The sad plight of Japan's abandoned dogs
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2011-04-21
One of the sad stories that emerged on international television about the effects of the big earthquake and the subsequent tsunami it caused in Northeastern Japan are the dogs that have also become casualties of the disaster. Last week, CNN featured the dogs that were abandoned by owners who were forced to evacuate to safety from the Fukushima nuclear leak.

An enterprising journalist entered the danger zone and discovered the many dogs that were either dead or starving. Of course, this was an unavoidable development. With all the pressures on the shoulders of the Japanese people and government, we cannot expect them to allocate time and resources to saving pets. It stands to reason that evacuating people from the danger zone of the Fukushima nuclear leak was the top priority. In the crisis they were in, the Japanese government had to allocate all its available resources for saving people and rehabilitating the disaster survivors who have lost their homes and means of livelihood.

Your Chair Wrecker couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of pity and sadness for the canines and other pets despite my appreciation of the reasons why these pets were abandoned. I’m sure many other pet owners felt the same way if they saw that CNN story. For many pet owners, the animals are not just some sort of a hobby — they’ve become objects of human affection.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for dogs. No doubt, cinema and television — Old Yeller, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Grayfriars Bobby and so forth — had bolstered that affection for the one animal we call man’s best friend. In my youth, I’ve always wanted to have a dog but my asthma condition wouldn’t permit it. Even if my asthma could tolerate the canine company, there were two other asthmatics in our family, my father and younger brother Richard, who would have been jeopardized.

It was only after the 1986 Snap Election, on the week before the People Power Revolution when I finally decided to get a dog. Cory Media Bureau Special Operations Director Jimmy Joseph told me that Fernando Zobel de Ayala had a litter of Beagle thoroughbreds and was open to selling a few of them. We went to the Zobel home in Forbes Park and saw Fernando’s litter. I chose the biggest of the lot, a tri-colored female named Nanda. Nanda was bred from the Zanyo champion line.

After acquiring Nanda, I had to plan how to transport her home. I was driving alone and so we placed her beside the driver’s seat inside a carton box. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. Nanda was well behaved all throughout the 40 minutes it took to drive home and she was this well behaved all through the 12 years she had spent with us.

My wife Mey had no inkling whatsoever that I was bringing home Nanda. She met me at the carport and immediately noticed the box beside me. When Mey opened the car door to check what I had brought home, the sight of Nanda made her face light up like a Christmas tree. You could see the emotion that the sight of Nanda had stirred in Mey.

There must really be a special bond between man and dog. Somehow, Nanda also relished the foods that Mey and I loved to eat. Nanda had a special liking for lanzones and being from the hound canine group — she could smell when Mey and I were eating lanzones inside our bedroom. Nanda would claw at our bedroom door to partake of the seasonal favorite and we were wise to let her in immediately lest she destroys our bedroom door.

Mey and I shed tears when it was time to put Nanda to sleep. Nanda was followed by Buffy, a female American Cocker Spaniel — a gift from former Representative Emily Lopez. Buffy would outdo Nanda in the eating department. Both Nanda and Buffy became terribly overweight. A house guest once mistook Nanda for a Bulldog which is almost double the weight of a Beagle.

Buffy was succeeded by Chiquitito, a gift from Gary Vazquez of Vazbuilt fame. Chiquitito is a male Lhasa Apso and is smaller than Nanda and Buffy. Do not make the mistake though of underestimating Chiquitito. He is the terror of our neighborhood and has even mastered the art of psychological warfare.

Every time we have a visitor, we have to lock Chiquitito inside his “condo” to avoid spending for another anti rabies treatment of his next victim. Inside his “condo” and as the visitor enters the premises - Chiquitito would snarl at the terrified guest and even bite at the iron grills, as if to magnify his message.

You cannot help but admire dogs for how they’ve succeeded in elevating their status and level of esteem with humans. In the old days, dogs didn’t have their special place in a man’s heart and home. The expressions “a dog’s life” (a miserable existence) and “going to the dogs” (hopeless deterioration) reflect how low in the totem pole dogs used to be regarded.

Seeing how dogs attained their present pampered existence, maybe some folks should consider learning lessons from the canines on upward social mobility.

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