We didn’t see it coming.
Marit was one of two half-breed labradors who joined our family early this decade. You may have guessed it right if you got the M2M reference — the other lab, her sister, is named Marion.
Marit has been in the family for 12 years, give or take one or two. Her sister was adopted by a neighbor when both of them bore pups amounting to 16 and their upkeep became financially unsound for a lower middle class family like ours. That’s 84 years in human years.
Her passing away might thus be dismissed as mere old age, and I might be dismissed as the dog’s usual overly sentimental human. But I remember her frolicking inside the house just a week ago. There were no signs of slowing down, though her more than a month’s worth of unending hacking and gagging indicating a possible stuck piece of bone in the throat, and could have been a reason for her unexpected demise. Still, the coughing fits seemed like just an afterthought to her, gobbling up food like the stuck piece of bone was just another matter of fact.
The weight in my heart is still heavy as I write this, 30 minutes after realizing Marit is gone. I couldn’t help my father tucking her in a sack in preparation for burial. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her again, eyes vaguely open and just still all over. But I also couldn’t cry. The whole family already did a couple of years ago, when Marit chased and bit a huge toad in the front yard. She ended up not being able to stand in utter weakness, silently trembling and eyes in quiet pain. But after giving her aid, she was healthy and over-enthusiastic once again the following day. And all was well again.
Though I differ with their perspectives, Marit made me understand where animal welfare activists come from — pet dogs really are invaluable members of the family, a positive part of our environment. They are the ultimate stress-relieving furballs, waiting for you with exuberant barks and speed-demon tail wags when you come home from a day’s work of being an environmental activist taking on the country’s biggest ecological threats. Their poop is everywhere except their favorite spots to eat in. They are the most effective deterrents to security threats. And conveniently, they love left-overs.
Walang sinabi yung entertainment na nakukuha ng mga customer ng sabungan ng aso kumpara sa katuwaan na i-pet ang mga aso, kahit abutin ka pa ng oras. Kahit ilang oras pa. Gusto nila yun.
I will always remember you Marit, you who started out as a pup regularly terrified from the mean streets we call “our pre-teen stage”; You who became a fierce alpha-dog who threatened to bite us every time we attempted to force discipline; You who mellowed down into the loveable and loving chocolate brown lab as we got to know you more, got to treat you better, and got to be with you during our jubilations and tribulations. You left fine proteges in this world, Porkchop the black baby-face, and Chopsuey his cream-colored sister. May they continue your legacy.
All of us: me, my father, my mother who still doesn’t know this as of press time, my brother, his karelasyon, my karelasyon, Porkchop and Chopsuey — we will surely miss you. And we look forward to the day when all dogs will be able to live life fully like you did.
P.S. I googled for “dog is man’s best friend” for therapy. I finally found the tears when I saw this one: