Friday, January 23, 2009


This article was first published in Animal Scene, April 2008
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By Ninong Alex

It was the day before Christmas. As I was about to check on Tisoy, our six-month old spitz, and Epoy, a pure pekingese, both wallowing in the terrace, I espied a gray object moving on the driveway. From the corner of my eye, I took congnizance of our unexpected guest – a pigeon - unexpected maybe but not unwelcome.

I beckoned to my wife who was coincidentally coming out of the kitchen. Hurriedly, she took a front seat view. And as if to delight the master and the mistress of the house, the unexpected guest came pecking on the screened iron grill gate of the terrace. I ignored my wife’s look of succor for so many reasons. First, it will mess the house with its droppings. Second, it may ruin the decoration particularly the Christmas tree. Third, we honestly don’t know anything about pigeons. With a smirk, my wife went for the terrace gate as if to tell me that I was jumping to conclusions. Yes and no. Yes because all those 3 reasons are true. No because I was afraid that the pigeon may stay and be endeared to us and another heartache when it leaves. It had been 7 months since Jedi, our beloved askal, passed away but we still couldn’t reconcile with the loss. So, another undue attachment is unwelcome.
Twinkle at feeding time

Before my wife could open the terrace’s steel gate, the pigeon had already moved away. That’s when we noticed that our maid was now sweeping the fallen leaves on the front yard and that the pigeon was following her wherever she went. The pigeon was evidently a fledgling (I declared this after consulting the internet) because it was walking to and fro, seeming that it couldn’t fly yet. And I assumed that fledglings are normally tame since there was nary a protest when our maid scooped it with her hand.

Upon close examination, I saw the pigeon’s full crop of plumage, gray with rainbow colors in the neck. It looked so young and frail and probably hungry because it gobbled up the grains of rice that our maid scattered on the ground. And before any bonding starts, I decided to give it a free ride on the December breeze. It flexed its wings but daintily landed on my feet. And after an applause by my wife and our maid, I shook my head and headed for the kitchen to mind the food for the Noche Buena.

My vocal cords got an early Christmas morning exercise with a scream upon seeing the messy car’s roof. And the pigeon, which was roosted on the garage cabinet, glided down and quickly walked to my feet as if to console me or maybe to admit its fault. And thinking to myself that the bird seemed to have a mind of its own, I gazed at the driveway and the front yard in it’s entirety. The only way in (our territory) is by flying over the gate. And so as not to spoil my Christmas with speculative thinking , I just asked our maid to clean the car. I was positive that our guest would be gone before we knew it.

Twinkle. Our maid had christened the pigeon. I drew out a sneer to indicate that it would be embarrassing if that pigeon turned out to be a male. And by the way, why was it still here? It was already two days after Christmas. With the mystery getting deeper, I disturbed some friends to inquire if homing pigeons just home in on any home. I got 3 negative answers and 1 undecided. But unanimous was their opinion that if the pigeon had indeed stayed overnight with us then it might stay. However, the professional opinion was that pigeons live by pairs and that a pigeon may not survive the loneliness of living alone.

On the next day, I succumbed to the request of my wife and our maid. The neighborhood carpenter was summoned to build a home for Twinkle. But the carpenter misunderstood the instructions. He had constructed not a roosting bay but a cage. We cannot afford to have Twinkle in a cage. How could she if she decides to leave? So Twinkle was back in the garage with her early morning droppings on our car.
Twinkle's egg and feathers

On the year’s last Saturday morning while cleaning the driveway with water, Twinkle again glided down from her perch to join me. And it was anticipating the pouring water from my pail. It was actually taking a bath! Having caught my fancy, I asked my wife to get the camera and take pictures and videos of the bathing pigeon. And having bathed, she was given permission to enter not just the terrace but also the house. We were all amazed because Twinkle never used her wings as she walked straight to the dining room then to the kitchen before checking the expanse of the living room and finally going upstairs by hopping. I would like to believe my wife’s and our maid’s idea that Twinkle is the reincarnation of Jedi, our faithful dog who was with us for 10 years.

