Our lowest point in The Cameron Highlands came yesterday, when Andrew and I witnessed a terrible collision between a beautiful, gentle honey-coloured dog and a motorcyclist!
As with all accidents with which I have had the misfortune to be connected, everything occurred in slow motion.
We both watched as this gentle creature decided to cross the road at entirely the wrong moment and inevitably disaster struck.
The poor guy on the bike was as oblivious as they both came together in the most hideous of manners.
It is a sight and sound that I’m sure will never leave either of us.
We both froze for what seemed like an age as the flip-flop clad rider flew over his machine and landed directly on his head ten feet further down the road.
The motorbike came to a halt immediately on impact with the animal’s rib cage .
After what seemed like an age, which in reality must have been just several seconds, we both ran to the scene.
Andrew took care of the dog and me, the man. How typical!
The poor animal was writhing on her back in agony and the man silent and shaken.
I pulled him to the grassy bank at the side of the road. He was visibly shocked and bleeding profusely from his foot and leg. I tried to recall my days with the scouts and manouvered him into a position I thought was helpful. It was at this point, bloody and dazed, that he gestured manically towards his bike, which was still laying in the road. I realised he was more worried about his wheels than himself, so I jumped up and pulled the cycle and his belongings onto the verge.!
The poor animal, by this point in deep trauma, had thrown herself into an open ditch come sewer on the side of the road and was writhing in agony.
The entire scene was like something from a ‘Bosch’ painting!
I screamed at Andrew, probably in a ridiculous homosexual manner,
‘Get the dog out!’
We were both, in all honesty, terrified!
I turned back to the bloke on the grass. I told him to stay still and breathe, though I doubt he had a clue what I was saying. I took some water from our ruck-sack and made him drink. He did as he was told. I then told him I was going to pour the water over his wounds but he was too frightened to let me – it was then I saw his Patella was protruding, quite obviously, through his skin, along with some yellow stuff, that not being qualified, I didn’t recognise. I thought I might vomit, but I held on to it for once!
He, unfortunately, did not. One look at the mess that was his leg and he went most odd.
I must say, it didn’t look pretty!
I then looked to Andrew, who had managed to extricate the poor dog from the ditch and had ruined his new trainers in the process. I knew he’d be furious later.
The poor girl was obviously in agony. Whining, screaming, panicking.’
‘Do something’ I yell.
‘What?’ Andrew shouts back.
We’re almost having a domestic.
By this time we have several young Malaysian men, standing as an audience. None of them any help whatsoever.
‘A vet’ a shout to them – they stare back incredulously.
‘The police?’ I continue, ‘can we call the police?’
One of the men lays his hand on my back and shoots me a look as if to say there is nothing that can be done.
The pain of the animal and the futility of the situation then hits me hard.
‘A gun’ I ask irrationally ‘does anyone have a gun?’
They all shake their heads, but one of the guys who is quite unnerved by the whole scene, actually checks his pockets.
Had a weapon materialised I’m not even sure I would have known what to do. The only shooting I have ever had any experience of, is that of gunning down rubber ducks at the fairground.
Thankfully no-one possessed a firearm!
After some time the situation improved slightly. Andrew had managed to calm the wounded animal and he was cradling her gently on the grass.
He held her with such love and trust that she melted – her pain seemed to dissipate and for a brief moment everything was strangely calm.
After helping the other injured party into a passing car I made my way over to them.
We sat silent for a while as the spectators left the scene. A tragic trio bound together by an accident from which none of us knew how to escape. Andrew covered in sewage and me blood splattered!
I’ve heard tell of ‘the accidental tourist’ but here we were, the tourists accidental. No phone; no transport; no clue:
Eventually, the dog, as animals often do, knew best. She stood on her front paws and dragged herself, excruciatingly, like a beached whale, to a nearby gate – we realised this must be her home.
‘Carry her’ I screamed to poor Andrew.
Andrew, carefully picked her up – I managed to force the gate open and we layed her inside the grounds of the quite grand looking house, on the lawn.
I shouted for help but the windows were shuttered and the property was obviously empty.
Another dog roped to the wall by the side entrance looked on, bemused, and made not a sound.
Something silent passed between us all. A knowing that this was her place to rest. She did not want to move.
She began to pull herself further towards the house – her back legs were redundant – her spine was obviously severely damaged. She then lay peaceful for some moments.
