I’ve been looking at houses to move to lately and I’m discovering that many landlords do not like to rent to families that have dogs. Sorry, no dogs allowed. I’ve heard that a number of times in my search for a place to live.
Growing up, we always had dogs in the house. My earliest memory is of Peanut, a white hairy mutt with a lush tail and a brown spot on his back, hence the name Peanut. He was friendly and loyal but no one paid him much attention, except my brother Jake, who liked animals. Peanut was just there, as part of the household. We once lost him, he must have gone through a door left open, but my brother found him a month later, several blocks away, on the other side of a very busy avenue where we lived. Poor Peanut was probably too terrified of the traffic to cross back to the house.
Another time, two houseboys armed with dos por dos were battling each other in the backyard and one of them accidentally hit Peanut on the head, rendering him unconscious. We cried, thinking he was dead, but he got up after a while and lived a few more years.
We also had Machote, who might have been a Chihuahua, given to us by my Mom’s uncle. Despite the name, Machote must have been female because soon there were many little puppies of unknown provenance that we were too unimaginative or uncaring to name individually. We called all of them Snoopy. Many years later, I met an Army general who told me that when he was a child, he went to our house with my cousin to pick up his first puppy from our litter of Snoopys.
We also had Prince for a while, a big black dog given by a priest that was so fierce it had to be tied and kept away from Peanut and us children. We were deathly afraid of Prince. One lazy afternoon, my brother Gabby and I were in the houseboy’s quarters, a back room in the basement, learning how to roll tobacco leaves into cigars from Inay, our cook, who would smoke them with the lighted end inside her mouth. We spent the better part of the afternoon there without a worry in the world. Later, we learned that, unbeknownst to us, that entire afternoon, the fearsome Prince was sitting quietly under the houseboy’s papag (slatted bamboo bed), doing us no harm. Still, he would be trouble and my father returned him to the priest.
Dogs were a casual presence in the house. We weren’t into pedigrees. And they were never seen by a vet. My cousins were more particular about their dogs. They had two boxers named Sheba and Solomon. They were big and ugly and playful and I was very afraid of them. I spent a summer with my cousins in their home in Surigao where close encounters with those two spirited canines left me traumatized. Knowing I was afraid of Solomon and Sheba, my cousin GV locked me in a bedroom alone with the two dogs. I ended up on top of a double deck bed crying, begging to be rescued as the dogs jumped up and down, barking and trying to reach me. I was later told that they just wanted to get to know me better.
I thought I would never ever get used to dogs. I did not need them in my life. Fast forward to eight years ago, when my granddaughter entered my room carrying a blond puppy that her father had brought home. “What is THAT?” I demanded. “Take it away. I will not have a dog in my house.”
It was Iced Tea, an Aspin (Asong Pinoy) who has since stolen my heart. He turned eight on April 7. Much as I resisted having a dog at home, Iced Tea easily became part of the family. He is so handsome and well-cared for, people ask what breed he is. I can only laugh. Iced Tea is the only survivor in an unwanted litter. He is proof positive that tender loving care can make a common street dog beautiful.
Five months ago, we were given another dog, Costco, who is half Chihuahua, a quarter Maltese and a quarter Dachshund. Costco is small, nosy, frisky and needy. Iced Tea, the elegant mongrel, looks downright regal beside him.
Iced Tea and Costco are now part of the family, which is extended enough as it is, including my housekeeper, her husband and their three grown children who were born and raised in my home. The dogs have invaded every space, including my bed which, until recently, was off-limits to four-legged creatures.
We are hooked — and doomed. Now they are a liability in our search for a new home.
No dogs allowed? That’s inhuman and inhumane.