Always have food or treats with you to gauge how approachable the dog is. Not all strays are as tame as Springside. Some are actually very fierce. It is always safer to engage the assistance of experts from the shelter.

Animal shelters rely on donations

Most shelters owe the vet too much money (as much as S$25,000 to S$40,000). Therefore, the vet will strictly disallow any form of credit payment. We cannot depend on the shelter to foot the bill as they already have so many dogs to care for. As a rescuer, we have to offer a sum as much as S$500.00 for the dog to go through relevant blood tests and vaccinations.

A monthly donation is necessary

Animal shelters that have no vacancies for new dogs usually suffer from serious manpower issues. If you do not intend to foster or adopt the stray that you have rescued, it is necessary to provide the shelter with a monthly donation of at least S$150.00. This cost can barely cover the daily meals of the dog. If is a dog which requires treatment, it means that the shelter has to fork out more funds.

If you cannot afford to help a stray

If you are not financially stable, do speak with the people from the shelter before performing a rescue or engaging them to do one. Most shelters might not be able to accommodate to a new stray as it might inevitably affect the other dogs who are already under their care. However, do still get in touch with them as they are beautiful and compassionate people who are fighting every day to give our furry friends a chance of a decent life.

Locating a stray

When trying to locate a stray, try leaving food outside of your gate. Dogs will always revisit a place where they think they can find a source of food.

 

Your Dog, Your Responsibility

Making a decision to own a dog is a huge responsibility that will be with you for about 8 to 20 years.

Before saving a stray, how can we first save a dog we would like to call our own?

Managing your finances: Visiting a vet when your dog is ill can amount to a minimum of S$250 just for a minor illness. When your dog is much older in age, it might require daily medical treatment which will be a cost as well.

Managing your time: If money is not a problem for you, ask yourself, is time a problem? Are you able to spend enough time with your dog? Bringing your dog for frequent walks is necessary for its mental and physical health.

Proper care: This is one thing that all dog owners must provide. If you take good care of your dog, you will not need to bring it to the vet so often. Not harming a dog is as good as saving a dog. Provide your dog with a proper and nutritious diet. Avoid foods that could be harmful to a dog. Improper diets can easily lead to common health complications such as liver or kidney issues. Having to see your dog suffer is a painful experience. Even if you are filthy rich and can afford any kind of treatment from the vet, please provide your dog with decent care.

Proper care and time are just two of the basic factors that can determine if your dog will be categorised as ‘need to be saved’ or ‘saved’. They are beautiful creatures that have emotions and they never fail to show love to their owners. No living thing deserves to be brought into a life of misery. If you cannot fulfil these requirements, you will not be able to save any dog and you should definitely not get one.

So, how can we save our beloved street dogs?

ADOPT!

If you are a dog lover, you might want to try adopting. Yes, dogs at the animal shelters are mostly strays and they might not be as ‘good looking’ as your S$4,000 pure breed dogs. But if you are able to meet one whom you can really connect with, why not give it a chance? It will be a decision you will never regret.

These strays come from extremely humble beginnings and they will truly appreciate you for giving them a new home. Unlike your pure breed dogs, they are never demanding, and they will always be protective of your family. It is as if they are trying to pay a lifelong debt to you!

The animal shelters in Singapore need to rehome the dogs under their care ASAP. I actually feel guilty by sending Springside to them but we simply do not have the means to provide the best life for him. The least we can do now is to visit him and try to pay for or raise funds for his future treatments.

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I urge you readers to spread the word on adoption, and raise awareness on the sufferings our abandoned friends go through. My future articles will be aimed towards raising greater awareness about the truth of stray dogs in Singapore. Some of these strays suffer very inhumane fates. Together, we can make a huge difference!