Unknown-May 4, 2008
Beloved Friend, Outsmarter of Cats (and Humans), Lover of Chinese Food
We weren’t ready for her to leave us, but Dogma always came and went as she pleased.
There was one time she went missing for nearly twenty-four hours. My brothers and I searched the entire village in the wee hours of the morning but she was nowhere to be found. We were all sick with worry, but she eventually came home looking perfectly healthy and unscathed. I scolded her severely, and she just looked at me like I’d grown two heads, thinking me silly for being so upset that she’d come home late from a hot date or a night out on the town with the girls. After all, she’d already proven that she was more than capable of defending herself, whether it was against other dogs twice her size or people who tried to take her against her will.
It’s a rule in the village that dogs must be chained at all times, but Dogma would have none of that. She wandered about freely, and she fought the dogcatchers who tried to impound her so fiercely that eventually they just gave up. She was a law unto herself. She would not be tamed, she couldn’t be caged, she refused to wear a collar and leash and you could never get her to do anything she didn’t want to do.
As such, I’ve never walked Dogma. Following her around as she strutted up and down Sampaguita Street was the closest the two of us ever got to walking, and it always felt more like she was walking me than I her. Sometimes she waited for me to catch up, sometimes she didn’t, especially when she spied cats or tricycles or water delivery trucks invading what was, as far as she was concerned, her kingdom. She was a sovereign who ruled from our front steps, always inquisitive and keenly alert as she observed activities of our family, her loyal subjects.
There’s a guy with cart who comes around to collect aluminum cans and Dogma would watch with interest as our maids handed over our recyclables. One day she trotted up to the guy herself, in her mouth a plastic bag filled with aluminum cans. The cans couldn’t have come from our house, because all we ever drink at home is diet Coke and Dogma’s bundle contained an assortment of cans. How or why she did these things was a mystery to us.
There’s a lot we didn’t know about Dogma. We didn’t even know what sort of dog she was, how old she was or where she came from. She appeared out of nowhere one day, decided that, for silly humans, we weren’t so bad, and simply never left.
A few days after she’d made herself quite at home she gave birth to puppies, the first of many litters that would be born at 28 Sampaguita. We couldn’t keep them, but we made sure they found good homes. They were characters all, inheriting their mother’s quirkiness and intelligence. Our friends who adopted them never run out of hilarious stories to tell about the adventures of Dogma’s children.
We didn’t name her until months after we’d gotten her. For a while she was “Mommy Dog” or just “Mommy,” which made things at home a tad confusing.
Kids: Mommmy! Mommy! Come here, Mommy!
Kids: Not you! The dog!
It was my dad who decided to call her Dogma, which he thinks is a clever play on words. (And it is, Dad, really.)
There’s a bald spot on the front lawn that marks the site of Dogma’s frantic digging. Dogma never did anything for no reason, and I’m convinced that if she’d kept at it just a little longer she would’ve struck oil. I get teary-eyed whenever I pass that spot, which is everyday because it’s on the way to the front door.
Coming home just isn’t the same without her waiting to greet me on the steps, her tail a whirling propeller of happiness. She never failed to lift my spirits. For years it’s been my habit to sit outside with her as I cleared my head and sorted through my emotions. She was a friend whose company I sought whenever I was troubled. She was perfectly happy to sit next to me for hours, and her presence is a comfort I miss dearly.
Cheers to you, Dogma. You brought our family so much joy and we’ll love you and remember you always.