This is a story of girl meets dog, but you should know upfront, that this is a love story.
I was in a relationship with a dog, Kippy, my Japanese Spitz, for 10 years. That’s one decade. That’s one freaking half of my life.
He was there when I first got my period.
He was there whenever I fought (do still fight) with my dad.
He was there whenever I fretted (do still fret) over boys.
He was there whenever I needed a break from work.
He was there whenever I needed him to be. I, on the other hand, wasn’t always there for him whenever he needed me.
I could never really be home during the week partly because I’m a dormer, and partly because during those rare times when I’m actually home I would spend it by going out at night.
I stopped taking Kippy for walks or jogs around the village partly because I was lazy and partly because he was getting old and he couldn’t keep up with me anymore.
I would give him a bath about once a month (fine, once every two months), partly because I would forget and partly because it’s really such a chore and I didn’t really like doing it.
I forgot his birthday (March 10!) many times, partly because I’m generally not a date-conscious person and partly because I would just, well, forget.
Perhaps I wasn’t the most responsible pet owner, but he wasn’t a saint either. Trust me, Kippy had his fair share of kalokohans which got me into a lot of trouble with my parents.
Being the matapang and alpha-male dog that he was, I got the flak whenever he attacked another dog. I defended him tooth and nail whenever my mom threatened to give him away. If he left, then a part of me would too.
Being the makulit and adventurous dog that he was, I had to run after him whenever he would bolt out of the gate, and I had to carry him all the way back to the house (sometimes barefoot) afterwards. I shifted between flinging him over my shoulder and carrying him like a sack of flour in my arms. He was heavy, and it was a long walk.
Being the intelligent and street smart dog that he was, I had to be the one to wash his mouth whenever he killed a rat, or to suffer my mother’s wrath whenever he would snatch a cooked chicken from the dining table.
Being the matakaw dog that he was, I had to be the one to clean up his vomit whenever he ate something he wasn’t supposed to, which happened often, mind you. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I suggest you flush the tissue down the toilet instead of throwing it into the trash can.
Perhaps Kippy and I weren’t the perfect couple, but we made our relationship work. He would want to bite me whenever I gave him attention, while I was never there whenever he looked for me. But now that he’s gone, he can’t give me any more trouble. So it mostly makes me sad to think that I have no more reason to give anyone else any more excuses to defend his misdemeanors.
Honestly, I still can’t get over the fact that he just won’t be there to greet me when I go home this weekend or to keep me company while I watch TV or go online or do my homework.
I can’t get over the fact that it was so unexpected.
I can’t get over the fact that when I was crying a couple of nights ago he wasn’t there with his head and doleful eyes by my bedside to comfort me like he usually did. I can’t seem to get over the sad truth that now he never will be with me again or I with him.
I can’t get over my frustration that I wasn’t there when it happened or that he’d be buried by the time I get back home.
I knew Kippy would die eventually, but definitely not in the way I pictured he would leave me. I wanted to be there with him when it happened, holding his paw in my hand. You can’t tell me he’s happier in doggy heaven now when he wasn’t even suffering here on earth to begin with. Well, at least not in the way I know of.
I know he was just a dog and people may think it’s silly how worked up I’ve become, but he wasn’t any old dog. He was my dog, you know? He was my dog for 10 years.
I’m not the most affectionate person, and it’s not often that my apathetic heart cares more than it should. But now that he’s gone and I’ve cried myself to sleep, his passing made me realize my own capacity to love.
Death may be the absence of life, but it’s also the presence and a reminder of love, though in its crudest, most heartbreaking and suckiest form.
What I learned from Kippy is that genuine love doesn’t discriminate whether it’s between man and woman, man and man, woman and woman or, in this case, between a girl and her dog.
I miss you, Kippy. Thank you for teaching me how to love.
Rica S. Facundo, 21, is a fourth year AB Communication student at the Ateneo de Manila University.