On New Year’s day, we brought Epoy and Tisoy for a stroll in Tagaytay’s cool weather. We came home after dusk only to find that Twinkle was gone. After looking around, our maid started to cry. And before I could say a word, we heard that familiar cooing sound. Like a child hiding, Twinkle was in the garage cabinet behind the curtain. That’s the time it dawned on me that Tisoy and Epoy had a foster sister now. Also, that gave me the impetus to uncover the mystery.

Since Twinkle couldn’t fly higher than 5 feet, there’s no other way she could have entered our yard except if someone had dropped her by the fence. And who would do that? And why was that pigeon so tame and acting like a dog who wanted to be with people all the time?

And it came to pass that Twinkle had earned a season pass in our house. Her droppings, however, were confined to the backrest of the sofa and the chair. Roosting in the garage at night, Twinkle’s first station in the morning was the terrace, usually under the divan which happens to be Epoy’s favorite hideaway. And if she got tired hiding, she would knock on the screen of our main door by flying vertically not unlike spiderman walking up the building. When she was not let in, she would run (not fly) to the backyard to knock either on the screen of the window or the screen door. And once inside the house, she would play with Tisoy’s drinking plate for a moment before going up to stay on the second floor landing which was Jedi’s favorite resting place. Her diet consisted of concentrate grains with a dash of uncooked rice plus a grated leaf of lettuce. She also loved biscuits and pandesal crumbs.
Twinkle carried by Ninong

As January ended, Twinkle had established her routine and even our dogs have been enamored by her closeness. Little by little, she had learned good aviation practices by flying to the ledge of our bedroom window and to the roof a week after. But she only flexed her wings when there was an audience.

The mystery further deepened when our maid was proved right in guessing the pigeon’s gender. Two days before Valentine, Twinkle had laid her first egg! Another round of research was in order. And my research proved right when Twinkle laid another egg after 44 hours. It takes 17 to 18 days of incubation for the egg to hatch and a male is required. In the first place, there was no male pigeon to speak of although my research tells that it was not that unusual for virgin pigeons to lay eggs.

Before the week was over, a neighbor called up to inquire about our pigeon. They had several pigeons but misfortune befell the coop and only 3 were left so they set it free. But it didn’t take long when the 2 pigeons died and the one left flew away. So common sense tells us that Twinkle was the survivor. But the neighbor denied Twinkle’s identity so we were back to square one.

And so Twinkle had converted the resting place into a nesting place. During the incubation period, the young mother would take 15-minute breaks, about 6 times a day. What’s funny was whenever there were people around, Twinkle would stand on the top of the stairs and coo loudly as if to summon us so she would be taken by hand to the terrace or outside of the house to empty her gizzard and to feed. If there were no attendants, Twinkle would just use the sofa’s backrest for a toilet and go back to her nest without eating.

Five days after the end of the incubation period, Twinkle had finally come to terms that her eggs wouldn’t hatch. But despite the failure, it is apparent that Twinkle is happy to rejoin her foster dog brothers and human family most of the daytime hours.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Original concoctions of Ninong... orig daw?

Q: Saan dinadala ang kabayo pag may sakit?
A: Sa horsepital
Q: Eh sino naman ang gumagamot sa aso pag may sakit?
A: Eh di ang DOGTOR
Breakfast time with Mommy, Twinkle, Tisoy, Epoy

Q: Kung ang aso ay may papeles ng kanyang pedigree, ano naman ang papeles ng ibon?

Ang tao pag naggu-goodbye, ang sinasabi ay INGATS.
Ang daga pag naggu-goodbye, ang sinasabi ay NGATNGATS.

Q: Anong breed ng aso ang pinakamaliit?
A: Breed na pan-dachshund.

