THE DAY MAXY DIED
It has always been a sad day when a loved one passes away. But when a pet, say your favorite dog crosses over, it is a tragedy.
My sister and I had Peggy, a light brown native dog (askal as they say or a local mongrel), when we were young. Peggy was our universe next to our parents. She never made any complaint at all. She was one of us already. She may bark once in a while but that was meant only to remind us that she was a dog. But she is more than canine to us. She was a picture of loyalty, of devotion, of patience. She could also be a rabid follower, a protective company, a fanatical friend. She died a few years later and we, my sister and I, were never the same again. We became aloof, sensitive and vulnerable. We suffered a great loss that even our perceptions were terribly affected. We never allowed having pets anymore since that time on. We had grown to accept reality. It was a turning point. Our peggy made us mature overnight. Her death made my sister a scholar. And our pet had transformed me into an artist. We exuded in our respective field the same qualities we learned from her.
Years later, when I had my own family and kids, I would also introduce them in the same breath and cycle of emotional roller coaster by adopting a number of pets. I would even go further by having different pets in as many a specie I could find. We had a boa constrictor, a turtle, a goat, white mice, termite eating marsupial, bats, big ants, parrots, guinea pig, pangolin, arachnids, love birds, name it, we must have it. Our yard was once a veritable zoo and each specie we christened with names less than having them baptized. That was one orientation I initiated for my kids. They never became Kuya Kim or the popular Crocodile Dundee but I knew that my kids had a great time observing, caring and maintaining our pets. They had great fun and yes, education on what life was all about.
More years later, my kids would have their own preferences. They had cats of varying shades and color. They would even spring a surprise by picking up a lost kitten, black ones most especially near the garbage dump and would adopt it. It was not for once but several times. For a time, our house would be transformed into a veritable haven for the feline kind. Then a puppy would be brought in. As soon as the pretty canine becomes actively game as a member of the family, it would be lost. My kids had as many pet dogs later—shaggy furs, slim types, craggy ones.
And then, a dark colored puppy with crying and begging eyes was given them. It was for a time the center of my kid’s attention. The puppy was hugged, spoiled and coddled like a pillow and it responded with mirth, fidelity and some kind of piety for its masters.
The puppy in no time would grow up into a big hulking dog, fierce looking projecting a mean beast as it growls. It has grown almost 20 times its original size. It is menacing from a distance, it is intimidating up close. Its jaws were designed for the jugular and its paws are always mounted for assault. Not even a SWAT team would be capable of engaging the monster in a mortal combat!
We suspected all along that the dark colored pet had a foreign bloodline. It could have been a cross breed for a pointer, Labrador retriever, pomerarian and pit bull. It can easily terrorize anyone trying to annoy it. For a good number of years, it would be one pet which the kids would grow up with. It can determine its master’s presence a mile away except that it often overdoes its playfulness by accidentally biting hands that feed it. The injury would immediately be forgiven though. Dogs, especially pets, were never there to hurt their masters. There were even countless stories on the sworn loyalty of pet dogs. There was even a monument erected in Japan in their honor. The phrase “canine loyalty” was lifted directly from their instinctive attribute.
There were even studies conducted to determine the cognitive abilities of dogs. Accordingly, they share the same intelligence and emotional qualities as that of man. Science even had daring revelation that they could also determine with precision not only how dogs can memorize but also how they would describe their masters. When that time comes, it would be impractical to allow our pet dogs hang around inside our rooms anymore!
Going back to dear dark colored pet dog of my kids, it was a sweet occasion to have it always by their side. It barked a lot and for them it was music. Just as when things turn out not in accordance with my kid’s expectation, their pet would usually be there to lend its maximum presence. Hence, they rightly christened their pet as Maximus, a Roman name, bland yet brave, parsimonious yet compulsive, behave and alert.
Maxy was in charge of the house when everyone is out. It was the sentinel, the guard, the sentry. When everyone was in, it is the entertainer, the performer, an artiste. Maxy was almost a part of the family, a member of the clan, patient, enduring and uncomplaining. He had that quality which everyone loves.
Maxy was full of life, robust and active. Even at times when its ration was more on the fasting side rather than the feasting kind.
At the peak of his strength however he would die. His leash strangled his neck. Maxy lived well and was loved well. It left a vacant spot in the hearts of my family. My kids were never the same from that day on—they would all see life in the context of fate and faith. Fate as in having a timeline for everyone and faith, as in appreciating another life hereafter.