Two-legged stray becomes international animal ambassador

15 April 2015

Lelly, China 2014 (2)

A two-legged stray, whose rescue captured hearts across the world, will now play a leading role in the fight against animal cruelty.

The inspirational dog, formerly known as Si Bao, has gone from begging food at a Chinese railway station, to being part of a family in Hong Kong and now an animal ambassador.

In her new role – she'll be the face of Animals Asia's Dr Dog programme – an initiative that provides people in need with a canine friend. In doing so it also helps promote dogs as "friends not food" as part of Animals Asia's work against the dog meat trade.

Just over a year ago after being abandoned by her owner, Si Bao and her puppies were living on the street and depending on the kindness of Chinese railway workers who fed her scraps. She had previously lost both back legs when she was run over by a train.

Incredibly, despite the accident – who no-one quite knows how she survived – she also gave birth and cared for multiple litters of puppies.

Her luck turned in February last year when her incredible story made international headlines and prompted efforts to rescue her.

Animals Asia founder and CEO, Jill Robinson MBE, followed the story and, with the help of the charity's Chinese staff, tracked Si Bao and her pups down. From there, with the assistance of dog lovers across the world, Si Bao and her pups were taken into the loving care of Dr Xue and his team at the Datong Meilian Zhonghe Veterinary Hospital.

Tragically, only one of Si Bao's puppies survived with the other three succumbing to distemper. The pup who recovered still has the "head nodding" legacy of the disease, but otherwise is happy and well.

After initially being looked after by Dr Xue and his staff, Si Bao and her pup were then brought to the Animals Asia bear rescue centre in Chengdu by Veterinary Support Manager, Wen Yan, who travelled to Datong to fetch them and personally bring them home.

Animals Asia vets were then able to nurse their wounds, while the rest of the team showered them with love – even including the likes of visiting celebrities such as Downton Abbey star Leslie Nicol.

Lelly, Muddie and team, CBRC 2014

It was Lesley who nicked her "Lelly" after a childhood nickname. Lelly's pup was also re-named Muddie – named after two of Jill's rescued dogs Muppet and Eddie -  Eddie had sadly passed away the previous year.

Having rehabilitated in Chengdu and completed quarantine in Hong Kong, Lelly and Muddy were finally home, safe with Jill in Sai Kung, together with her other rescued dogs and cats.

Lelly, Muddie and Animals Asia Founder and CEO Jill Robison (2)

Jill said:

"It's been wonderful to have them both back in Hong Kong -  they are absolute little divas and you'd be hard pressed to think that they once lived and scrounged on the streets.  Muddie is a complete little minx, and try as her mum does to keep her under control, she tears around the house, creating havoc wherever she goes.  Already, little wooden ornaments have been nibbled despite the fact that she has a whole toybox of stuffed animals to keep her amused. 

"Mum Lelly is simply phenominal – as she determinedly runs both up and down stairs on her two legs and jumps off the bed too! Just like our disabled bears, there's pretty much nothing she can't do and all challenges of life on two legs are there to be conquered.  Her best 'trick' is simply to sit and stare with the most beautiful brown melting eyes – like the cat from Shrek – whenever she wants to share my food.

"They are both beautiful in looks and in their individual personalities, and perfect ambassadors for their forgiving species, that oozes with unconditional love."

With love and support in return, Lelly and Muddie have become valued members of Jill's family, but they've also begun to have a wider influence in the community.

Having been named "honorary animal ambassadors" for Animals Asia's Dr Dog programme, their first test-run assignment saw them brighten up the day of Animals Asia office staff at their Hong Kong headquarters.

It is hoped that beyond ambassador the pair could also become animal therapists themselves – once they've passed the Dr Dog exams.

Lelly, Muddie with Jill and Animals Asia staff at Hong Kong office

With thanks from Jill Robinson to everyone responsible for helping with these two lucky, beautiful dogs:

Carrot Chen and our China Cat and Dog Welfare team
Sissel Eide Klemmetson of Norway
Rebecca Ashworth Toronto, Canada and The Laika Fund for Street Dogs Karene West, Tennessee, USA
Mr Zhao and Mr Fan, China
Mr Huang and Tina, China
Lisa Price and Hand in Hand for Asia's Activists
Panda Paws Rescue, USA
Angus's Fundraising page for DMT dogs and other animals in need
Wen Yan, Veterinary Support Manager, Chengdu
Animals Asia's amazing vet team and volunteers who looked after them both on site - nurses, Wendy, Vicki, and Emily, vets Mandala, Eddie and Jen, and volunteers, Lauren, Nat, Emily and Sarah. Especially to Emily and James for fostering Lelly and Muddie before they arrived in Hong Kong.