Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Critters





Legend tells of Ravens being kept at the Tower of London. It is said that if the birds leave, the Kingdom and the Crown would crumble. And so ten Ravens are kept, housed and fed at the government's expense. They even have a personal attendant to make sure their needs are met. One cannot blame the English for extending such graciousness to the birds. Tradition holds sway over the heart of a nation never before conquered since its founding.

Same belief holds true in a house susceptible to strife among its members. For its companionship and comic relief, a house cat and a dog has been a mainstay at home.

The presence of these critters inside the house has been allowed since the no-pet policy was lifted more than a decade ago. The first dog - a direct descendant of the one we have at present - was a gift from my mom's personal manicurist. It was received by the driver after the manicurist's resident askal had given birth to several puppies. The female canine had brown coat. Its black nose was slightly short and it had pointed ears.

The first dog gave birth to several batches of puppies - all of them were handed over to aspiring owners wanting a pet of their own. Years went by and the first dog has grown old. We then realized the need to preserve her heritage. Our decision to keep one of her offspring the last time she got pregnant was very timely. For in less than a year after raising her puppy, the first dog passed away.

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The story of cats kept inside the house was as fleeting as their stay in the family; for we have a habit of throwing them away once our patience runs out in tolerating their habits. Most cats we had were picked off from the streets. They were cleaned, fed and later adopted. I remember a time when I pulled a kitten from a trash bin just when a storm was about to pass above the city. That cat grew to become a vegetarian only to dump his shit around the house. As the cat tried to put our patience beyond its limit, we decided to throw him away. It would take a long time before I could convince my mother to adopt another cat from an ex-colleague who runs a pet store.

This new cat was a half-Persian breed. We were told to handle it delicately. The cat had an attitude and was spoiled by its previous owner. It took almost a year before she became accustomed to our presence. After she had given birth to its first kittens, the Persian half-breed learned to steal food from the table. She also began defecating inside the house. Soon, the decision became clear. The cat had to leave but her kitten was allowed to stay and take her place. It was our hope that she would undo the mistake of her mother and change our perception of the bratty felines.






The resident dog and the kitten have learned to live in harmony. Its like no inter-species animosity was ever ingrained in their instincts. They rose above their stereotypes and taught us a great deal about co-existence. The neighbors were impressed that we're able to keep two rival animals under one roof. Except when competing for food, the dog doesn't mind the cat's business.

The presence of a dog and a cat has made our lives a little less stressful. The dog would sense the arrival of the family car and it would bark and jump and chase the vehicle until it stops right in front of the doorway. The dog knows the master of the house is aboard and would love to be the first to greet her arrival. Meanwhile, the cat sits nearby and lets the dog hoard the attention.

When the dog needs affection, it would wag its tail or press its nose against a body part. It learned to mimic what the cat does to get what she wants. Sometimes the dog would also use her paw to poke us or even jump at a person when she gets really excited. Her expressiveness runs in contrast to the ever secretive cat who would call our attention only when she's hungry. Nevertheless, it was the cat who meows all the time and would visit the rooms in search for a mouse to catch.

So far, she hasn't left her nauseating droppings inside the house.

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In all the years we kept animal companions, it never crossed my mind to pay extra attention to their needs. We fed them whatever leftovers we had. We let them roam and explore as far as they want. Sometimes we would even let the dog drag the garbage in front of the house and just clean it when the maid decides so. I have never given the dog a bath or wipe the shit dumped by the cat.

It was always the helpers' job.

But these past few months, I noticed how the pets depended on us for food. When there were no meals to spare, they were forced to steal from the neighbors' table or search the trash for any morsel they could snatch. They have learned to beg especially when one is eating on the table. They would patiently wait, until a slab of meat or vegetable was intentionally dropped for the dog and the cat to fight over.

Such things made me think about ourselves and how we treat those bringing relief when life was too hard for us to bear.



So a decision was made. The pets deserve a break.

Burrowed beneath a high-rise building is the new Arranque Market. It is the place to go when buying pet breeds or exotic animals at very low prices. It is also the place where fowls and birds of many species were sold in cages too small; one would think their treatment as inhuman. Arranque was my destination. It was where I got the pellets that would become the staple of the pets' new diet.

