Thursday, December 27, 2012

Swiss Adventures - Grand Saint Bernard

Dog lovers must not miss out the chance to visit Foundation Barry in Switzerland, which is named after a famous Saint Bernard dog that is believed to have saved the life of more than 40 people. 

The museum is located in Martigny

Following its creation in January 2005, the Barry Foundation took over the 300-year-old breeding kennel from the Great Saint Bernard Pass Hospice. This makes Foundation Barry, a non-profit organisation, the oldest and most important Saint Bernard kennel in the world.

Foundation Barry converted an old military arsenal to a popular tourist attraction

Museum entrance

At this museum, not only can visitors learn more about the history of the Saint Bernard, the Swiss national dog, but can also see the dogs up close.

A female dog and her 3-month old puppies

 Visitors can view the dogs at an indoor enclosure

The dogs also get access to an outdoor enclosure

 Visitors can also go outdoors to check out the dogs 

A puppy chilling outdoor

 I was also lucky enough to witness the feeding time for the puppies

I also had the chance to see the Saint Bernard up close. As I visited the museum an hour before closing time on Christmas Day, I was one of the only few visitors. I happened to see a caretaker and she offered me the chance to pet the dog and take a photo with it.

Check out the paws of this Saint Bernard. It is bigger than my hand. I was told he is a 2-year-old male dog that weighs 70kg!

If you can tear yourself away from the cute dogs on the ground floor, you can make your way up to the second level where you can see some exhibits on the history of the Saint Bernard. 

Don't forget to check out the gift store before you leave. You can take home a Saint Bernard as a souvenir. 

The Barry Foundation is a member of the Swiss Saint Bernard Club and is a recognised non-profit organisation. A team consisting of a vet, a breed specialist and 8 caretakers, is responsible for ensuring the dogs’ comfort and optimal development, as well as providing professional training.

I hope I will be able to set up a similar museum in Singapore through D.O.G.S, a dog welfare charity that I co-founded. With a museum as such, I can create awareness of dogs and educate the public on dog related issues. I would also include a children's corner so we can guide them on the proper way of dog handling.

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Swiss Adventures - Au Vieux Navire

The very first meal of this Swiss trip was a great start of my journey. In fact, I was so looking forward to it that I rushed for my connecting flight from Zurich to Geneva, with my luggage MIA, in order to make it to the lunch invitation by MB and SB at Au Vieux Navire . 

Au Vieux Navire, meaning 'At The Old Ship', is a great restaurant in the quaint village of Buchillon. If you make your way to this restaurant, there are 3 things that you must absolutely try - salad with the house dressing, filet de perches done the house style, and Crêpes Suzette.

 Filet du perches, or filet of perch, is a signature dish of this restaurant. It is served with pomme frites (French fries) and is somewhat the Swiss version of fish & chips.

In the menu, you will see that fillet de perhces are being offered in many styles. The most popular version is the house style, which is written as "a la mode Vieux Navire". I highly recommend this version as the hazelnut butter sauce is simply divine.

If you can't decide which style to get, then perhaps you can opt for 3 types of perch version, in which you get to try the three main popular styles.

The simple green salad ain't that simple here. It is dressed in a secret house recipe that is so delicious that it is available for sale. I am most certain that you will bring home a bottle, if not two.

Now for the best part. The dessert. This restaurant is famous for its Crêpes Suzette and I knew why after I tasted it.

The presentation was how Crêpes Suzette should be served. Cook a la minute in front of you. The waiter even told us the history of how crepes Suzette came about.

The secret to good caramelisation is butter, lots of butter. I would suggest you look away if you don't wish to know how much butter and sugar go into this dish. This is one dessert worth dying for.

The best Crêpes Suzette I have ever tasted. It is definitely worth the heart attack for this awesome dessert. :)

For more information, please visit

Swiss Adventures - A Visit To Tristan, Famous Chocolatier

You know you are famous when you go by a single name, just like Madonna and Rihanna. Ask any Swiss who they think is one of the finest chocolatiers in Switzerland, and you will most certainly get Tristan as a reply. A gift of Tristan chocolates to your Swiss host will definitely get you adoration and street cred.

