a dog like no other

Since the start of this year, we’ve been visited by a thief three times already. One of which was successful. And once is enough. We do not want another second time, third time.

Since we began living in our current address five years ago, people were strongly advising my father to get a guard dog in case of a bad thing that might happen. For our protection. My father did get one which he named Rambo. He was already an adult dog. But that dog only knew my father so whenever I get home during weekend from the boarding house, that dog would bark at me. I only saw Rambo once, twice? Then never again. I never asked what happened to him. Maybe it was because I am really against having a dog around the house, even though the dog was on a leash. But just recently, remembering Rambo, I tried to confirm whatever happened to that dog. My father said they have slaughtered him and ate him already as pulutan. So for years, we didn’t keep a dog. And we were just fine. We have a relatively tall gate/fence anyway.

2014 is a year of warning for my family and I. Despite the tall height of our gate/fence, a thief can climb to it effortlessly. And I believe it really takes talent for someone to do that. So people were again strongly advising my father to get a guard dog. However, my younger brother and I were strongly against it.

Having a dog is not just having a dog. You still have to take care of that dog like how you take care of a child. You have to train him/her with good manners and right conduct. You have to make sure that he/she won’t bite anyone. And in case he/she bites a child, it would be our responsibility as owners to cover the hospital expenses of our dog’s victim. It takes effort to have a dog because it’s not just a dog. It’s a living thing with biological needs, social needs just like humans. And we’re not used to having a dog. We grew up not having a dog.

My father, unknown to us, still requested for a dog from his nephew Kuya Willy. Actually it’s a puppy. And I met that 3-month old puppy/dog on 28 August 2014, Thursday. It was a rainy morning and I was absent from work. First time I saw the puppy, I thought she was already a dog! Because she seemed tall. But when I approached her, indeed, she was a puppy because when I crouched down to be near her she was kind to me and climbed to my lap. She then squeezed her head between my left armpit for warmth. She’s a child after all! And right then and there, it melted my heart! I’m in love!

But not my father. Turned out he wanted a male dog and what my cousin brought him was a female one. And my father didn’t like the color of her fur, it was white. So he told him (my cousin) that he is returning the dog.

Which I objected!

I told my father let’s try taking care of a dog. Because I liked her, she was sweet, kind, friendly, and playful! Even though she was dirty (since she’s used to roaming around freely around the house of my male cousin), I thought she was beautiful. She had this radiant personality. Obedient, most especially. I asked my Kuya Willy what’s her name. “Cory,” he said. And I just called her that, Cory. As the new owner (we were her third new owners), I didn’t change her name. But we have to put a leash around her neck, tie her to the grill of our stairs outside so she wouldn’t escape. When untied, she could squeeze her body between the gaps of our gate and might get lost and never be found. And we didn’t want that to happen.

By night time, it was a big adjustment for her. She was alone. And on a leash. She’s not used to it. She was a free spirit at my cousin’s house. During her first night she would make sounds of discomfort. Like she was crying. And panicking! She was alone, probably cold, so I had to check on her each time I hear her “cry.” And each time I visited her, she’d stop crying and wanted to play with me. She wasn’t cold. She’s just scared of being alone at night, outside our house! And I remember texting a friend, asking for advice on how to calm down a puppy/dog. On her second night, she was quiet and behaved. She slept early.

She liked me. She loved climbing to my lap whenever I crouched down to attend to her. She’d attempt to get near to my face and when she did, she licked my lips. I know it’s improper so I would try to prevent her from doing that the next time. She loved everyone in my family. She’d get excited seeing each one of us and she would show this by jumping at anyone of us cheerfully. She was nice to everyone. I never thought I would love this dog. She made me forget my burdens. I would forget the faces of people I don’t like. I would forget my fears, even my fear of death. I just enjoyed taking care of her although I was worried if I was spoiling her already.

Worried about her well-being since she was tied ‘round the clock, I made an effort to walk her outside so she could see some sights, and smell the grasses. I wanted her to stay normal and energetic so I would make an effort to play with her at our terrace after arriving from work. And I didn’t mind if that was from 9:30 to 10:30 in the evening or during her third night. And when I’m tired, I would tie her back to the grill of our stairs outside.

Then came a problem. Since my retired father was the one left to take care of Cory for her meal time, he was also left to take care of getting rid of her poop/feces. First time, he was cool about it. Second time, still okay. But during the third, fourth, fifth times, he was getting annoyed with it already. It was too much effort for him as an old man. I wanted him to teach me so that when I’m around I’d be the one to pick up her poop but my father preferred doing it himself though he didn’t like doing it. Not only that, we’d argue over the kind of food she eats. I didn’t like her eating mongo. I wanted to train her eating dog food. But mainly the problem was the dog poop. So I made the decision that we should return the puppy to my cousin if we couldn’t raise her well. Like her first injection of anti-rabbies! My father said next time. When I asked my father when we can put barricades along the gaps of the gate so she could live without a leash, my father said next time. It was so annoying that I told him maybe we’re not fit to be owners of a dog and that we should let the puppy/dog go. While it was still early and it was only a few days that she stayed with us. Also, I didn’t want her on a leash ‘round the clock. She was a free spirit. She could get lonely and depressed. I didn’t want her to become insane. I wanted her to explore. To be independent. I thought maybe we were not the right owners of a dog. I wanted a better place for her. At my Kuya Willy’s house, where she came from.

