Being the youngest child, the bunso, in the family, I was always the baby, the one constantly cared for. But since the day we got a dog, a golden retriever with a pink nose and blue eyes, my life has been turned upside down. I became the elder sister, the ate, who will tend to the young.
Millennials choose to have a dog than to bear and raise a child, according to several reports, and there is no way I can dispute that decision because I am a dog lover myself. Having and caring for a dog at the tender age of 14 was not bad at all; in fact, it helped me flourish as a person, and shaped me into the young woman I am today.
The moment I saw Glazer, the golden retriever, in the pet shop, a forceful energy drew me to him. Not because I wanted him for his out-of-this-world features, but because of all the energetic dogs in that pet shop, he looked jaded and seemed to live in a world of his own.
The risk taker that I am, I urged my mom to purchase that furry friend.
From preparing Glazer’s food to shopping for his supplies, I was a hands-on dog mom. At 16, I realized that I could manage to take care of another living being, though not a human. It was also at that age that my aunt gave me another handful, another living being to look after. This one might not have a pedigree, but I knew that I’d love this big-eyed, brown cinnamon roll as much as I loved Glazer. I named this newcomer Gerber, after the baby food brand.
This was where the pressure started. Though my mom helped me take good care of my two dogs, she let me do the dirty job — from walking them around the neighborhood to cleaning up their poop. But I wouldn’t have had it otherwise, because these precious beings taught me lessons I wouldn’t have learned in school.
From learning the art of waiting for the right time (for my furry kids to poop) to appreciating simple things in life (such as appreciating the aroma of bacon cooking in the morning), my dogs taught me how to view the world through their hopeful and loving eyes. I learned that getting mud on my clothes or rolling in the freshly cut leaves was not bad at all, and that it was good to stop and laugh once in a while.
Although having two dogs entailed much work and countless hassles — such as chewed-up furniture, missing one of a pair of socks, and torn homework — it didn’t hinder me from adopting another puppy — a black and white “aspin” whose expressive eyes are enough to melt your soul and make you say, “Aww…” My brother named him Qwerty, after the first letters on the keyboard.
I am now 19 and the proud parent of three energetic dogs. I have mastered the art of reading my pets’ body language — the rapid wagging of the tail, the endearing puppy look, the suggestive bark whenever they want treats… Indeed, having three dogs has introduced to me a once-foreign concept: responsibility, which comes in handy now that I am studying away from home.
Really, taking good care of dogs requires an immeasurable amount of patience and dedication. So if you are planning on getting a dog mainly because of its cute and fluffy appearance, you better think twice. Having a dog is not only about cuddling it and enjoying playtime with it; it involves commitment and perseverance. Admiration of a dog’s appearance will help only to a certain extent, but commitment will push you to do the dirty, often exhausting, but ultimately satisfying job.
Now that I am in college, I might not be as hands-on a dog parent than I previously was. But I see to it that I have webcam time with my three dogs (especially if it’s Hell Week). And whenever I go home, I never forget to walk and play with my pets.
Since I started caring for a dog, I have been less depressed and have felt more loved. It has been nothing but a positive and loving experience.
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Chelsea Joy B. Serezo, 19, is a journalism student at the University of the Philippines Baguio.
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