Q: Anong breed ng aso ang mas maliit sa pan-dachshund?
Epoy and Ninang

Nagkukuwentuhan ang 2 aso:
Epoy: Alam mo, Tisoy, yan palang kalapati nating si Twinkle, pag hinatak mo ang kaliwang paa, kumakanta ng Bayang Magiliw.
Tisoy: Ha? Eh pag yung kanang paa ang hinatak mo?
Epoy: Magre-recite naman siya ng Panatang Makabayan.
Tisoy: Hehehe, lumang joke na yan, Kuya Epoy, pero itutuloy ko pa rin. Pag hinatak mo pareho ang dalawang paa, magmumura si Twinkle, ano?
Epoy: Hindi.
Tisoy: Eh anong mangyayari pag hinatak ang 2 paa niya?
Epoy: Aba, malay ko. Bakit di mo subukan.

At sinubukan nga ni Tisoy, hinatak niya ang 2 paa ni Twinkle. Plok-plok, iniputan siya ni Twinkle. Buti na lang hindi ibong adarna si Twinkle.
Tisoy in the car

Q: Ano ang tawag sa maraming anak ng isang aso?
A: Ano pa eh di SANGKATUTA.

Q: Ano ang tawag sa anak ng baboy?
A: Ano pa eh di Piglet.
Q: Ano naman ang tawag sa maliit na Piglet?

Saturday, January 10, 2009


This article was first published in Animal Scene, June 2008
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By Ninang Corie

For a neatnik like me, owning a pet is out of the question. And being childless is no reason at all because my husband and I had sealed a covenant to stay together, just the two of us, forever. But the first amendment to our covenant was ratified when I came out of the hospital after a delicate surgery. Chained near our front door was a puppy gnawing on my old slipper. With the prevalence of petty thievery in our neighborhood as the pretext, I submitted my membership to the silent majority with an understanding that the white-haired rascal would stay out of the house. Despite the black shade on both ears and half of its face that gave it a mischievous guise, the little creature canine surrendered its borrowed toy to my tugging hand. What you see is what you get in pets because, unlike humans, animals have no pretenses.

The puppy competed with the shadow of my husband. And whenever we arrive home, its brown-spotted tail would wag like an electric fan blade with matching yips and yaps to express its excitement. It shared in our food and even increased the consumption of our purified water. My husband would take time in bathing, grooming, and even nitpicking the puppy’s ears for sniping ticks. It is common knowledge that pets provide quality companionship, the reason why pets are popular with senior citizens and childless couples. A lot have been written on the therapeutic effects of caressing pets - from the cure of a simple headache to the astonishing recovery of stroke victims. In fact, some hospitals employ the so-called “pet visit” to cheer up the patients. To a pet lover, touching is the best stress reliever outside of medications.

When the puppy got sick, I didn’t have the heart to disagree with my husband in confining it to the nearest animal clinic. We were about to leave the clinic that night when we heard the puppy whining like a lost orphan. With genuine compassion, my hand reached for the steel matting of the cage. And when the puppy started licking my finger, I yielded to the fact that it had rightfully earned a place in my heart. To animals, especially pets, touching means love. Maybe that’s reason enough why some people treat their pets like an extended family member. It’s good to note that some people love pets but all pets love some people.
Jedi enjoys the grooming I give her

When the puppy came back from its sabbatical, it solicited my attention blatantly by constantly following me during my gardening hour. There were times it would ignore dinner unless I supervised her feeding. And although a far cry from Saver, the local wonder dog oftenly featured in television, our puppy easily learned to obey simple commands like sit, stay and stop. Plant lovers talk to their wards but pet lovers have the advantage of eliciting a reaction most of the times. Also, pets can behave like humans when given a fair treatment like our puppy who displayed proper decorum even during meal times where it just stayed under the table with a sheepish façade.

Soon, the yips and yaps turned into menacing barks that drove away pestering solicitors and messengers alike. Often mistaken for a he because of her ruffian looks, Jedi would sometimes present to us her prized trophy of a dead rat. We would like to believe that her threatening presence foiled any thievery attempt. Pets, especially dogs, are very protective of their loved ones. They exude genuine concern in times of distress. The brawny St. Bernard dogs earned their popularity by rescuing mountain climbers in the northern part of the globe and there are heroic tales where pets have forewarned their owners of a fire breakout.

