Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spot was here
So was Ketchup, Coffee, Johnny, Tigre, Piolo, and some unnamed mutt.

January to February 2007

Written in: Calgary, Alberta, CANADA
Composition: 7 years after the fact, helped by notes from a travel diary
Previous Post: This Modern Hilot 

I forgot who was actually first to go down.
It may have been Ketchup, my Uncle The Kapitan's German Shepherd Dog. It happened before I had a chance to snap a photo of him - it was before I got a large capacity CF card (large for the Powershot A40 I was using for this trip), so I was conserving my shots. I have some photos of his brother from the same litter, Tito Nato's Fyker (or was that Piker?), but they looked nothing alike. Ketchup had a black face and was darker overall, perhaps more heavily built too. Too bad I was never able to befriend him, unlike Fyker whose trust I was able to win over little by little. "Intact" guard dog GSDs... you don't just approach them like any suburban family's Yellow Lab.

Fig 1: Selfie with Fyker, NOT Ketchup!
Ketchup just suddenly became inactive one day, refusing to eat his dinner. The next day, he was dead.

Uncle Tito and I buried him in the part of the Mango Orchard which slopes south. Going four feet down took a long time. The red clay of the Family property was both sticky and entirely non porous, I remember calling it "dense and tacky". It refused to be scooped out by the shovelful, yet it also absorbed efforts to loosen it up with a pickaxe.

When we lowered in Ketchup,


When we lowered in Ketchup, I felt weirded out by the whole affair. I mean, there I was, throwing dirt on top of this inanimate bag of fur that only a day ago was their Dog. Four feet down, red earth on top - no coffin, no papoose carrier wrapped around him, no blanket. I felt bad we weren't able to make better preparations, so I planted a coconut right on top (when you have many coconut trees, a lot of the fruit end up un-consumed, with many in various stages of germination).
Johnny, my Uncle's massive Doberman, followed no more than a few days later. He shared a grave with a mutt whose name I neglected to write down. When Johnny started showing signs of lethargy and refused to eat his dinner, we braced ourselves. The next day, we were surprised to find that two dogs had passed on.

Four feet down, red earth on top of them, up the slope from Ketchup.

Tigre, who was named both for his Brindle or "tiger stripes" as well as for looking like one of my Grandfather's most loyal, longest living dogs during the 1980's, also expired soon after.

Fig2: Chocolate, from Chocolate's earlier litters, also suddenly gave up the ghost. The symptoms were the same: Suddenly lethargic one day, refusing to eat by dinnertime, dead by the morning of the 29th of January. Whatever it was, it gave us no time for observation and diagnosis, let alone any visits to the vet. I also buried him in the Mango orchard, but on the eastern tip of the Family property, far from Ketchup, Johnny, and the unnamed mutt. Four feet down, red earth on top.

Then, things got weird.

Spot, the dog who spotted a Cobra, had been demoted to silo/kamalig guard duty for biting one of Barangay Tumana's Kagawads. He was chained up with a long run all to himself. I guess he never really got the hang of it like the cliché junkyard dogs here in North America. One night, Spot went to sleep up a high perch - on one of the farm Jeep's trailers. I suppose during the course of the night, he decided to come down from that perch. Unfortunately, he chose a path down which was not his same path up. His chain got tangled and he ended up hanging himself, Brooks style. He was already stiff and cold when we found him the next morning, dangling by his neck.

My notebook says the 1st of February 2007 when I buried him.

That is how Spot kicked the bucket. Became the late Spot. Shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. An Ex-Dog.
Fig3: Centuries Old Mango Tree

Like the others, I consigned him to the mango orchard, four feet down, red earth on top.

Coffee the puppy, Cream's brother from Chocolate's latest litter then, was ran over by a Tricycle while I was away in Makati.

In all, seven dogs met their maker during my time in my Grandfather's old place in Tumana, Santa Maria, Bulacan. I personally dug and buried five of them in graves four feet deep, red earth on top.

I'm not going to lie: I was affected by all this death. 

In the back of my mind, I may have even entertained the possibility that it may have been my fault. Of course, there was no logical reason for that - it was all just a weird coincidence. Perhaps some sort of canine disease struck the place and brought down five dogs, the other two being unfortunate accidents. Still, I thought I was bad luck or a jinx, despite not believing in such things. I mean, 7 dogs down in one freaking month!?

Cousin Marco even joked that had this been the middle ages, I would have been accused of sorcery, vampirism, or witchcraft. "Burn him at the stake! He brought death to this place!"

I thought to myself, 'what a vacation so far... everyone and everything's dying.'

Next Post: Chalky and Unpalatable: Unscrupulous road-side vendor tactics.

Related Posts: This Modern Hilot
                          A Snake!

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