- Posted August 7, 2014 by
San Francisco, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The written word: Your personal essays
Why I Will Never Have A Dog
Honestly, I also ask myself why I for the longest time have not had a pup or a dog by my side. It’s been over two decades. That’s been way too long. However, every time I see viral videos about dogs like with a service man returning home and his huge dog showed overwhelming excitement and lately this terrier that almost fainted when it saw his female person returned home after two years of absence. These videos just break my heart. I shed tears inside.
I have always loved dogs. I remember my first one, I ended up loving him more and it curtailed the responsibility of bathing, grooming and walking the dog every day. Being the only boy, that dog became my little brother.
However my mom couldn’t hide from us that she got attached to the dog more than we all did. She loved that dog. It was no surprise because we would go to school the whole day and my mom was left with our dog. Years passed and the dog grew and we all loved this dog.
One sunny afternoon, a neighbor was banging our door and shouting my mom’s name. “Ruby, are you there!” My mom opened the door. Our neighbor said a car had struck our dog that it was a hit and run. My mom dashed out yelling for us to stay in the house. I had to know what was going on and had to see our dog. I scrambled out of the house and checked the streets then I saw a commotion at this house few blocks from ours. I ran towards it and saw my mom coming out of that a house carrying in her arms our lifeless dog. My mom was crying and screaming. “Mga walanghiya kayo, wala kayong pagmamahal!” (Shame on you people. You have no love in your heart!)
Back in the days binging men would have a dog and serve it as appetizers or chasers to complement their beers. As a kid, I did not understand why. So my mom was just in time to take our poor dog away from those heartless men. That was vivid moment that still lingers in my head. The way my mom carried the dog to our backyard; how my mom started shoveling, digging a hole for him while tears flowed profusely from her brown eyes. It was just heartbreaking for her. I didn’t realize how emotional one could get when a pet died.
My mom buried the dog, stood up, wiped her tears and that was the last time I remember about that day. We never talked about it thereafter.
My father had found jobs outside the city and we, his family had to come with him at least when school was out in the summer. The entire family had to take a 10-hour bus ride to his workstation south of Manila. Back then my sisters and I would be very excited for this vacation away from the bustling city. School break in the Philippines usually takes three months.
One summer I’d never forget was when a friend of my father at work gave me a puppy. I was extremely excited and eventually became friends with this pup. As expected I ended up taking care of this dog. That was the summer of a lifetime for me—walking the dog, running with him, feeding him and playing with him. That pup and I had so much fun until summer ended and we had to go back to school and take that long bus ride back to the city.
I still remember the time when I had to board the bus and the driver wouldn’t allow the dog on it. I used to see live chickens and roosters on the bus all the time but this air-conditioned bus wouldn’t allow any animal. Again, I started bawling like crazy. My heart was just crushed to see the dog’s saddest eyes. Believe it or not, the dog and I were crying. I had to hug the dog and didn’t want to let go. My mom had to break us apart. One good thing about our parents is that they always show their kids optimism in these times. My mom assured me that I’d see the dog again. That was the last time I saw that dog.
Another memory I cannot erase in my mind with regard to dogs is that when I was walking to the wet market to get something for my mom’s kitchen I walked by a scene that just probably created the most trauma in me. I was only 12 years old.
There I was petrified, holding on to the barbed wire fence, staring at a dog hanging upside down. He was brown, short haired and skinny. He was struggling and bellowing this resounding cry. I held my breath in utter curiosity for a man holding a blade in his right hand that in the blink of an eye I saw the dog’s blood spewing from his nose. I froze. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing in public, in broad daylight. The dog had its last jerk, dripped the last drop of its blood. Then the man took and lit up a blowtorch started scalding the dog with it. Oh the smell of burning dog hair.
Reports in 2012 by a local news source in the Philippines said that over 300,000 dogs were “butchered and eaten” in the country despite the 14-year old ban on the practice. It also said dogs are being killed every year in the Philippines to be served as “pulutan” or appetizer for alcoholic beverages.