Before Jedi’s first birthday, we acquired a home that we could call our very own. The iron-grilled front porch served as a spacious kennel for Jedi whose pet name is Jeding. But in a month’s time, she got sick again. We hied to the nearest pet clinic in our town of Cainta. The vague prognosis professed the amateurism of the young vet. The next vet was better with his suspicion of bladder stones (after confining Jedi for 3 days). But the fear of an operation got the better of me so we proceeded to Makati for a second opinion. Jedi was again confined. There is truth in the saying that the dog is man’s best friend because a pet and its owner normally develop some kind of bonding.
Playing coy while waiting for a bath

During Jedi’s series of confinements, her images haunted my nights. It was pathetic to see her under sedation. Her tongue suffered a big cut due to the misplaced muzzle by careless caretakers. But behind the physical pains, affection was always evident in her glassy eyes. There is that tendency in pets to reciprocate the affection showered on them regardless of the situation they are in. What compounded my worries was the idea that Jedi may have been the IOU of my redemption from the brink of death during my surgery. Superstition aside, I got a feeling that Jedi, like most dogs, would gladly offer her life just to save mine.

After several days of missing Jedi, the amiable lady vet of Animal House along Jupiter street, broke the sad news. It was finally time for Jedi to return home because she was suffering from a heart ailment and there’s no cure. Jedi was very weak so we had to carry her. But as we entered our house, Jedi’s wagging tail temporarily obliterated the hopelessness in my heart. As I lay her down near the doorway, I gave up all efforts in restraining my tears. Unknown to me, my husband had made a last ditch effort by contacting another vet in town who, just over the phone, immediately proclaimed that the dreaded distemper caused Jedi’s loss of strength and photophobia (blindness to light).
Enjoying the new year joyride on Jan. 1, 2007

I used to wonder why there are people who treat their pets like their own kids. Now I know because I have been keeping a sort of diary for Jedi containing her medical records, pictures, old collars, shed hair and baby fangs. Jedi was born on the Easter Sunday of 1997 to an askal (unknown mixed breed) mother courtesy of an anonymous father. When my husband got her from my sister-in-law, the commercial of the Star Wars trilogy reissue was playing on the car’s radio. It was a coincidence that my husband was thinking of a name for the puppy that time.

Hopefully Jedi will be with us for a longer time. And I guess she would because she is enjoying our final covenant – an unconditional permit to sleep with us in our airconditioned bedroom.
Jedi's birthday in 2007

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Thursday, January 8, 2009


Narrated by Epoy, Tisoy and Twinkle

Epoy: The holiday season is really hectic for us especially with the deafening sound of firecrackers which my ears couldn’t handle. I just stayed in the bedroom since the day before Christmas up to the coming of the new year. Whew, I was nearly traumatized by the acoustical torture.

Tisoy: As for me, hindi po ako takot sa putok. During the new year’s eve nga po ay nasa terrace lang ako at pinapanood ko sa paglusis sina Ninang, Ninong at Mommy ko. Of course, nagugulat din ako sa putok pero hindi talaga ako natatakot. Mabuti nga at umulan kaya hindi gaano ang ingay.

Twinkle: Pasko, konti lang ang bisita. Pero noong December 30, aba, maraming tao dahil may palaro raw sina Ninong sa mga bata. Eh naiistorbo naman ako dahil nasa tapat ng toilet sa second floor ang pugad ko. At ang ibang bisita, naku, ang te-arts, ha? Doon pa sa upper toilet gustong mag-cr. Sige, nainis na ko kaya hinabol ko sila, hihihi. Unang biktima ko yung niece ni Ninang. Susunod na biktima ko yung cousin ni Ninong na talagang nagtitili sa takot sa pagtuka ko, hahaha.

