“Ah, the 1960s Ramskay pets. Wira the warrior dog and Sura the super rat catcher,” recalled Affendee with a hint of nostalgia and fondness in his voice.
It has been decades since the 66-year-old retiree last played with the adopted pets in his childhood home in Kampong Wong Pow Nee at Bukit Mertajam. Now living in Kuala Belait, Brunei, Affendee shared the story of how these two pets made a mark in his life.
“Wira the dog was adopted because my grandfather was a dog lover. Sura the cat was a walk-in. Back in the day, we used to believe that a walk-in cat symbolises good luck,” Affendee told FMT.
According to Affendee, the names ‘Wira’ and ‘Sura’ were given to the pets as his grandfather had two hunting dogs with similar names.
Wira was the alpha male with a black snout, said Affendee, who added that dogs with black snouts are known to be fierce. This alpha male was from a junkyard dog’s litter who eventually made himself comfortable in the Ramskay household.
“Wira was brought up as a kampung dog. He was free to roam, and would often come and go as he pleased,” said Affendee.
“He wasn’t allowed in the house, but he had his own spot called the ‘Snake shed’. He also ate whatever we ate or the balance of it!”
According to Affendee, any festival or occasion in the kampung was also Wira’s feasting time, as everyone there had a soft spot for the village alpha male. There was not a person in the village who didn’t know who Wira was.
When Wira wasn’t busy feasting, he was training with Affendee’s grandfather to be a hunting dog. These training sessions involved the gall bladders of caught animals being rubbed on his snout as a memory bank.
“Unfortunately, Wira came down with a bad ear infection in the late 1960s. The veterinary department put him to sleep, and we buried him under the lime tree with some flowers, a glass of milk and a few coins.”
Affendee explained that in his kampung, any dead animals were buried near the lime tree and joked that the limes tasted better, “probably due to the calcium”.
As for Sura, he just happened to make his way into the Ramskay household with neither warning nor invitation.
“It happened late one evening after sunset while my father was having dinner. Sura walked into the house and my father gave him a morsel of food.”
Though Sura was an adult cat that just decided to ‘adopt’ the Ramskay family, he was no freeloader.
To repay Affendee’s grandfather’s hospitality and in exchange for tenancy, Sura made it his business to catch all the mice and rats in the house.
“He stayed in the house and slept under the stove – a conducive, warm place for him to sleep,” said Affendee.
Sura made himself helpful and stayed with the Ramskays for about four years before he disappeared.
“He left as easily as he came. Maybe he wanted to spread his joy to another family.”
Not one to end the memoir of his beloved pets on a sad note, Affendee shared a little story with FMT, one that involved one of his daily two-mile walks to school many years ago.
“There was this fierce dog that always barked at us and tried to attack us, so we would usually go with sticks and stones to protect ourselves,” recalled Affendee.
According to Affendee, he had complained to his grandfather about this predicament and the dog’s fierce demeanour in particular.
His grandfather then gave him a brilliant idea, which Affendee immediately tried out.
“The next day, we went to school armed with something different this time – buns rubbed with our body sweat, which we threw at the dog.”
“The following day we became friends, and since then we always carried tidbits for him on the way to school.”
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PET: FMT Lifestyle readers are invited to send in pictures (landscape format) and a short video (if any) of their furry, scaly or feathery friends to [email protected]. Don’t forget to include details like your pet’s name, age, breed and a short story about them.