Living with dogs

I used to dislike dogs. In fact, I wouldn’t consider myself an animal lover. It was nice to imagine a life with a cute, smooth-haired pooch that was always well-behaved and did not poop or pee. But that was as far as that dream went—I only imagined owning and caring for a dog.

When I was a child, we had a small dog called Crispa (yes, named after our family’s favorite basketball team) and I clearly remember hating it because it was always running after me. The two other dogs that came after him—Nero and Wowie—were equally resented by yours truly.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I bought my son, a little boy at the time, a basset hound to keep him company. I tried to care for that one, but in the end, we had to give him to a friend because the new apartment we moved into had a “no dog policy”.

Klaushee, a liver line shih tzu, is now 16 months old

My indifference toward dogs disappeared when Klaushee waddled into my life early this year. My sister’s weird BPO hours made it difficult for her to care for the shih tzu puppy so I agreed to adopt him. I knew close to nothing about caring for dogs, but I had no choice but to learn along the way. I am no expert and I owe a lot to the other members of our household who are doing more than their share of the responsibilities.

One strange day, we woke up with the impulse to get another one as a companion to Klaushee. From the moment we saw Krimih’s picture from the post of an FB friend, we were intrigued by this new baby shih tzu. You see, his fur is so dark that it’s sometimes impossible to locate his eyes. In the black night he could disappear into the shadows, and in the sun his deep brown puppy fur turns golden with random specks of white. We thought he was beautiful in every way. But of course, we soon realized that wasn’t wholly true.

He lives for only one thing: his food.

 He is noisy and is never satisfied even if his tummy looks as if it’s about to burst. He is fearless, very assertive, confident, and audacious. He wouldn’t stop until he gets what he wants. And he is noisy. But unlike his kuya Klaushee, he does not mind thunder, lightning, fireworks, and other loud noises. Unlike Klaushee who is clingy, he can sleep alone in the sala with all the lights turned off. At two months, he is a rowdy, rackety ball of brown fur. Krimih is our slightly overweight puppy without a discernible face.

He is sweet, sensitive and curious.

Sometimes, when mornings are hectic with deadlines and meetings and there’s dog poop to be picked up, dog bowls to fill, and a kasambahay who is in the market, I have no choice but to do these tasks myself. I mean, to do them first before working, something I am not used to because I am this workaholic writer who is at her desk at 4 a.m. and doesn’t usually appreciate disruptions. On mornings like these, I can feel my BP shoot up. But Klaushee, the more sensitive one, knows he must intervene.

He would climb on my lap and give me wet “kissniffs” on the cheek, neck, and shoulder. He would snuggle close as if to say, “Relax, calm down, you got this.” I get it. And it’s great because I know he gets me, too. It’s a far better intervention than Captopril and it doesn’t come with unpleasant side effects. This 16-month-old doggie can sense when I’m tired, when I’m anxious, when I’m sick, stressed out, or frustrated. He just knows.

3-month pup Krimih is the fearless one.

Here then are a few things I learned as a new dog owner, as far as keeping a pet-friendly home is concerned. You might find these useful if you are considering adopting or buying a dog, especially a puppy.

Buy plenty of floor mats, rags, towels, blankets, and wipes because they make a lot of mess. Old newspapers will come in handy, too.

Stock up on cleaning aids. You can buy liquid disinfectants that are safe for pets. Check the online stores.

If you have enough space, fence in a portion of a room so your puppy has a safe and clean play area. You can buy modular fences that you can assemble yourself to fit your available space.

If you need to leave your pet unattended for a short while, keep it safe by putting it inside a cage. Again, there are collapsible models available online.

If you are going to leave your pet unattended, make sure it cannot access any plugged appliance. Little dogs like to chew on things, including cords and cables.

Make sure that there are no small objects within their reach to avoid choking. Make sure their toys have no removable parts or filling that they can swallow and choke on. Don’t let them play with objects that can break into small pieces.

Keep all toxic substances, human food, and medicines, away from pets and their play area.

Your trash bins and toilet bowls need to be tightly sealed or lidded all the time so they can’t access their harmful contents.

Check resources online to find out if your house plants are toxic to animals.

Do not use footwear inside the home if you use them outdoors. These can carry viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms that can kill your pets.

I think I have come a long way from being that person who disliked dogs. And even if my little dog story is nothing extraordinary, it’s really those two—Klaushee and Krimih—that make this tale just a bit special.