He first came to our house two weeks ago. He peeped through the little openings on our gate, getting our dog Matty’s attention. My family saw the wagging tails and heard the pleading whimpers. So we let this dog into our yard to let him and Matty play. We left the gate open as this dog would run away whenever we tried to close it. While our Matty was on leash to keep her from running out, this dog would play, leave, come back to play again, and leave again. He left, presumably for home, when night came.
Although he didn’t have an ID tag or a collar, we thought that this dog must have an owner. He was clean and looked healthy. Not scrawny. No obvious injuries. We figured that he was just out wandering and saw a playmate in our Matty.
Doggie Play Dates
On the next day, I asked the village security guards if they knew our visitor. They immediately recognized him from a photo I showed (but they didn’t know the dog’s name) and gave me an address not far from mine. They said that this dog does belong to a woman who lived there, and that this dog usually just roams the village streets. I explained that this dog came to our house to play with Matty. I informed the guards that if the dog’s owner looks for him, she can check with us if the dog is at our house playing since he is a welcome guest.
After the first few days of these play dates (this dog came pretty much on schedule, at 6AM everyday), we started finding ways to close the gate while he was in our yard. I pitied our dog Matty for having to be tied up while they were playing. I also didn’t like that this dog would still wander our neighborhood streets during the day. Though he didn’t seem to be aggressive or threatening to anyone, it is still dangerous to let him, or any dog, wander the streets unleashed and unsupervised.
We had started getting comfortable with him, and soon he allowed us to pet him (wow!). We wanted to call him something other than Boy. Since he looked like a Japanese Spitz, I suggested giving him a Japanese name. We came up with Shiro, which means white. To us, he became Shiro.
After Shiro had been coming over for about three or four days straight, his owner’s helper came one afternoon to fetch him. He said that the dog’s name was Tagpi (Tagalog word for “patch”) and that he always goes out of the house and roams around. As soon as we opened the gate, Shiro bolted out and ran away. The man chased him and we didn’t see them anymore that day.
That left me with a heavy heart. Was Shiro running away from that man because he didn’t know him? Or did that man hurt him? Was Shiro being treated well at home? And why was he left to roam the streets all day?
Walks, Dinners and Sleepovers
The very next morning, bright and early at 6AM, Shiro was outside our gate again, barking and asking to come in. We were so happy to hear him back. He was a kind and quiet presence and a joy to have around. In the next days, he gladly went with Matty and me on our afternoon walks (while Matty was on-leash, Shiro just walked beside us). He drank from his own water bowl and ate from his own little food bowl in our yard. He took naps on the porch.
Four days ago, ten days after he first came visiting, I decided to keep Shiro through the night. He was still in our yard after dinner time, and it really didn’t feel right anymore to let him outside so late at night. What if the gates in his house were closed and he would be locked out for the night? I wouldn’t be able to sleep from worry. I told myself that the owner would know where to look for Shiro since they had already found him here with us. And Shiro did come to us on his own, even after they had come to fetch him the first time.
For those four days, we had two wonderful dogs at home. It was unplanned and unintended, but he became a welcome part of our family.
Goodbye for Now
Yesterday afternoon, two weeks since he first visited and three days after he started staying in our home, Shiro’s owner called him back for good. Another helper came to our house yesterday afternoon asking for Tagpi. I had been waiting for this chance to clarify Shiro’s story so I spoke with the man. He works for the elderly woman who owns Shiro/Tagpi and his son who also lives in our village. He said that during the day, while he is at the son’s house, Shiro/Tagpi is left alone with the elderly woman in her house. Shiro is able to get in and out of the house on his own through the grills of their fence that are just wide enough for him to go through.
I explained that I’ve been letting Shiro stay with us during the day and eventually at night too because I worry for the dog’s safety. I reminded him that it’s illegal for pet owners to let their dogs roam the streets unleashed and unsupervised. I asked him if they still wanted Shiro and reminded him that Shiro deserves to be well cared for.
He said that they do want to keep the dog and will continue to care for him. They have also reinforced their fence so Shiro won’t be able to get out on his own.
I wanted to see how Shiro would react to this man. I opened our gate and let the man in. Shiro was huddled under the sofa on the porch, his preferred napping spot. As soon as the man called him Tagpi, he did turn his head and wag his tail. He didn’t bolt away or look panicked. But he didn’t get out from under the sofa. We all figured that he had gotten quite used to us, and especially to Matty.
Shiro didn’t resist when the man carried him out and away. It was time for him to go home to his owner, back to his life as Tagpi.
P.S. I’ll Keep Looking
I drive by Shiro’s house everyday on my way in and out of our village. Since yesterday afternoon, after he was taken back, I’ve been stealing glances at his house, hoping to see him. I saw him once, leaning by the fence, maybe bored, maybe wishing he was with Matty. And when I got home, I saw Matty by the door, waiting for Shiro to come back. It’s only been a day since Shiro left, and we are all somehow waiting for him to come back. Even for just a visit.
Till then, I will keep looking out for Shiro.