Tag Archives: dogs

When Gestures of Gratitude Go a Long Way

Thank You CardYesterday afternoon, I was surprised to see this lovely card and a box of Mary Grace (one of my all-time favorite restaurants!) pastries on our dining table. When I found out that it was dropped off by Trisha, a young lady I had just met that morning, I was so touched. Nothing like a personal, thoughtful gesture of thanks to make you glad you do what do you.

The day before, I came home from fetching my daughter to see this Chow Chow in our garage, his leash tied to the fence. Our helper said that she saw this dog slowly walking on our street in the mid-afternoon heat. The dog was alone, wearing a collar and dragging along his leash.  She gently led him into our garage and gave him some water that he eagerly drank. As soon as I closed our garage gate, I slowly approached the Chow Chow to gauge his disposition. He didn’t bark, growl or show any aggression. We let him loose from his leash so he could be free to lie down and walk around the garage and garden.

Cafe Mary Grace pastriesHe started exploring, sniffing and peeing. We were surprised to notice that he was walking weakly, his legs very unstable. He struggled to walk up or down a step. Broke my heart to see this dog looking so frail. I hoped that he was just old or tired, not sick. I came near him, crouched down to be level with him and to look him in the eyes. I spoke gently to let him know that I didn’t mean him any harm. When I slowly brought my hand close to the front of his head, he let out a low growl and was starting to show his teeth. I pulled back, kept talking gently, then brought up my hand to the side of his head. He relaxed and finally let me pet him on the head. Yes, perhaps we could be friends.

I called our village administration office to let them know that a lost Chow Chow was in my house, and asked them to tell whoever would look for him to come to our address.

The Chow Chow drank plenty of water but we still worried about him. He refused to eat. We offered kibbles, then kibbles with wet dog food, then rice with wet dog food. But he just wanted to sniff around, drink water and sleep. And he was still moving very weakly. That night, I went to bed hoping that I would see him moving and walking better the next morning.  And in my mind, I was planning how to have a vet see him if his owner didn’t claim him the next day.

Zeus the Chow ChowThe next morning was all good news. The Chow Chow eagerly ate the dog food our helper gave. He was moving about with more energy, even trying to interact with our dog Matty. Then his owner, a young lady named Trisha, came to pick him up. We learned that his name is Zeus, that he is 5 years old and is the baby of the family. Trisha told me how Zeus got out when their garage gate was accidentally left open.  They looked for him around their nearby streets and vacant lots, but it turned out that Zeus had wandered many blocks away from his house and to our street, then probably couldn’t figure out how to go home (and he seemed exhausted from the heat). Trisha’s family was up till 3AM, worrying about Zeus. They inquired with the village office the next morning and learned that Zeus was in our house.

It was a happy reunion, and Trisha was so thankful that we gave Zeus a safe place for the night.  I explained that it wasn’t the first time we took in a lost or wandering dog as it’s dangerous to just let them go about on their own. Luckily, Zeus was no trouble as a guest and was even sprightly when he had eaten and had his owner nearby.

To Trisha and family, thank you. The appreciation you showed my family when you came to get Zeus, followed by the sweet box of pastries and the sweeter personal note of thanks really made my day. Zeus, thank you for letting me pet you and briefly care for you. Your gratitude goes a long way with this humble dog lover.






InkTober Day 7: Matryoshka Dogs

Matryoshka Dog 2Matryoshka Dog 1

I’ve made several attempts to draw Matty, our beloved Schnauzer-mix-looking dog. These are my fourth and fifth attempts, and I want her to be part of my InkTober drawings before I decide to move on from animals.  While I found it fairly easy to draw a penguin and an owl as matryoshka dolls, I struggled so much with a dog. I’m sure part of it is my lack of drawing expertise, but I’m guessing part of it maybe because the shape of birds is closer to that of the matryoshka doll so it seemed a more natural fit. The silhouette of dogs, or perhaps any creature on fours, is very different from that of the matryoshka doll.

These are drawn with Kuretake ZIG Drawing Pen and Akashiya Fude Sai Japanese Traditional Colors Brush Pens.

P.S. Sorry, Matty.  These drawings don’t do you any justice 😉  You are definitely more beautiful.

When Beloved Pet Dogs Become Killers

The attack and feintI woke up this morning to a heartbreaking incident. Our family dog Matty and our prodigal dog Shiro had just killed a stray kitten in our yard. They had heard the kitten meowing loudly and started barking loudly in return. As soon as someone opened the front door, they quickly ran outside. Shiro attacked first. Although our helper was on the other side of our perimeter wall, she saw what was happening and shouted Shiro’s name. As soon as he let go, Matty grabbed the kitten.  It took less than a minute for our helper to get to them, but by then it was too late for the kitten.

I was shocked. Here are these two dogs that our family love and adore. I cuddle with them, call them cutesy names and play games with them. They are like children to me. And today I am faced with their violent, predatory side.

When they first came to me this morning, just minutes after having killed that kitten, I couldn’t bear to cuddle or pet them in my usually affectionate way. In my mind, I was seeing them as vicious animals who had just attacked and killed a tiny, helpless, innocent creature. And here they were, looking at me with their tails wagging, strutting about like nothing happened. I was so bothered and conflicted.