We waited with her – watched – she closed her eyes.
It was heartbreaking.
I remembered I had my pad and pen with me, so I scribbled a note explaining what had happened, and jammed it into the brass letterbox outside the gate. I left our details in the vain hope that we might hear some news later in the evening.
She became very quiet. We stayed with her for some time.
There was nothing more we could do.
We stood slowly, and without glancing back, we left.
After a wonderfully relaxing afternoon, we had been brought back to earth, or rather, Tarmac, with a resounding bump. We were reminded that the unexpected is always lurking, menacingly, round the corner. Or in this case – on a straight, empty road.
The compassion and bravery my beautiful Andrew had shown made me proud.
The fortitude and steadfastness we had both exhibited, surprised me. It may sound conceited but if there is anything to gain from this experience it can only be this.
It was a dreadful happening.
It is some hours later and we still know nothing.
However, we do know how we reacted and behaved and that gives us some comfort.
The following day, after very little sleep, aided by much vodka, we still felt shocked and somewhat weepy.
We thought the answer was to visit a strawberry farm as a distraction.
Several Strawberry products later, including a jelly drink, which we had clandestinely laced with alcohol, we started towards the town. We were still debating whether or not to go via the house where the awful events of the previous afternoon had occurred. We were both concerned we may see something even worse. What if we had left a dead dog on a strangers lawn?
As we strolled up the hill, discussing the events of the day before, we heard a shout.
A young Chinese man, slightly out of breath was calling after us.
Shit! I thought. I bet Andrew had left our bag and passports at the Strawberry farm – again!
‘You, Paul Darnell?’ He asked.
I wondered if news of ‘The Lola Boys’ had finally reached South East Asia.
‘Yes’ I replied.
‘You saved my dog’ he beamed.
Andrew and I stood for a moment just staring at the poor guy.
‘She’s O.K.?’ We said, in unison.
‘Not O.K.’ He said, ‘her back legs bad – but she not dead – she stable.’
I grabbed the young man’s hand and Andrew patted him on the shoulder. We were speechless.
‘Thankyou, Thankyou’ the guy said repeatedly.
Tears welled in all of our eyes, we wanted to hug him but thought he’d had enough of a shock finding his beloved pet crippled on the drive.
‘She was so lovely’ Andrew said shakily, ‘we felt terrible leaving her but we didn’t know what to do.’
‘It’s O.K.’ The owner replied, ‘nothing you could do – no vet here anyway.’ ‘I must take her down to Ipoh tomorrow.’
The relief we felt must have been obvious to him, we were very close to bursting into tears.
Then, the most extraordinary thing.
‘What is her name?’ Andrew asked.
‘Loula’ came the reply.
We were dumbfounded!
Her name was ‘Loula’, she is a live dog!
‘We have a dog called Lola’ we jabbered at him over excitedly.
None of us could believe the coincidence – it was like fiction.
We introduced ourselves, and Clarence, as we now knew him, told us he had to work but that he would come to our hotel later in the evening.
We bid farewell and carried on up to the beautiful little hotel to which we’d been heading, and celebrated furiously with overpriced gin and tonics. Marvelling at the way synchronicity can flow your way in the most unlikely of manners.
We did cry a lot – it was, after all, miraculous.
As promised, Clarence met us a our hotel, and wanted to take us for a drink at the night market, where he and his wife were selling strawberries. She too was so grateful, and with note perfect English expressed her gratitude for what we had done.
We sat behind their stall, drinking beer and filling them in on all the details.
He told us ‘Loula’ was drinking and eating a little. We all considered this a good sign.
By the time we left we had learnt that Clarence was an organic farmer, and his charming ‘mrs’, Angie, sold strawberries during the day and was an English teacher at night. They were Buddhist, Malay, but of Chinese extraction and had a young daughter.
They were also caretakers of the large house to which ‘Loula’ had attempted to crawl.
By the time we left them we were more than merry, and it wasn’t just the alcohol.
They are such charming, generous people and full of warmth. Clarence wants to show us around the highlands in his jeep – between work and the vet, of course.
So ‘Loula’ has a chance. She may need a skateboard if nothing can be done, but the family certainly don’t want to lose her.
The dog definitely may have a future and we have certainly made some new friends.
Sometimes it really is ‘A Dog’s Life’!