Epoy: As per our tradition, we visited Mamu for our new year joyride. Mamu is Ninang’s mother. After lunch, we proceeded to Tagaytay. Oh, my, plenty of vehicles and the road to Picnic Grove was really jampacked so we detoured back to the rotunda. How about Caleruega? That’s a monastery by the highway going to Nasugbu, Batangas. Caleruega is like a park with a church on the hilltop.
With Ninang by the Caleruega roadside parking

Tisoy: Pagpasok sa Caleruega, aba, nag-cr kaagad sina Mommy kaya ako… nag-cr na rin sa damuhan, hehehe. Maginaw po, naku, nanginginig ang buntot ko pag humahangin. Buti si Kuya Epoy laging karga ni Ninang pero ako nakatali at hatak ni Mommy ko. Pumunta pa nga kami sa hanging bridge. Ayun, medyo natakot ako dun. Tapos nagsimba kami. Bilib sila dahil behaved ako sa church.
Karga ako ni Mommy sa tapat ng Caleruega church

Twinkle: Hindi ako kasama sa Tagaytay, huhuhu, bantay bahay ako laban sa akyat bahay.

Epoy: On our way home, there were fireworks coming from Pagcor, Tagaytay. Neat, nice to see. I wasn’t afraid because we were just inside the car and I was carried by Ninang. There was a little traffic so we stopped by Max’s for dinner. The wind was punishing and worse, it was sprinkling, brrr.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009


This article was first published in Animal Scene, Sept 2008
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By Ninong Alex

Is there a caregiver for sick pets?

This idea came to my mind when an officemate of my wife gave us a pure-bred pekingese. Very cute at two months old, the energetic puppy was an instant hit in our home. But before we could even think of a name for it, our newly-acquired pet exhibited a seizure. Gasping for air, the puppy’s two big round eyes were wet with tears and its face was seeking succor with the continuous spasm of its abdomen.

We really thought it was the end until, in a stroke of luck, our maid had the mind to place the fawn-colored puppy in front of a running electric fan. In a matter of seconds, the seizure subsided. With that heroism, we officially declared our maid as the adoptive mother of Bulilit.

The next day, I had the fancy of taking our lamb-looking pet for a car ride. Placed in a small basin on the car’s floor, my diminutive companion seemed to be getting the feel of the car’s movement but before we could leave our subdivision’s gate, Bulilit exhibited another seizure.

Epoy at two months old.

My wife called up a friend for advice. The veteran dog breeder, however, made a grim pronouncement that the seizures would be more severe as time goes on and that Bulilit is lucky if it would live for a month.

Placed inside a milk carton, my wife and I watched Bulilit sleep fitfully with the comfort of the electric fan. And that second night proved to be the turning point in the puppy’s fragile life when my wife suggested to make Bulilit our nocturnal boarder. Amid my strong refusal to the idea, I couldn’t say no because I also want the puppy’s remaining days to be comfortable at the very least. That was the night that Bulilit started to sleep inside our airconditioned bedroom. And that was also the night that I felt genuine compassion for our miniature pet (hence the change in pronoun).

For the convenience of Bulilit, I bought a cage on the following day. It was actually a portable pen for fighting cocks, the one with slender green bars woven like a big cyclone mesh. After encasing it with a soft nylon screen on all sides, the cage would serve as Bulilit’s crib in the days to come. Unlike a real dog kennel, our special cage is airy, spacious and light in weight. However, the last factor proved a disadvantage after a few weeks because Bulilit would carry his kennel anywhere in the house.

Epoy with Ate Jedi and Ninang Corie

So as not to destabilize the emotional well-being of our 5-year old askal (*Jedi – our beloved askal was featured in the June 2008 issue of Animal Scene Magazine) my wife also had her join us in our bedroom at night. We were conscious of the divided attention and we also feared for the askal’s jealousy.

As protection for droppings, old newspaper served as flooring of the special cage. And small as he was, Bulilit was so smart as to learn good toilet manners in just two days. The vibrant puppy would bark or would become ambivalent whenever nature calls. But the old newspapers remained for a time as part of the acclimatization period.

Before the first week was over, I was awakened at midnight to the sound of shuffling papers. Still drowsy, I thought someone was reading the newspaper. It didn’t occur to me that I was about to witness an inconceivable scene. Jedi was near the cage, staring intently at the two pieces of torn newspaper while Bulilit was in the act of tearing a third one. Successfully producing another cigar-like piece of paper, Bulilit carefully inserted it under his cage as if offering it to Jedi. Little did we know that there was already a bonding between the two.

