Originally born into wealth, Mrs. Tuyet’s family was forced to leave with nothing due to a certain event. Now alone and penniless, she finds contentment in the company of a multitude of cats and dogs.
Pointing to a remarkable yellow cat among the collection of animals she cares for, Nguyen Thi Anh Tuyet (a 60-year-old resident of District 12, Ho Chi Minh City) recounts its recent ordeal: “This precious feline just gave birth to three kittens, and for a moment, I thought they were taken away. It left me heartbroken. Fortunately, she managed to escape and return, ensuring the little ones could continue nursing.”
Among her pets is a dog she has raised for almost a decade. Mrs. Tuyet recalls, “When I first found them, they were covered in mange. Many people ridiculed me, but their mockery only fueled my determination to care for them. Now, I’m healthy, and so are they!” She laughs heartily.
In her cramped dwelling, furniture is piled high, leaving only a narrow path for her to traverse. Within this space, Mrs. Tuyet tends to her six dogs and seven cats. She walks barefoot, scavenging the streets for discarded bottles to sell, using the proceeds to buy food for her beloved animals.
“No matter what I eat, they eat too, and it doesn’t cost much,” Mrs. Tuyet says with a joyful smile, as she affectionately strokes the dogs surrounding her.
For the past 26 years, Ms. Tuyet has been the sole caretaker of these dogs and cats. She finds it difficult to put into words the indescribable affection she feels for them.
Each morning, Mrs. Tuyet rises at 7 a.m. to clean the house, bathe the dogs, and then sets out on her bicycle to remove ticks. Observing her routine, the dogs faithfully trail behind her until the end of the alley. If she scolds them, they promptly retreat to the safety of their home.
Approximately every three days, Mrs. Tuyet sells a bundle of bottles, earning just over 100,000 VND. She saves this money, unwilling to spend it for fear of missing a meal.
Out of sympathy, neighbors visit daily, providing her with food to alleviate her market expenses. Nearby households also regularly donate leftovers to ensure the cats and dogs are well-fed.
“These dogs may be destitute, but they are all plump and healthy. Occasionally, they suffer from diarrhea or mange, and I take them for treatment to restore their well-being. Their fate mirrors my own loneliness, so I believe caring for them is the right thing to do,” Tuyet confides.
Nestled within a secluded alley, Mrs. Tuyet’s home sees little traffic. Consequently, every night she musters the courage to lock the cats and dogs inside, fearful of potential theft. There have been instances where dog thieves armed with weapons stood at her door, causing her and her neighbors to panic, their voices stifled by fear.
“I consider them my children and grandchildren, so if any of them were to be captured, it would break my heart. I follow them wherever they go. At night, I turn on the TV, and they gather around like children. With them, I don’t require a husband or children. They fulfill me,” Ms. Tuyet confides.
In her serene existence with her feline and canine companions, Mrs. Tuyet’s only aspiration is to have two meals a day and maintain good health to continue caring for them.