During her last day (fourth day) with us, I played with her, walked her far, had jogging with her, all for more than an hour. She’d follow my every order. She knew her name. She’s a happy dog. Then I asked my nephew to bath her. And it was scary for her at the beginning. Oh, there is something I forgot to tell you. Cory doesn’t bark that my father feared she was unfit to be a guard dog. She’d just wail when uncomfortable. Particularly when my nephew suddenly poured a water-filled dipper on her body. She wailed then ran towards me to climb to my lap, seeking comfort. But she calmed down when my nephew would just sprinkle, pour a little of those water around her body, over her head. After my nephew toweled her dry, I picked her up to put her under the sunlight.

I still remember the heavy beating of her heart when I was carrying her. I remember looking at her while I let her dry under the sunlight. I felt calm that she was going to be returned to my cousin, Kuya Willy. However, for the night, Cory had to stay at my other cousin’s house, Kuya Willy’s brother, at this neighbor subdivision. When it was time for her to be picked up, I had some hesitation. I didn’t wanna let her go. But I had to. I just thought Cory’s going back to her former owner, my cousin Kuya Willy. When I was alone, I cried. I was surprised that I cried. The following day, I texted my cousin if Cory had been picked up already by Kuya Willy. He said yes.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about Cory, the puppy/dog. Was she okay? I was hoping she didn’t feel rejected when we removed her from our life, our home. Every single day at the office since she left, while doing my work, memories of Cory flooded my mind and it would make me miss her. Two weeks later since she left, I requested my father if we could visit Cory at my Kuya Willy’s house. Then came the naked truth. “The truth is, the dog is just nearby, at your Kuya Noling’s house.” I jumped for joy—though I wondered why my cousin lied to me—so later in the day, my father and I went to their subdivision, knocked on their gate, we were curiously being barked at by this adult dog named Shia as we enter and was attended by my already old nephew, son of Kuya Noling, and at the back of their house I saw Cory! She was standing on this table. Alone. And thin!

I quickly stroked her head, calling her name in a sweet way, and she seemed sad. She looked frail and it made me sad. My nephew told me she’s sick. Always lethargic.  She’s vomiting blood, excreting in liquid. Cory had to be brought to the vet. But my cousin, my nephew’s father, thought it’s overkill bringing a dog to a doctor. Since it’s just a dog. The dog probably had parasites, my nephew said. I said I don’t think so because during her last day with us she had a nice poop because I was only feeding her rice, strips of chicken meat, and a little dash of dog food. We even jogged together. Cory was energetic.

I picked up Cory then put her down the pavement then it was automatic, she became alive then ran towards my father. I was calling out her name Cory but she’s not responding to it anymore. Turned out, my nephew renamed her Elaine. Because he found “Cory” to be a corny name. Shia, his adult pet/guard dog, didn’t like her that much. They’re not that close, Cory and Shia. That was why Shia’s territory was at the front of the house and Cory’s at the back. Turned out, my cousin Kuya Willy who lived far away in a city, didn’t want Cory back. He no longer have space to have another dog. I felt he’s just lazy travelling far just to get a dog. Who looked only ordinary. He said to his brother to just give the dog away to whoever was interested. So this brother, my other cousin, adopted Cory as an additional “guard” dog.

Worried about her big weight loss, I asked permission from my nephew if I could visit Cory every once a week. He was reluctant to say yes but he said yes anyway and he had to know what time or day I’d be visiting. I said same day, same time. That was September 15, when I was absent at work, on a sick leave. Before going to sleep, I prayed for Cory that she would finally be accepted by the adult dog. I prayed that she would come to love her new place, new masters. I prayed that my relatives would take care of Cory humanely. It was my first time to pray over a dog.

September 18, Thursday, I dreamed about Cory. She was lost and I was in distressed looking for her in that dream. At work, I wanted to leave at noontime and go home and get Cory from my nephew. I felt she was going to die there. But I stopped myself. Maybe I’m just crazy, got so attached with a puppy/dog who I took care of for 4 days. But I was restless. September 19 (Friday), work got cancelled because of Typhoon Mario. It rained hard we had to keep the floodwater at bay by constantly wiping our floor, or gathering those water using the hard broom, dustpan, and a bucket. It was stressful! Saturday, I dreamed again of Cory. In that dream, I asked an officemate to steal Cory from my nephew’s house. When I finally possessed Cory, we ate in Max’s Restaurant with my family and while I was feeding her, she bit me. Strange dream. My brother joked that I visit Cory. Check what happened to her after Typhoon Mario. But knowing my nephew, I said I’d just visit on Monday. But on Sunday, September 21, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cory. I told my father I wanted to visit Cory. Then came a news that shocked me. He said, “The truth is, the dog died yesterday.”

My world crashed. Literally and figuratively. But I still have to wash my dirty clothes so I did them first before going to my nephew’s house. For three hours I was shocked, grieving for Cory, while scrubbing my clothes. I felt like a fool feeling bad, guilty, losing a dog. A dog who was just a dog to my father, or to my cousin. But to me, Cory is not just a dog. She’s a loyal friend. And I regret giving up on her so easily. I wished I could have done more. I wished I followed my instinct and didn’t give her to my cousin. And I don’t think I could find another puppy/dog like her since no two puppies are alike. Cory was one and only.

Learning my lesson the hard way (to listen to my gut feel always), and probably out of guilt, I feel like volunteering at an animal shelter just to get over my grief. They’re a loyal friend, will give you happiness, will protect you if you treat them well. Unlike humans, they’re not two-faced and traitors! Remembering Cory, she was real. Genuine. Would lift up my weary spirit. Cory was a good dog. And I miss her.

I plan of getting another dog.  We really need a guard dog though it’s not a guarantee but still.  And I do want to take care of a dog.  But before I do that, which is so easy, I’m buying books about raising a dog well.  Reading them whenever I have time.  And though my father is against it, he advised me to get a dog crate first before I adopt a new puppy.

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