Due to the regular seizures, which we thought was epilepsy, Bulilit was officially renamed Epi. But it didn’t take long for Epi to become Epoy. And Epoy’s adoptive mother suddenly realized that the seizures only manifested at around noon time when the summer heat was most terrible. And so it was the heat that was causing the seizures. Our amateur prognosis was professionally confirmed by our vet. As a bonus, the vet said that the puppy will outgrow the seizures in no time at all.

Epoy was so endeared to us such that he had elicited so many pet names. His adoptive mother calls him Yoyoy, sometimes Yoyong or Yongyong, at other times Yoyok or Epyok or even Poyok or Poyong. My wife calls him Poypoy or Popoy. The kids still call him Bulilit but sometimes Pyong-pyong or Prum-prum. It seems that I’m the only one who calls him Epoy because even our vet calls him Empoy.

Aside from the seizures, another fear factor was that our askal may hurt the pekingese by accident (Jedi hadn’t shown any offensive stance though). We took great care in putting a demarcation line to separate the two dogs.

But one time we were surprised to see Jedi and Epoy both sitting by the doorstep like bosom buddies enjoying the fresh air while watching the street for passersby. We really didn’t know how that scenario came to be until Epoy made another daring escape in front of our disbelieving eyes. The intelligent puppy pushed the lightweight kennel near the step to the kitchen and after seeing a gap on the floor, Epoy slithered his body down on the kitchen floor then ran back up the living room to join his hesitant playmate. That was the time we attached soap containers to Epoy’s portable kennel in order to restrict the movement somehow.

Epoy at 2 months old with his adoptive mom

Understanding that Epoy is a lapdog, we always bear in mind that unlike Jedi, who is an askal, Epoy couldn’t use a collar. And his only place, aside from the parquet of the bedroom, was the clean concrete or anybody’s lap unless otherwise he was answering the call of nature. And he may be the only dog who gets a washing after urinating or defecating. Talk of motherly love.

And it came to pass that Epoy had shed off whatever it is that was bothering him. We now clearly understand that sheer excitement or stress coupled with unbearable heat could cause the seizure. In his regular car rides, Epoy would take the front seat beside me with the aircon vents directed at him. And if my wife was with us, Epoy would be on her lap. Of course, he had ceased using his kennel after his first birthday.

Before Epoy’s 5th birthday last June, sad news greeted us on the driveway. There was a trace of fresh blood in his urine. The high creatinine in the lab test results pointed to kidney problems. And making matters worse, there was our dog breeder friend again with his grim prognosis that Epoy would not last a month.

Epoy on his 5th birthday on June 4, 2008

Fortunately, the doomsayer was wrong again. Epoy’s condition turned for the better with the prescription diet. The vet admonished that table food is too salty for dogs. And as a complement to the salt-less diet, we are giving Epoy a daily dose of banaba and sambong tea to facilitate better circulation of fluid in the kidney. After just a week of intensive nursing, Epoy was back to his ebullient self.

A real smart dog, Epoy knows if I was off to the office because he would just give me a cold stare. But if I was just on an errand, he would run after me on my way to the garage. We surmised that Epoy could discern what type of clothes I am wearing. And, yes, he is addicted to car rides.

Even with my inborn lethargy in mornings, I don’t mind giving Epoy a regular back scratching when he wakes me up. His soft barks in the early hours serve as the adrenaline for me and my wife. The little dog with a big role in our life, that’s Bulilit.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

GREETINGS to pet lovers

Epoy, the Pekingese and Jedi, the Askal

Created on this lovely day of January 6, 2009, this blog is dedicated to OUR PETS and to all other pets and, of course, pet lovers as well. Kindly post your relevant comments and keep on coming back to read new postings.


Tisoy, our mischievous spitz-pomeranian

Twinkle, our mysterious rock pigeon

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