Button, therapy dog trained to understand Hokkien commands, died on Friday

Button the therapy dog, who was trained to obey commands in Hokkien, died on April 20, 2018.
Button the therapy dog, who was trained to obey commands in Hokkien, died on April 20, 2018.ST PHOTO: ALVIN HO

SINGAPORE - Button, a grey and white miniature schnauzer known for its ability to obey commands in Hokkien, died on Friday (April 20).

Animal welfare group Hope Dog Rescue shared the news in a Facebook post on Sunday.

"We are heartbroken and sad to say that one of Hope Dog Rescue's adopted dogs, Button (famously known as HokkienButton), has passed on two days ago," the post said.

"From the time she was found abandoned on the streets, to the time she became a therapy dog helping the elderly at the hospice, Button has always been a hero and brought joy, love, and compassion to so many, strangers and family alike."

In February, The Straits Times reported on the story of Button, who brought cheer and comfort to the elderly patients at Assisi Hospice, as a certified pet therapy dog.

The seven-year-old dog was abandoned and found wandering around a Housing Board estate before it was given to Ms Fiona Foo, founder of animal welfare group Hope Dog Rescue.

About 1½ years ago, Ms Foo began training Button to obey instructions and commands in Hokkien.


Besides one-word commands, it also recognised phrases such as "jiak yok chwee" (eat medicine), "tiam bak chiu" (put eye drops ) and "jip pang geng" (enter the room).

It visited the hospice about two to three times a month, and went around with a black and pink vest that read "therapy dog".

When news of Button's death broke, many people expressed their grief on a Facebook page that was set up last year to detail Button's life.

According to a post on Friday (April 20) at about 2am, Button came down with a fever about a week ago, before veterinarians found she had pancreatitis and a compressed spine.

Despite medication, its fever failed to subside.

"Then we found out her lung had collapsed and she had pneumonia. And then we found out she had an enlarged heart too," the post said, adding that the week had comprised a series of "unfortunate discoveries".

On Friday morning, Button's oxygen levels fell dangerously low, with x-ray images showing water in both its lungs.

A Facebook update at about 10am read: "Button lost the fight."

Comments began to stream in and continued over the weekend, with many Facebook users sharing how Button's story had left a positive impact on their lives.

"We will miss you Button! Your loving nature and unique ability to understand Hokkien will always remain in our hearts," wrote Facebook user Lynette Ann Liew.