Sunday, July 10, 2005

Siste Viator*

[In memoriam.]

We weren't supposed to give them names.

Of the eight dogs of the Zoo on Cordillera Street, four were puppies. Three 4-month-olds belonged to the same litter, waiting to be given/sold to people looking for free/inexpensive half-Dalmatians; one was nearing his first birthday. The last one was Elvis (yes, I know -- dad is such an Elvis Presley fan), while the little ones were affectionately called Kambang, Tisoy, and Tisay. Funny nicknames, no real ones. The reason? We didn't want to get too attached to pups which we'd be disposing in few weeks time. Disposing -- some silly term always used by my dad.

If only we knew what was in store for us.


I was the first to notice it. One morning, Kambang (named so for her black patch on the right side of her head and ear) had a fever. Aside from her high temperature, she seemed lethargic, didn't want to eat, gave no reaction to my whistles and gentle coaxing, and occasionally vomited small amounts of fluids. Though alarming, we've experienced those clinical conditions before with other pups, and so I didn't really worry too much about it. All she needs is rest, I thought.

Just before I left for UP, I checked up on her. I was slightly surprised when Kambang, in her illness and all, wagged her tail as I patted her on the head.

That was about nine in the morning. Less than twelve hours later, I arrived home from school, and the first thing I looked for as I opened the door was Kambang. But it was my Dad who greeted me with the simplest of greetings.

"Kambang is dead."


I found her in the backyard. When I got over the disbelief, I spent some time observing her before she was properly "disposed" of. Her face was contorted in pain, with her blue eyes and jaws half-open. Wet, blood-stained stool stained her tail and the ground. Certainly a violent death, from within.

Right then and there, as I squat beside the stiff body of Kambang, I gave her a name. "Espy", short for Esperanza, Spanish for hope.


Because two of our puppies were already showing Espy's symptoms, and I was fervently hoping that they wouldn't end up like her. Elbits, as I fondly called Elvis in "baby-talk", was the adolescent "successor" to our true-blue Dalmatian. He was already having liquid feces with high concentrations of blood, which was of course very, very bad.

Panicky, we called up our local vet, and she gave the necessary (and expensive) prescriptions, not to mention injecting 'something' into Elbits and Tisoy. The latter was still alright to an extent -- Tisoy even yipped loudly when the vet stuck in the syringe. It was Elbits who was in a dire state -- laid out on the ground, glassy-eyed with breaths coming in deep, rib-shaking heaves.

And so Elbits was given medication -- anti-diarrhea capsules, antibiotic syrup. Because he wouldn't eat and was losing body fluids quickly through his feces and occasional vomits, we force-fed him with water-and-sugar solutions. This went on for several hours, with the family hoping that Elbits would stop vomiting, stop defecating blood, and simply recover. We even brought him out to the backyard so that the other dogs couldn't bother him in his ill state.

But the situation worsened. Elbits' jaw began to resist our attempts at force-feeding, snapping together with unnatural ferocity. He threw up virtually all of his medication and the remaining fluids in his body.

I ran upstairs, opened the PC, did a quick scan of a dozen websites, and found the culprit -- Parvo, the feared virus fatal to most untreated dogs below the age of one. The clinical symptoms were the same; more frighteningly, it often kills within a day or two after the onset of the symptoms. We were asking then: What could we do? We couldn’t bring him to an animal hospital. We didn’t have the money.

But damn, there was still hope. Espy, no, Elvis won't end up like her. This dog was a fighter; he was the sole survivor of a whole litter which died. He was our Dalmatian’s heir apparent, with the excellent tell-tale spots and lean and mean body. Most of all, he was the wackiest of them all, and as such he was my best friend.

That's it. He was my best friend. And I was not going to lose him to some devil-kin, unintelligible life-form.

I was patient in administering the vet's prescriptions; sadly, the virus wasn't. By 2 AM Elbits' mouth was tightly clenched, and two grown-up men (me and my dad) weren't able to force-feed him anymore. His stomach, which was convulsing from time to time, obviously caused him a lot of pain (Parvo causes the intestines to slough, thus the bloody stool). I spent some time talking to Elbits, scratching his head (especially the prominent black spot right smack on his forehead) and even picking off some mites and ticks. Later, I left him to my dad's care and hesitantly went to bed, fatigued beyond expression, both physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Unbelievably, I was able to have a wonderful dream.

I was standing in the backyard, looking at Elbits perched upon some platform. He seemed to be alright; after all, he was sitting, not sprawled on the ground!

But in the most painful of moments, I suddenly heard our maid’s voice in the background, saying, “Elbits has passed away.”

