Pets are like family. For the most part, we watch them grow up. We feed them, care for them, and love them. And in return, we are loved by them as well, and they give us comfort and protection. A pet, no matter how big or how small, becomes an important member of the family. Gaining them is like gaining a family member, or a best friend. Also, losing them is like losing a family member, and a best friend.
At times like this, I remember clearly the saying that a dog is man’s best friend. For me, my 8 year old baby Labrador Retriever Taka was my best friend. He passed away last week, July 14, amidst the storm that hit the country.
Taka came to us when he was only around 2 months old. His mother was my uncle’s pet, and my dad finally allowed us to have a big furry dog at home. It was special for me as all my other siblings were still in the province on vacation, so I got to pick a dog from the litter of puppies of Maxine (my uncle’s dog). They were all cute and furry and really excitable. How I picked one from among all of them, I cannot remember. But there was so much excitement in bringing home a dog that was mine. His first night at home was not a very good night. As I was getting ready to go back to bed, I could hear a soft crying sound, it was my new puppy. He was lonely and wanted someone with him. So I stayed until he had fallen asleep and went back to bed. Minutes later, the crying ensued again. It was like that for most of the night till I finally decided to sleep by him on the couch.
Naming him was difficult. As I was a very avid Japan fan at that time, I decided to name him after my favorite character from the anime Fushigi Yuugi, Tamahome. But the vet had told me that it was too long a name for a dog to remember, so I shortened it to Taka, Tamahome’s re-incarnation in the anime. Another thing that I recall about Taka’s childhood was this lump on his forehead which he had since we had gotten him. It had to be surgically removed by the vet.
One thing notable about Taka even until recently, is how much of a strong dog he is. He’s gotten into so many scrapes and messes over the years, that it makes him hard to forget how old he really has become. Once when he was younger, as one of our cars was going out of the driveway, he ran out unto the road and got hit by an incoming car. Luckily, only his leg was hit, but he had to go to the vet for stitches. Another time, I remember coming home from High School and greeting him like I always do. After going up to my room to do normal teenage stuff like surfing the net and whatnot, I remember one of our maids screaming that Taka had been covered in blood. As it turns out, he had a huge gash on his side. We discovered that the license plate on one of our cars had folded outward a little, and the space between that car and our patio was usually the space he would go through when getting to us. He tried to squeeze himself in and accidentally got cut. That I remember, was one hell of a night. I was crying in the car, all the way to the vet as the vet had to drug him and told us to leave him with them for the night.
Taka was also one heck of a runner. When he was much younger, he would run around the yard, in-between cars and across the driveway. We would often play games to see who was fastest when running from the gate to the patio. Sometimes I would get there first, sometimes he would. It makes me wonder if he had slowed down for my sake. Taka, was also a very smart dog. He was a quick learner and understood people. When he became much bigger and much older, we would have to lock him up in the garage whenever friends and family would come over. It came to a point that even when people weren’t inside our yard yet, as long as you motioned for him to go into the garage, he would automatically bark. Of course, he was also a very jealous dog. One time when we had gotten new dachshunds, he became possessive and without-my-knowledge (as I was standing next to him), he peed on me.
Despite that, his good traits and his flaws, Taka was kind and obedient. He was sweet and caring. He was, really, man’s best friend. Oftentimes when I was in High School, I would come home from school and just sit beside him in the garden. I’d talk to him, pat him, sometimes even use his stomach as a pillow. He always knew where to sit, which was either beside me or by my legs, even without being told to do so.
Throughout my High School and College years, Taka was always beside me. He grew up with me and endured with me, he loved me and cared for me. He was there during the tumultuous times of my teenage life. He was indeed a pet like no other. So last Wednesday, as I had just gotten back to bed after waking up early in the morning just to have breakfast, my maid told me that Taka had passed away. I rushed to the patio and found him there, as if sleeping. I poked him like I always do to check, but he didn’t react. Even when I patted him on the head and rubbed his nose, he lay three lifeless. It’s not something I hadn’t been expecting, but it was still a sad surprise. Taka had not been feeling well for the last few months, and constant visits to the vet still produced the same results, he was still barfing up most of his food and getting thinner. I was actually very worried that I would leave for Beijing and would just find out abroad that Taka had already passed away without me being by his side. Still, seeing him sleeping as I said my last goodbyes was one of the hardest things. The coming of the typhoon could have weakened Taka’s body and he had just died in his sleep. I don’t know. I can only hope that his last few moments were without pain or suffering. Like the death that I someday wish for myself, I hope that I can just go to bed and have God take my soul away. To die in one’s sleep, I think is one of the greatest last wishes anyone can hope to receive.
As I end this entry, I want to remember the happy times I spent with Taka. While the pain is still fresh, remembering only brings tears, but it will someday allow me to remember the dog that brought me so much happiness. I will add here to the ending the post I made on my facebook, “I believe dogs go to heaven. To my baby, I miss you and hope you’re in a better place. Thank you for the 8 wonderful years.”
Someday, I’ll see him again. Thank you, and goodbye, Taka. I will love you always.
March 22, 2002 – July 14, 2010