Living in a poor country is never easy. My family and I were never spared from evictions for delayed house rental payments. We had to move our stuff all the time and secure shelter for us and of course for our dog. When I was in High School we had a dog we named Lassie, after the popular TV show series. However, our Lassie was male. My sisters and I wanted that name. Our dog had the same white and brown color and fluffy hair. A well-to-do family gave the dog to us. Our Lassie grew up to be a loyal and wonderful guard dog.
Until once again, we had to find a new place. It is really hard being evicted all the time. We had such difficult time finding a new place as we needed money for necessary deposits and one or two month payment. We found a room and we couldn’t keep our dog with us.
We looked for an alternative shelter for Lassie. That time we had our uncle, my mom’s brother living in the same town but also squatting to another home at that time. We sought their help to take Lassie for a while, as we really didn’t have any option back then. So my uncle’s wife didn’t really like the idea but out of family ties she did take Lassie.
Days, weeks and a couple of months passed and we still struggled to look for a new place that’s pet friendly; and we found one finally. When we went back to my uncle’s place we noticed Lassie’s leash was hanging by their door. My heart pounded like crazy. “Where’s Lassie?” I asked my uncle’s wife. She couldn’t look me in the eye. She opened her mouth and all I remember was that I couldn’t hear her blabber. Then I heard my sister, holding back her tears muttering why they had to do it. Do what? I asked startled.
My uncle’s wife explained that the dog had been crying and she didn’t know what to do with it; that their landlord had been complaining; that she had to sell our dog to a group of drinking men who were looking for a chaser for their party.
My eyes welled up and I just had to walk away.
Years passed and we survived not having dogs in our household. I was okay not to have one. However, one of my sister’s friends gave her a white Pomeranian puppy and this breed of dogs was expensive and rare back in our hometown.
We named him Kennedy. He was smart, fun loving dog. We never leashed him. He roamed inside and outside our house freely. It was unusual that dogs run freely inside the house in the Philippines.
We would walk to the park with Kennedy either carried him to the park or he’d walk next to us. I was already in college and we lived very close to the college campus. I remember Kennedy was really a handful dog. Sometimes I’d get mad at him and sometimes I’d smother him with exuberant love. One night he got so sick that we thought he was leaving us. We couldn’t take him to a vet because we didn’t have the money.
Kennedy was just there lying on my futon, breathing heavily and could barely open his eyes. I held him so tight crying. I promised God that I would love him more and never would be mad at him. Kennedy looked at me and stared at me while I ran my fingers on his head trying to comfort him. I slept next to him that night.
I woke up with Kennedy licking my nose. He was up early and showed signs of recovery. It was a miracle.
Kennedy grew so fast and always caught attention from people at the park. He was really a fun dog.
When we were growing up, our grandfather used to visit and stay with us. One summer he was back. Kennedy became fond of my grandfather and loved his company. He and my grandfather would spend time together when we were in school for the day.
My grandfather loved to walk in the afternoon around the school campus. Just like any humid afternoon, he decided to have that quick stroll when my sisters and I were in school. My grandfather didn’t notice when he shut the door behind him Kennedy had already run out.
When I got back home, my sister was at the door frantic and asked me if I had seen Kennedy on my way home. I just shook my head. She told me what had happened and once again my heart was crushed.
My sisters and I ran out and searched the campus, asked around and even asked a campus police officer if he had seen a white fully grown Pomeranian. The police officer said he had noticed an elderly man walking off the campus with a white dog following him early that afternoon. My sisters and I pursued our search for Kennedy but never had the luck. Kennedy was gone forever.
So Kennedy was my last dog ever. It has been over two decades.
Like I said, don’t get me wrong. I still have compassion and utmost love for dogs but I don’t think I will have one that soon. Not at this time because traveling a lot does not recommend taking care of one. So, no. Not right now. Someday maybe; and just maybe, when that time comes I will be ready.