I woke up, shaking off the drowsiness and headache. I slowly made my way down to the ground floor, opened the door to the backyard, and knelt in front of a friend.

Amidst the strong stench of bloody stool and the buzz of flies, I paid my last respects to Elbits. As I ruminated over what could have been and what would not be, I patted him on the black spot on his forehead.

Moments later, as I readied to leave the house for UP, I paid a last visit to the backyard. There, I laid my hand on Elbits’ head for one last time, and said, “Goodbye, dear friend.”

At the same time, I silently apologized to him, and cursed and damned myself for letting him die.


While I was away at my thesis class, they buried Elbits in our small garden box (garden box, not garden). True, it was an unprecedented move to assure the virus' survival for months to come, but we had to give him a decent burial, not throw him and leave him to rot on some vacant lot.

By evening that day, Tisoy (with his blue eyes, beige nose, and chocolate-brown spots) became more sick. His frame degenerated into almost a skeleton. We brought him out to the backyard to isolate him from the other dogs. Hours of force-feeding again took its toll, and I slept early that night, still not having recovered from the previous night’s ordeal.

Again, I had a wonderful dream.

The dream-state Corsarius opened the door to the backyard, and Tisoy came rushing into the house, galloping and yipping like crazy!

When I woke up, they told me Tisoy had already died when I was asleep.


Tisay, as she was called (she really looked like a Dalmatian), was A-OK the day her sibling died. She was as ravenous as a tiger, and as active as a tadpole. But the following day she showed the symptoms of Parvo -- lethargy, depression, bloody stool, vomiting.

For three days I patiently force-fed her with Gatorade (to supply her with electrolytes) and medicine. She was a strong pup, able to survive longer than her buddies. But as her illness progressed her condition swiftly regressed -- she was having liquid feces more bloody than those of the other pups’.

Morning of the fourth day of her sickness, I was horrified to Tisay discharge a pool of reddish, liquid stool, feebly walk towards my direction, and collapse to the floor.

More than an hour later, while I was in a distant library in UP preparing for an exam, the last of our puppies died.


It is always hard to lose a friend to the shadows. More so for four friends.

And as always the case, God has a reason for all of these. A mysterious reason, that is, one which is worth a million crap-ollars for many of us, including me. As church doctrine goes, we should soul-search for this reason; it is our responsibility as children of God.

But if I need to oblige with this, then I've got a request for Him in return, a little plea of a corsair who isn't accustomed to pleading with people at all. I will plumb the depths of my soul to find Your reason, but give Elbits and the rest of all departed animals their own souls. Make every crying kid's animal heaven a reality. With that mountain-moving, sea-dividing might, give them this simplest of requests, the greatest of dignities. Give them their souls, so they can meet their masters in the end, and blissfully frolic in the fields of Elysium. Please. For me, and for the millions of people who, at one time or another in their lifetimes, mourned beyond mourning for their dear friends.

I'm not sure -- heck, no one's sure -- if this small request of mine will be granted. But one thing's sure.

The Zoo on Cordillera Street is a much more boring place now.

Farewell, Elbits, Espy, Tisoy, Tisay, and the others. Wherever you are, know that you'll be fondly -- and lovingly -- remembered.

Till next time then.

July 1, 2005 (Evening) - Espy ("Kambang"), 4 month old half-Dalmatian
July 2, 2005 (Dawn) - Elvis, 8 month old half-Dalmatian
July 3, 2005 (Early Dawn) - Tisoy, 4 month old half-Dalmatian
July 7, 2005 (Morning) - Tisay, 4 month old half-Dalmatian

*Stop, traveler. Latin. Used on tombstones.


Blogger ia said...

July 4, 2005 (2:30 PM) - Macho*, 6 month old half-dalmatian

* We called him Hadji/Hajji/Haji, but he was Macho in their house.

There's not much to say, 'cept it's been too difficult figuring out how that disease could have been fought out completely.

I still wonder.

But there are reasons. There will always be reasons. His reasons.

6:38 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

It was a damned week, I tell you. Five dogs, all in all.

Hehe, we really give the cheesiest of names. Macho. It's sad to see him go, especially because I've long considered him to be the link between my family and yours. :)

6:54 PM  
Blogger transience said...

aawww. and i'm not laughing.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

trans, thank you for that. :)

10:09 PM  
Anonymous elizabeth said...

I am not fond of dogs but i have a friend who consider her dogs her babies. When she lost her muffin she went into deep mourning! She even asked if there was a dog heaven. I don't believe that there is a dog heaven but i do understand how it is to mourn when you lose someone you love!

