His name was Darling. I did not like him at first.
I was pregnant with my second child when he was given to my son Craig as a gift for his fourth birthday by my mother-in-law.
Darling was a toy poodle but he was bigger for his breed.
I told my mother-in-law then that I did not want a dog at a time I was pregnant. But she said, “What apo (grandchild) wants, apo gets.” So I was forced to take Darling in.
We were living in a two-storey apartment then, and I always got irritated every time he would bark and run up and down the stairs.
I would always scold him. But I think he knew I did not like him so the more I distanced myself from him, the more he would sit or stay beside me. Nagugulat na lang ako na nasa tabi ko na sya.
After a year, we transferred to a condominium unit. Darling loved the new place as he looked forward to our morning and afternoon walks. At that time, there were only a few residents who had dogs.
Darling was famous for being “suplado” (snob) because nobody can touch him without asking me first. He also always growled when he saw dogs that he did not like.
He had a move that my husband called the “commando crawl.” Every time he would see a dog approaching, he would lower his body to the ground and wait. When the dog was near us, Darling would bark and intimidate the other dog.
But when he liked a dog, he would wag his tail and smell the dog.
Because he was not neutered, he would always run out of the house once someone would open the door when he smelled a female dog in heat.
I will never forget a meeting of the homeowners on house rules and policies. A neighbor who just moved in complained that a white dog with white curly hair frightened her daughter while they were walking around the premises. She asked me if I knew the dog. Of course I knew who the dog was. Darling was the only dog with white curly hair in our place. This is why my husband Arne gave him the nickname “Kuot.” But I just shrugged my shoulders and smiled.
I had a lot of memorable moments with Darling. When it was time to take a bath and he would see me with a towel in hand, he would crawl under the sofa or the dining table. When he heard me calling him, he would act as if he did not hear me and would turn away.
His favorite food was boiled chicken with rice. He loved it when I prepared his food with my hands. Kahit na anong dami ng chicken sa bowl nya, basta hindi ko hinimay, ayaw nyang kainin. I guess that was his way of telling me that he appreciated me.
When Darling turned 8 years old, I noticed something different about him. He did not want to run anymore and he panted after our walks.
We had him confined on Oct. 24, 2012 because he had a bad cough.
A series of tests showed that Darling had a heart enlargement and water in his lungs. The vet prescribed meds and changed his dog food. She also told us not to stress him out because Darling can have a heart attack.
We were devastated but we did not let him feel that we were upset.
I still walked him but not as often as before. I would carry him and walk home when there was a dog who could excite him during those walks.
It was a terrible time for us but we treasured every moment we spent with him then.
There were also some things he did before he left us.
Every night after dinner, he would sit beside the door of our room, seemingly waiting for my husband to invite him in. Once inside the room, he would wait for my husband to switch on the aircon. Then he would lie down and sleep. That was his way of bonding with my husband.
Every time he collapsed due to severe heart palpitations, he would always get up again and would look at me as if saying he’s fine.
We were in and out of the clinic between 2012 and 2013.
On the night of April 10, Wednesday, he collapsed twice and he could barely move. He was breathing hard.
With my eldest son Craig, we rushed Darling to the clinic where he was confined.
When I visited him the next day, he got so excited that the vet warned me that the next heart attack could be fatal. I asked Darling to calm down and I sat beside him for two hours.
I did this every time I would visit him.
We hoped to bring him home after two days but the vet said he needed further observation.
When the family visited him after mass on the fourth day of his confinement, Darling looked so happy to see us even while he had difficulty breathing.
When it was time to leave, my husband and the kids said their goodbyes. I hugged Darling and asked him to hang in there because I will be back the next day to bring him home. He licked my cheek and barked. I left with a heavy heart. We went home still hoping that we will see him the next day.
At around 6 p.m. that same day, the phone rang. My husband answered the call and I sensed something was wrong. After the call, he turned to me and said,”Wala na si Darling. Inatake daw kanina ng mga 2 p.m. They tried to revive him pero wala na daw talaga.”
When I heard that, I did not know what to feel. I just cried. It felt like I lost a son. It hurt so much.
The next day. we went to the clinic to arrange for his cremation. When I saw him lifeless on the steel table, I couldn’t stop crying.
But I knew I had to say goodbye. I kissed him and whispered “I love you” and thanked him for the wonderful years he shared with us.
When my neighbors found out that we lost Darling, one of them said, “Aso lang yan, pwedeng palitan.” I shot back, “Hindi sya aso lang, Anak ko sya. “
Darling can not be replaced by anyone, I said.
He was a good dog. He was a good son. He had his flaws like any other child. But I love him and I know he knew I loved him for those eight years he gave us.
He was there through my ups and downs. Every time I had a problem, he was always there beside me. I knew he felt my pain. I was never alone because he was there, loving me unconditionally.
I can still sense him whenever I’m alone. And I cry to this day when I remember him. But I find comfort in knowing that someday, I will see him in heaven.
I love you, my baby…