Beloved Pulau Ubin community dog Kopi-O laid to rest with gravestone

Pulau Ubin community dog Kopi-O, pictured on the island on Sunday, 31 January 2021.
Pulau Ubin community dog Kopi-O, pictured on the island on Sunday, 31 January 2021.

SINGAPORE — Kopi-O, a much beloved community dog of Pulau Ubin, has been laid to rest on the island with a gravestone to mark his final resting place.

In a video posted on the Pulau Ubin Facebook group by Philip Lin on Tuesday (9 February), his grave can be seen beside the sea. Yahoo News Singapore understands that the two-and-a-half-year-old Singapore Special died last Wednesday (2 February) following a motor accident.

Kopi-O was well-known to Pulau Ubin residents and visitors for his affectionate nature and his love of the water. He was known to guide groups of visitors and even 'guard' students during their activities at the Outward Bound School. Born and raised on Pulau Ubin, he reportedly has two siblings named Teh-C and Teh-O.

Over at the Singapore Hikers Facebook group, there are multiple stories of encounters with Kopi-O. One described him as an "ambassador" who protected hikers from wild boars, while another recalled how Kopi-O followed him to his campsite and chased away other stray dogs that were getting aggressive.

Church volunteer Terri Wei met him just once in January, but the pooch left a deep impression. Together with two other friends, she had gotten lost. She was getting "panic(ky) and anxious"and prayed for help when Kopi-O appeared. "He came to me first and he licked my leg once only, then he led me," recalled Wei. "He is my angel to guard me that day."

Terri Wei with the late Kopi-O, one of Pulau Ubin's community dogs. (PHOTO: Terri Wei)

Terri Wei with the late Kopi-O, one of Pulau Ubin's community dogs, in January 2021. (PHOTO: Terri Wei)

The dog then became their "tour guide" for the day, following them for more than 20km and even hanging around while they took photos. "He is so alert, he kept on turn(ing) his head back to check whether we are following him. Whenever there is a choice of road junction, he will wait for my decision, then he lead the way."

Wei had planned to planned to visit Kopi-O during Lunar New Year, but is now haunted by her last memory of him. "When we returned to Ah Ma Drink Stall, he came to me and touched my leg, then he left. Now I realise he was saying bye-bye to me."

However, the mongrel's passing has aroused some controversy, with a Facebook page called Project Kopi-O Steering Committee that aims to, among others, place more CCTVs on the island and raise funds for a statue of the dog. The page has since been deleted.

Cai Fujie Jay, who identified himself as the son of Kopi-O's owner, stressed in a post to the Pulau Ubin Facebook group that his family is not connected to any fundraising efforts, nor will they accept any money. Instead, Cai urged well wishers to make donations to animal shelters.

"(My father) is trying to move on and we believe the environment of Pulau Ubin can help him. However, all these attentions of Kopi-O’s death are too overwhelming and are not helping, in fact it is disrupting his lifestyle in Pulau Ubin," said Cai.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to Lin and Cai for comment..

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