Tristan Carbonatto is one of the finest chocolatiers in Switzerland. In 1998, Tristan opened his little shop in Bougy-Villars, a quiet village near Nyon. Today, his shop is a tourist attraction and a must-visit even for locals. I was told that the  police had to be called in every Easter to direct the traffic. This is the magnitude of his fame and the quality of his chocolates. A Swiss magazine even gave him the title of 'The Prince of Chocolate'.

Thanks to our good friends MB and SB, we got to meet the man up close and personal. Tristan invited us to step into his workshop and showed us what he is working on for next Christmas. Yes, you read this correctly, Tristan is working on his next Christmas product range. 

Despite his immense fame, Tristan is nice and friendly. He gave us a demo and a sneak preview of what to expect for Christmas next year. He took some inspirations from a children's book with animal illustrations.

The prototype is ready. A gorgeous Christmas snow globe! I want one for next year.

Now, a look around the shop and check out the chocolates for the festive season...

The shop is decked out in Christmas decoration

Love the window display. So elegant.

The cashier counter

White chocolate angel wings and milk chocolate Santa Clauses

Tristan encourages his customers to try the chocolates before they buy. However, one will have to make a chocolate pilgrimage to taste them because he does not export out of the little town. 

I bought his festive pack that contains a wide variety of his creations. Sorta like a degustation menu.

Using only the best and freshest ingredients, his chocolates are free from preservatives and are best consumed within 10 days of purchase. That explains why Tristan does not export his chocolates.

He also does lots of customisation projects for his clients. Tristan's magic transcends into architecture, for he creates miniature landscapes out of chocolate.

For more information, please visit

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The True Price Of Helping A Dog

After getting involved in dog welfare volunteer work for almost a year, I know more now than I did years ago. This blog entry is to share with you the true price of helping a dog, so you can make informed decisions on how you can help as an individual. When I decided to start D.O.G.S with my like-minded friends, my objective is for it to be a positive organisation that can support other dog welfare groups, as well as raise awareness through public education and understanding.

You can make a difference as an individual. Yes, you can! Here's how...

1. Volunteer at a dog shelter  
Apart from SPCA, there are also many dog shelters in Pasir Ris Farmway Drive and Lim Chu Kang. Even if you can only volunteer your time once in a while, the dogs are happy to be walked and given some TLC. Every shelter needs volunteers, so write to one and find out how you can help.

I volunteer at Madam Wong's Shelter when I have spare time. I walk and bathe some of the difficult dogs. I also rehabilitate some dogs with fear and aggression issues.

2. Foster a dog
This is good for those who want to help a dog on a short-term basis. Usually, puppies and recuperating dogs would need a home environment. If you love dogs, you can consider opening up your home for a needy dog.

Peanut and Butter are puppies that have been recently rescued by Uncle Khoe's Shelter. They are looking for foster homes before the adoption drives. Shelters are no place for young growing puppies. Please send D.O.G.S a message if you are able to foster them.

3. Adopt a dog
If you are looking to have a pet dog, consider adopting instead of buying one. Many shelters offer dogs of different size and age. So do look around and you may find your ideal dog mate. You don't just save money, you save two lives. How so? You save the life of the dog you adopt, and you free up the kennel space for another dog to be rescued. Good deal!

Many shelters have Facebook pages where you can also browse the dogs that are up for adoption. SPCA has an adoption gallery and its website provides useful information about adoption, as well as a list of dogs that are HDB-approved.

4. Do not support puppy farms and unethical breeders
If you absolutely have to buy a puppy, please do your research and buy from a reputable and ethical breeder. There are many puppy farms out there and way too many unethical breeders. I wrote about the ugly truth of puppy mills last year.

Visit to learn how you can spot a puppy mill or unethical breeder. Let's put an end to this cruelty. Even if you are not buying a dog, you can share the information and create awareness about this cruel trade of dog breeding.

5. What if you found a dog?
Say you found a dog while you were out, what should you do? Call AVA or SPCA? Are you sending the dog to its death sentence? This is what you can do.

Step 1 - Check if the dog has a dog tag with a contact number. If there's a contact number, the lost dog can be easily reunited with its owner.

