Loving pets is like filling in a gap, a void of having loved and lost someone or something before.
Dr Abe V Rotor
“You are alone at your lowest ebb.”
No one is spared from these moments in life. The more daring we are the deeper is the wound if we fail, and the longer it takes to heal. It takes more intellectual acuity and intestinal fortitude to be aggressive, which has various forms: like being enterprising, being more risk tolerant, adventurous, pioneering, courageous. These traits take us into the horizons ordinary people dare not tread. It is said that in our moments of glory we strive for more of it. But in our instances of defeat, we find ourselves deep in shadow. “Victory has a thousand fathers, while defeat is an orphan.” A pet can help resurrect us from defeat to a victory.
Kulit at home
Pets bring back happy memories.
You have an advantage over the city slicker if you grew up in the province, then came to live in the city later in life. A dog brings sweet memories of when you were a farm hand. An aquarium reminds you of the fish you used to catch in the rice paddies during the monsoon rains. Goats on the range, chicken perched on a branch, a kingfisher patiently waiting for its prey, Labang, the bullock chewing its cud while at rest – these are scenes that one can revisit in his mind through the magic of pets.
Take a vacation back to the province.
While on vacation take the country road. Go to a farm and leave behind the traces of urban life. Try to remember riding a carabao when you were a kid. Savor the moment and let time stand still. If you do you become observant and wind up discovering many things. For instance you will notice the vaulting grasshoppers, a turtle lazily basking under the sun, or the parade of clouds in ever-changing figures and shapes. Remember when you were older and would ride a horse into the woods and over the hills. Let the musky smell of the earth, and the fresh scent of grass and leaves penetrate your nostrils as you watch a farmer plow the field. Notice ripened leaf that eventually falls off the branch. Notice these and many more to soothe your mind and soul. Somewhere a pandangera or fantail bird sings in praise and joy, while a dalag stirs in a calm pond sending ripples that make the red Nymphaea and lanky cattails sway and dance, disturbing a dragonfly in its slumber.
Pets in the Wild.
Not all pets rest on your lap, respond to a call, or depend entirely on your care. Several large trees around out house create a four-layered mini-forest that adjoins the watershed of La Mesa reservoir a block away. Birds visit regularly. Their songs wake you in a way that makes you smile, without the piercing siren of an alarm clock. On a still day their calls make a cheerful orchestra of warbling tunes, distinct for each species. There are birds that drink of the nectar of Lobsterclaw (Heliconia), while there are those which pick the ripe petals of Ilang-ilang, releasing its fragrance into the air. .
When the great painter, Lanseer, made his masterpiece, “Monarch of the Glen,” a moose in the wild stood still apparently posing for him. Humbled, the painter put down his rifle and took out a pencil and a piece of paper and sketched the magnificent creature. From then on, he renounced hunting the rest of his life.
Dolls and toys to pets.
When dolls and toys are no longer scattered on the floors and stairways of our homes, but are now instead kept in cabinets and glass cases, then we know the dawn of our children’s adolescence is at hand. It is transition time from childhood to adulthood, from fantasy to reality, sweet nothings to serious matters. This is where Alice in Wonderland or Treasure Island are replaced by Legally Blood and Westlife. Pets provide the bridge onto this new life for millions of adolescents. That is why pet shops abound. According to a survey conducted by my students in Field Zoology at UST Graduate School, there is at least one pet shop in every mall, or you will find two or more around a public market or “busy center” in Metro Manila. Many more are strategically located around schools and churches, not to mention ambulant pet peddlers you meet on Sundays and on busy sidewalks. These pet shops sell aquarium fish ranging from guppies to the giant aruwana, common birds like maya (rust brown and gray with pink beaks known as mayang costa), lovebirds and parakeets, and even illegally procured parrots sold clandestinely. Four-legged pets include guinea pigs, hamsters, iguanas, green turtles, and rabbits. Whenever I go to a mall with my daughter we always pass by a pet shop. The different breeds of dogs fascinate us. “My Jamby (a Japanese Spitz),” she says “is worth P2,000.” She would compare her pet with the other breeds that are really expensive. “Jamby is bigger and more beautiful,” I would reply, “She is priceless.” You can imagine how relieved my daughter is.
Pets are priceless.
No one sells a pet he or she owns, much more if the family or community owns it. Sometimes this pops as a problem. At home we fatten hito or catfish in our garden pond. After a few months they are ready for harvesting. “They are our pets,” my children would cry, and that would spoil any plans for a weekend with a new barbecue stand bought for the purpose.
Yes, it is a paradox in the case of the dog. Man’s best friend goes beyond companionship. To some, a dog is just a gustatory delight. This phenomenon is not confined only to indigenous people. It is prevalent throughout the archipelago as part of tradition and culture. In our times there are those, driven by economic necessity, routinely eat dogs. At one time, Congress received hundreds of letters endorsing the passage of a bill prohibiting the killing of dogs, “dognapping” or the rearing of dogs for food. As most of these letters came from the US and Europe, we can only appreciate the place dogs have in the hearts of people who have a deep regard for pets. The bill was never passed. ~