Ah Keong alighted from his bicycle. The sun beat down on his neck making him feel very uncomfortable. He was home again after a long day at school. Two o’clock in the afternoon with an empty stomach was not exactly pleasant, but knowing that his lunch awaited him made him feel better. He slung his schoolbag over his shoulder and headed for the front door.
From the corner of his eye. Ah Keong caught a movement coming from behind the house it was a brown dog, haggard, and dirty-looking. Ah Keong froze, for he did not know whose dog it was and whether it was friendly or not. The dog stopped and looked at Ah Keong. It was obviously startled. Then it folded back its ears and started wagging its tail. Clearly, it meant to be friendly. Ah Keong lowered his schoolbag to the ground and knelt on one knee. He whistled softly to the dog.
Happily, the dog came over to Ah Keong and crouched down at his feet, eyes pleading and tail wagging furiously. Ah Keong noticed that it wore a long chain around its neck and it must have been dragging the chain around for a while, for he could see open wounds on its neck where the chain had cut in. Ah Keong’s anger rose. Somebody had been abusing this dog and it must have run away. If only he knew who the dog’s owner was, he would surely give that fellow a piece of his mind. Neglect of one’s dog is one thing, but abuse is a vastly different matter a criminal one
For the moment, Ah Keong could do was to remove the offending chain, bathe the dog and gave it a meal, which it wolved down gratefully.
“I will call you Brownie,” Ah Keong spoke to the dog.
The dog, as if understanding what was spoken, wagged its tail in reply.
Ah Keong’s family welcomed the dog with mixed feelings. Some of them were happy but some were not too keen on Brownie. Ah Keong’s father, in particular, thought that the dog would only bring trouble, for it did not belong to them.
Nevertheless, Brownie stayed and put on weight and its fur became a beautiful brown. It became very attached to Ah Keong and followed him around all the time. It even wanted to follow Ah Keong to school and Ah Keong had to give it a couple of whacks on the rump to stop it from following him.
Time went quickly Then one day Brownie disappeared. Ah Keong searched high and low, calling its name out loud, but there was no reply. There was no sign of Brownie. It disappeared as mysteriously as it came. Nothing remained of Brownie except the rusty chain that Ah Keong once removed from it. So after a day of searching, Ah Keong gave up. He supposed that Brownie must have run back to its owner. He felt angry and wondered why Brownie would want to go back to the abuse.
Days passed and things fell back to its old established routine. Ah Keong had largely forgotten about Brownie. Homework kept him fully occupied. The final examinations were approaching and he had to spend a lot of time revising. Brownie felt like a dream, like a vision that came and went without a trace. AU that was left behind was a memory, sweet memory of a few joyous days spent together. Ah Well, Ah Keong thought, maybe Brownie will come back one day. Little did he realize that his wish would come true, but not in the way he would have wanted.
One Saturday morning, as Ah Keong was busy studying, he heard a commotion outside his house. Some kids were screaming. Some adults were also screaming. Ah Keong put his pen down and raced out of the house. He could see a circle of people consisting of adults and children just outside his front gate. They were all very excited about something in the center of their large circle. Ah Keong pushed his way through the circle to see the cause of the excitement.
It was Brownie! It was not the beautiful brown friendly dog that he once knew, but a pitiful creature standing on three legs. One of its hind legs was broken and useless. Its body was battered and lined with bruises; Good God, what a horrible sight! Tears misted up his vision. He thought; how could anybody do this to a dog? As Ah Keong gazed at Brownie and smelled the stink coming from the wounded body, he felt the rage rising within him. If only he could catch the person responsible for such acts, he would surely throttle him.
Fighting back anger and tears, Ah Keong thought that the least he could do was try to help. Brownie. He knelt down and whistled. This time there was no response. He approached Brownie and stretched out his hands. The onlookers gasped. Ah Keona hesitated. It was just as well he did, for suddenly Brownie bared its teeth and took a snap at Ah Keong’s outstretched hand. It missed, but the saliva that trailed out from the foam-filled mouth told Ah Keron an undisputed fact – Brownie had become mad!
Ah Keong stepped back. There was nothing he could do for Brownie now. It was too late. He turned back into his house.
As he Was going into his house, he saw two men approaching his house. One of them cradled a shot-gun under his arm. Dog shooter! Ah Keong thought sullenly: might as well put Brownie out of its misery.
The crowd dispersed when the dog shooters came near Everybody withdrew to a safe distance from the dog shooter’s gun. From the corner of his teary. eyes, Ah Keong saw the man raised his gun and took aim. Ah Keong closed his eyes and plugged his ears with his fingers.