Step 2 - If the dog has no tag, you can contact SPCA to check if anyone reported a lost dog of similar physical attributes. It is also important to note down the date, time and location that you found the dog. You can also bring it to the nearest vet to check if the dog has a microchip. If the dog has a microchip and is licensed with AVA, you will be able to help locate its owner.

Step 3 - If the dog has no tag and no microchip, you can try to foster the dog in the meantime, while trying to locate its owner by sharing the info and photos on Facebook, putting up posters in the area where you found the dog, and asking SPCA to post the info on their website.

It is a big misconception that you are sending a dog to its death by calling SPCA. What SPCA does is to find a fosterer for the dog while trying to locate the owner. SPCA will actually ask the person who found the dog to foster if possible. Many people don't know that SPCA will put out classified ads for lost dogs. They also try to foster and rehome the dogs to the best they can. Unfortunately, some dogs may have to be euthanised in the process if they are unsuitable to be rehomed due to temperament, age or health conditions.

6. What if you found a stray dog?
If you find a healthy stray dog, leave it be as long as it is not aggressive and poses no threat. If you have found an abused stray dog, please do call the SPCA and report the animal abuse. If you found an injured stray dog, you can try contacting dog welfare organisations such as HOPE Dog Rescue to see if they can assist. Otherwise, you can choose to bring the dog to the vet and pay for its medical bill, foster it till it gets better. After which you can try to rehome it or set it free where you found it.

This is the true price of dog rescue and welfare work. Instead of being a keyboard warrior by criticizing and pointing fingers at AVA or SPCA for having to put some dogs to sleep, you can choose to help solve the overall big problem in your own little ways. Making informed decisions and doing what you can, this is how we can make Singapore a better place for our canine friends.

Last but not least, if you are a dog owner, please be a responsible dog owner and don't abandon your dog. *woof*

Saturday, October 20, 2012

D.O.G.S Updates

I first wrote about D.O.G.S in July and it's time to give you all an update. D.O.G.S has been incorporated as a company limited by guarantee and is now in the process of applying for charity and IPC status. What that means is we will be able to enjoy tax free donations while donors will enjoy tax exemption benefits on the amount they donated. This is the most efficient and effective way to ensure all proceeds go towards helping the dogs. In future, all donations that we have collected are 100% going towards dog welfare, and no one in the organisation will be drawing any salary at all. This is our pledge to the dogs and our supporters.

It is only when we get charity status that we will start campaigning for donations. In the meantime, my co-founder Manida, and I are still using our own money to help the dogs. Here's a quick look at what we have been doing the past months...

D.O.G.S has been featured in the Oct/Nov issue of Pets magazine. The article talks about how we rehabilitate dogs to improve their quality of life at the dog shelters. If you like what we do, please LIKE our D.O.G.S Facebook Page and share it with your friends.

For the month of September, I also did a private donation drive for dog food for Madam Wong's Shelter. I am thankful to all the friends who responded and donated generously. Together, we raised 156 cartons, which is a total of 1,872 cans of dog food worth over $4,680. The dogs are happy, so are we.

While Manida and I were in Perth for work in September, we visited Shenton Park Dogs' Refuge Home and the West Australian Guide Dog Association. At the Dogs' Refuge Home, we learn why this established dog shelter has a high success rate in re-homing the rescued dogs, as well as the good practices and volunteer training program that they have in place. We hope to be able implement some of these good practices in the dog shelters in Singapore.
 Shenton Park Dogs' Refuge Home in Perth

Manida and I with the guide dogs in training at WA Guide Dog Association

With the festive season just around the corner, we have decided to launch some cute merchandise for sale to raise funds to help the doggies.

The first batch of our limited edition D.O.G.S button badges. These are given to those who have supported us and to those who purchase 5 packs or more of our Charity X'mas Cards. 

The limited edition X'mas cards in aid of Madam Wong's Shelter. The cute illustrations were done by Melissa Tan, a talented artist who is also a volunteer at the shelter. The dogs in the pictures were dogs that D.O.G.S have rehabilitated. Each pack costs S$8 and consists of 4 cards in different designs. The response have been overwhelming and they are almost sold out. We will raise over S$2,800 from this charity drive and will be using the money towards the medical welfare of the dogs at Madam Wong's Shelter.

For more information, you can visit us on D.O.G.S Facebook page.