I read up on why dogs attack cats. I learned about dogs’ prey drive – a natural instinct to hunt. It dawned on me that Shiro and Matty were just following their instincts. I remembered Shiro’s owner having told me the story of how he had witnessed his mother being attacked by a cat. Since then, he has been angry and vicious with cats. Matty never liked cats but she has also never been violent towards them. I don’t know why she did what she did today. Maybe seeing Shiro attack that kitten brought out her own prey drive.

Dogs, while very close to the hearts of humans, are not human.  They are not subject to our morality or our norms. They are intelligent, trainable, loyal and affectionate creatures. But we must not forget that they are animals born with natural instincts that we should respect and understand. How to harmoniously and happily live with them in our homes and in our streets is our responsibility.

(As of this writing, I’ve already taken Matty and Shiro for a walk and given them their daily doses of cuddles and kisses.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that they didn’t do anything wrong. It was a tragic accident for the kitten and a wake-up call for me.)



photo by:

Shiro, The Prodigal Dog, Returns

ShiroSoloTwo weeks ago, Shiro (even though his owner did tell me that his name is Tagpi; we just prefer calling him Shiro and he responds anyway) went home for good after several days of temporarily staying with us. He stayed with us because he wanted to be with our Matty.

Since then, he has been back to our house a few times, sometimes just for the day, other times for unplanned sleepovers.

The last time I returned him to his owner was five days ago. I took the opportunity to talk to his owner, Mrs. Y, to find out how she feels about Shiro and if she really wanted to keep him.

As soon as Shiro saw her (after being away from home for about three or four days), his tail started wagging excitedly. When she called his name Tagpi, he happily went to her. And he seemed happy and content to be back home.

Mrs. Y was very thankful that I had taken care of him for a while, and that I had returned him to her. She reminded me that Tagpi (Shiro) was her late husband’s beloved pet, and now her only companion and security measure since she lives alone.

I decided not to ask anymore if she wanted to keep Shiro. Instead, I offered to pick him up once in a while and take him along on my afternoon walks with Matty. I’ve tried putting a harness and leash on him, and he was fine with it. Took him for a walk and he was very calm and easy, usually hanging back while Matty would be her usual frisky, tugging-me-here-and-there self.

MattyandShiroIn the past two weeks, I’ve gone through these stages: 1) This must be a lost dog, we should find its owner; 2) If the owner isn’t looking for him, maybe she doesn’t want him and we should just keep him; 3) He has gone back to his owner, he isn’t our dog, that’s how it should be.

This morning, Shiro was at our gate again. Looks like he found another way to get out of their house, or he made a run for it when Mrs. Y opened her gate. He is here again today, playing with Matty, asking us to pet him and sometimes napping. Maybe later today, tomorrow or the day after that, either Mrs. Y will have him fetched or I will bring him back. Again.

So I am making peace with stage 4) Our family has grown to love Shiro and he has chosen us as his second family and home. He doesn’t come only to play with Matty; he also comes to have us pet him and talk to him. He comes and goes, our regular visitor, our prodigal dog.

Shiro, Borrowed and Beloved Dog

Meet ShiroWe call this dog Shiro.

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.

Matty and Shiro playingAfter 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.

Running Away

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

Matty and Shiro on a walkThe 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.

ShiroI 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.









When Your Pet is Seriously Ill

After our beloved family dog Vina passed away last year, I started asking myself if I had done enough to try and save her. Did I miss any signs? Should I have visited her at the vet hospital more often when she was confined? Could I have tried harder to find a compatible blood donor?

Then I started asking myself if I could have been better prepared for her passing.  When she was still sick, should I have been more open to the possibility of losing her? Could I have coped better?

I asked the veterinarians in Beterinaryo Sa Fort, a vet hospital in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, for some tips on what to do when your pet gets sick.

1.    When your pet becomes ill

“Have them seen by a veterinarian as soon as any symptom develops. Allow your veterinarian to conduct tests to be able to provide a proper diagnosis and prognosis. Together, the pet parent and your veterinarian should be able to discuss the best course of treatment and options for your fur baby.  It is essential that during this time, vet and pet parent work together, discuss and understand each other’s concerns, capabilities and limitations.”

2.      When your pet is confined indefinitely in the hospital

“Daily visits to your fur baby while in confinement are ideal. Keep daily tabs of your pet’s progress via phone call if you are unable to come in personally.  The personal interaction is essential to a patient’s recovery and gives a feeling of security.  Personally ask about the progress of your pet’s health. Your veterinarian will be more than willing to keep you posted on how the condition is developing.”

3.      When your pet dies in the hospital

“As veterinarians, we don’t think there is an easy way of coping.  Pet parents would have to undergo the process and pain of loss, as fur babies could never be replaced. I believe that if each parent is fully informed and prepared in each step of their fur baby’s condition, death will be more acceptable. Communication would be key in this trying moment.”

VeterinarianProfessional veterinarians witness the sickness and death of many beloved pets. They’ve learned to cope with it as part of their job.

“Personally, a part of us dies with them. We actually feel the parent’s pain and loss as if we’ve lost our own, but we have to be at our strongest so that we can provide support and comfort.”