10:59 PM  
Anonymous kai said...

chachic's japanese spitz died last month. super nalungkot ako hindi lang halata. just nun may sobrang lakas ba ni snow (the spitz), inaaway niya si kiara (siberian husky nila chachic) tapos nicheer pa namin siya DOGFIGHT! GO SNOW.

super depressing. hindi ako particular about dogs pero death, death is so painful. kahit hindi sa living things, kahit sa feelings, kahit sa relationships.

pero death is inevitable and sometimes very ewan ko useful for lack of a better word. dati sa charmed may episode na ginawa ng mga avatars na hindi makafeel ng pain yun mga tao when someone dies tapos the world became undynamic.. sabi nga ni ia, may mga reasons. it's ok to grieve for something that's been lost.

ok walang pinuntahan yun comment ko pero condolences. *hug*

12:21 AM  
Anonymous kai said...

ok disorganized ang ibig sabihin ko.. death is inevitable but very useful. ngek. that sounded wrong.

basta everything happens for a reason. :)

12:22 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to elizabeth: thanks, beth :) btw, i got to read the link (on loss and mourning). i especially liked the line from Ecclesiastes -- To everything a season and a time for every purpose under heaven… a time to be born… a time to die… a time to laugh and a time to cry…a time to cast away stone… a time to gather stone together.

thank you so much for sharing it.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to kai: aw. please extend my condolences to chacic, kahit di kami close. :)

disorganized man o hinde, it did help. a lot. and yep, thanks for the hug!

[lapit na birthday mo!]

1:18 PM  
Anonymous AuroraBorealis said...

It was about 5 years ago. Her name was Duchess. She had the cutest little pink nose I've ever seen. But she only lived for about 3 months, just enough time for me to get attached. Yeah, I got depressed. Her death consumed about 4 pages of my journal.

And then this other puppy came along. Chocanoo, I named her. She's like Duchess reincarnated, my truest confidant, the dissipator of half of my pain, my own bearer of hope. And she's turning 4 already(but in dog life, she's way older than me, and probably wiser).

And then I understood Duchess' death. Had I not suffered the loss of someone so dear, would I be able to appreciate and acknowledge the presence of those sent by angels to lift my burden? Would I be able to see Chocanoo as I see her now?

I agree. Things do happen for a reason.

Dog heaven. I'll request for that one, too.

4:36 AM  
Anonymous AuroraBorealis said...

Wait. Did I say she's turning 4? She's turning 5, not 4.

Pardon me. My Alzheimeric tendencies are genetic.

4:41 AM  
Anonymous hera said...

oh my god. we lost our most favorite dauchund "lovely" in the same desease just a few months ago. so that's what it was called--parvo. lovely was my parent's daughter since all of my sibs tranfered here in manila. even my dad talks to her.

here's to all the dogs who gave us moments of happiness and security.

11:01 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

To AuroraBorealis: My sadness is eased knowing that I have one signatory for my petition to Him ;-) And yes, you're absolutely right. I came to value more our remaining 4 pets after the sudden deaths of the unfortunate little ones.

Sometimes, people just tend to take for granted the things/beings which they see day in, day out. Sadly, I was one of those people. And I paid the price.

Hey, before I forget, good luck to you and your Chocanoo :D

9:10 PM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to hera: my condolences.

parvo is actually referred to by most Pinoys as "peste". it stays in the environment for 6 months to a year, so don't bring any new unimmunized (and very young, below a year old) dogs to your house. bringing a new dog to an area where a dog was recently lost to parvo spells disaster for the pup. :(

"parvo-killer". that is the true title of nobility. join me in becoming one? haha :D

9:17 PM  
Blogger Manjusha said...

I am sorry.

My puppy (Koshy) died a month after finding him wandering on the streets outside where I lived.

It was painful.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Corsarius said...

to manjusha: i share your grief. i take it that you had adopted Koshy? that was a noble thing to do, believe me.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Manjusha said...

Yes. Adopted Koshy. He was a wonderful angel.

11:00 PM  
Blogger jennybeans said...

I know this is really, really late but I just read this post and I could very well relate to it.

When my dog died, I also had dreams that I came home and found her waiting for me. She even looked really chubby and her coat was incredibly shiny like it used to, a complete opposite of how she looked like when she got sick. I should have known I was dreaming, but I so wanted so see her again that it didn't take a second for me to believe that she's alive.

It's nice you have friends who tried to make you feel better when your dogs died. In my case, when my dog died, my aunt who isn't a dog lover and my cousin were amused because I was trying to save the life of my dog. When I was patting my dog in her last few hours, I heard my aunt and cousin chuckling. I overheard that they were trying to find out if I was crying or not.

It's weird when some people think that it's stupid when it makes perfect sense to us.

9:51 AM  

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