Despite being short on cash, I was able to buy dog and cat feeds for 200 Pesos. The lady who runs the store said the feeds could last a month. Arriving home, the first thing I did was to introduce the new diet to the critters. They were well received with the dog frantically begging for more.

The pellets diet is just one of the steps I am planning to introduce to improve the well-being of our pets. The kitten that was up for adoption hasn't been delivered yet to BackintheCloset, but I will find time. In a sense, this move to address the pets' needs is just but a small step towards greater involvement in the affairs of the home.



I arrived home late one morning after coming from a party. The dog was waiting at the driveway and was eager to get inside the house. Unlocking the door, I found the cat licking her coat near the staircase. She merely uttered "meow" before following me to the kitchen. With my head swirling and my stomach threatening to throw out its contents, I was regretful for letting myself get intoxicated. Turning on the stove to heat some water, I planned to take a bath to get the alcohol off my head. Minutes passed as I lied down the sofa and waited for the water to boil. No human presence has ever greeted me since my arrival as I avoided getting caught going home drunk. Everything was peaceful, and despite in a state between being sober and getting more wasted, I remember picking up the cat and placing her on my stomach, while the dog watches patiently not far from the sofa. Both animals stayed until I could finally find the strength to get up and move on.




12 comments:

ʎonqʎʇıɔ said...

how cute! my cat keeps me company too when i'm drunk.

i'm' more of a cat person meeself. i remember the first cat we ever had. we loved it so much. each meow was greeted with a collective awwwww from eveyone who heard it. she took so much attention from our poodle-terrier that the poor thing decided to try meowing for attention. it sounded like a half-howl. sadly though, it didn't get the same response. lol

is that your cat drinking from your dog's teat? how odd!

engel said...

i remember a couple of months ago, 2 of my dogs gave birth. one of the mothers murdered one of the other's puppy. yet, now she's letting the murdered pup's sibling get milk from her.

animals are funny.

red the mod said...

We too have a dog and a cat at home. Both male, although I think their gay, or at least the cat. This seems deja vu, like I've mentioned this before.

Beautiful how we find the most philosophical perspectives of the human condition in certain sublime and seemingly ordinary things. And how you've narrated this epiphany is elegant and humble. Your muse gifted you with a visit. :)

Galen said...

Nyl:

Your story reminds me of a black cat I had many years ago. Before dogs were admitted in the household, all we had were cats. Mokona, as we fondly called him was the darling among the three cats in the pack. He was my favorite. Sadly, when we moved to a new home, he was abandoned. I don't know what happened to the poor cat but there are times I'd love owning a black cat again.

Yeah, the dog and the cat in the picture are the pets I'm referring to. The cat has already grown old, and the dog, is pregnant again.

Galen said...

Engel:

For a mother dog to murder her pups is a little bit strange, for at home, such incident never happens. Perhaps the killing was accidental?

Red:

For a muse to inspire me, it took almost five hours to finish this entry. But I'm glad you were able to see the sublimity behind the story.

I agree with you that our human condition is reflected on how we treat the creature dwelling among us. In our case we have decided to improve their living conditions.

Hopefully, the changes would be permanent.

domjullian said...

in harmony din mga pusa at aso sa bahay namin. they all mananged to co-exist including some birds.

cio said...

tsong, nakakatuwa yung photo. ahaha. yung pusa namin di nagnanakaw ng pagkain sa lamesa. tas yung aso, di nambabasura. sa labas pareho nagbabawas ng dumi. pusakal at askal sila pero my breeding. seryoso nga. hehe.

nakakamiss tuloy. wala akong hayop na pedeng paglaruan sa dubai. (grins)

Johnny Cursive said...

teach me how to go to arranque? maybe come with me and sidekick? i'm looking for my new cat =)

Galen said...

Johnny:

Tell me when, and I'll bring you there.

Cio:

Akala ko ba may pet cobra ka. Diba, kuwento mo sa akin nun yun? *grin*

Swerte mo, wala kayong problemang ganun.

DomJullian:

That's good. They could actually exist so long as they get used to each other.

bunwich said...

i suddenly miss PUTOCHI...When I cry, he'll lick my tears and stay by my side

cio said...

tumatango-tango si pet cobra ngayon.

LOL

Galen said...

Bunwhich:

Lemme guess, Putochi is your dog companion no?

Dencio:

Pahawak!