Friday, August 14, 2009


She was a frightened little puppy, barely a month old, a sorry little creature made up of nothing but skin and bones. For days, she cried pitiably for the family from whom she was separated far too soon.

I never paid this puppy any particular attention. Our houseboy brought her home so technically she was his puppy.

I quickly forgot all about her as soon as she quieted down. I am used to having dogs and cats of all ages around our home. Abby and I have a habit of picking up abandoned kittens and puppies that we’d pass along the streets. We do not have the heart to leave them to their inevitable fate … a slow, agonizing death by starvation or a quick, gruesome one brought on by the crushing wheels of uncaring drivers.

We have had our share of deaths over the years. Most of the kittens we picked up were far too gone to be saved. But we also have our successes. Just a few days ago, one cat I rescued as a kitten brought down her two adorable bundles of fur from our roof.

Like most of our cats, she has remained unnamed. I have long since given up naming each and every one of them. But they are all loved and cared for. My wish for them to have a home where they are safe and well fed has been fulfilled.

We also have our share of adopted cats and dogs like Kitty Girl, a pretty white cat that could no longer be kept but its previous owner, or Creepy who, despite his name, is the most lovable imp there is. He almost drove his former owners and their neighbors crazy with his nightly pleas to be allowed inside their home. Then there’s friendly Brownie, abandoned by our neighbors, and fearsome Takoy, an all-black mongrel whom my husband Nonoy rescued from a certain death. Takoy, along with gentle Cutie, another adoptee, added three more dogs to our zoo, as Nonoy would call our home.

And a virtual zoo, our home is! Our houseboy had also picked up our habit and started bringing back his own collection of animals starting with a black cat and ending with several fighting cocks along with hens that have since given us a periodic supply of eggs. Add to that the flock of bantam chicken that have so fascinated me and lo and behold! A home, zoo and farm all rolled into one! Our little piece of heaven.

And then there was that scrawny brown mongrel pup that kept to herself. I barely noticed her and only came to know so much later that our houseboy had named her Dayang. Abby got to know her first. They quickly built a friendship and often played their favorite game together - fetching stones.

Without my knowing it, this little askal slowly wormed her way into my heart with her sweet and gentle nature. What a joy she was! She was always the first to greet me when I’d arrive home. My fondest memory of Dayang is of her coming towards me with tail wagging shyly, eyes half-closed, ears pulled back with glee and a face that exuded nothing but pure goodwill.

Dayang left us today. She started ailing a few days ago. I was supposed to take her to the vet today. Instead, I found her lying flat on the ground, her entire body convulsing wildly. I have never seen a more horrible sight. And I have never felt more helpless. But what broke my heart was to see this tormented little dog managing a weak wag for me when I came to her. I cried when I saw what looked like tears welling up from her eyes as her whole body shook and convulsed. Do dogs cry? I stayed with her until the end, telling her that I loved her, and praying for God to end her agony.

I really loved that little dog. But I remember how I used to shoo her away as I gave food scraps to our 11-year old Nono and 10-year old Chacha, geriatrics in the canine world … often telling Dayang that the food were only for the lolo and lola. I used to tell her, when you’re old, you’re turn will come. But Dayang never grew old.

Dayang’s death today taught me a very valuable lesson about relationships. It’s something that I have always known with my mind but have never felt with my heart. It’s all about love and letting our loved ones know today that they are loved. We should never reserve that expression of our love for later. Today is what matters. For we never know what will happen tomorrow.

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