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The Dog That Followed Me Home

It was one of those days when you wake up feeling that life’s passing you by, and try as you might, you just have no control over it. I’d turned 30 a few weeks back, and it seemed like my dreams had been put on hold indefinitely and there’s no telling when they’d ever come to pass. Instead of sulking in my room, I decided to be proactive about it. To shake off the blues, I called up a friend to invite her to jog in UP. As it turned out, she had an early appointment that day. Undeterred, I put on my jogging outfit and bounded outdoors to face the morning sun. It was a beautiful day. Everything seemed bright, fresh and new.

 

Everything except my attitude, that is.After a brief chat with my neighbor, I pounded the pavement to walk off my frustrations, exhaling and inhaling deeply as I went. I was so determined to squeeze out every inch of angst from my system that I ended up walking past my usual route, and found myself several meters outside the village. Almost out of breath and sweating profusely, I stopped in front of an old church, where a dog trainer was patiently coaching a golden retriever. Fascinated, I watched them as they went through their routine.

I’d wanted to have a dog for as long as I could remember. In fact, the first short story I’d ever thought of writing as a child involved a momma dog and her puppies. Five years ago, my uncle gave us a baby Shih Tzu. He was a fuzzy fur-ball of a puppy, his coat a swirl of vanilla, mocha and chocolate. He looked so delicious that I named him Mico, short for Milk Chocolate. Mico was a sweetheart. Everybody loved him. And he responded by following everyone around the house, wagging his cute little tail as he went along. Two weeks after we had him, I went home with an aunt and proudly told her about my new puppy. When the maid opened the door, I asked her to get Mico so that I could introduce him to our visitor. I could never forget the look on her face as she told me that Mico died that afternoon. It turned out that Mico, being the darling that he was, ran after our driver as he was going to the garage. Our driver didn’t know that the puppy was in harm’s way when he backed the car. I didn’t even get a chance to take his picture or say goodbye.

Several months later, my generous uncle gifted us with two more dogs, this time a pair of powder-white Shih Tzus that my sister and I named Cookie and Cream. Originally, we named them Salt and Pepper, but we figured that the names didn’t suit them at all. Cookie and Cream looked so alike that it was hard to tell them apart. To make sure they were safe, our maids put them inside a cemented cage beside our garage. They only got out when we played with them. Our idea backfired. A few months later, Cookie and Cream became ill and had to be rushed to the vet. They had contracted pneumonia. I think the cold cement floors did them in. After staying in the vet for a few days, Cookie was put to sleep and Cream followed soon after. I’d never let a dog into my heart since.

That’s why I felt a little silly asking the dog trainer for a calling card. Maybe, I would get assigned to do a story about dog trainers someday and this information would come in handy. I trekked to our village with that calling card in hand. Half-way back, I felt my dark mood lifting. It must be the endorphins kicking in. I started thanking God for my life, despite the stops and stalls and seemingly endless wait. I reasoned that Jesus was a nobody until he turned 30 and that He was single all His life, until he died on the cross and resurrected at age 33. Just as I was telling God that in my mind, a yellow butterfly fluttered by. Smiling to myself, I turned a corner to reach our street.

It was then that I felt a presence behind me. From the corner of my eye, I saw a black, thin, scraggly dog quietly following my every step. I tried not to mind it, because I heard that dogs attack when they sense fear. Fortunately, a security guard on a motorcycle passed my way. I asked him to scare the dog away and he did. A few seconds after he left, though, the dog tracked me down again and didn’t leave my side. Then, it hit me. Maybe this dog was sent to minister to me.

I slowed down, let the scrawny dog get past me and watched for his reaction. To my surprise, he stopped, looked back at me with those soulful brown eyes, and waited for me to keep pace. When I tried walking faster, it ran to catch up with me. My fear of being attacked by a rabid dog vanished that moment. I wanted to pat this thoughtful dog on his smelly head, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it (Ayoko magkagalis!), so I just smiled my sweetest smile at him, hoping he’d sensed my gratitude. Just then, I noticed that a man who was washing a car outside his house was staring at me, wondering what in the world I was thinking grinning at a dog. Oops!

When I reached my house, I decided to go past it, not wanting to part from his company. Not just yet. We walked together two more blocks, before entering a basketball court. People who saw us together asked if he was my pet. I told them that the dog just followed me. At the court, I watched a man and a woman play ball, with the dog sitting close beside me. I lingered for a moment, capturing the image of this sweet mongrel and me in my mind. Looking at his scrawny and blistered body, I figured that he had received rejection all his life. Yet, in spite of that, he didn’t hesitate to reach out to me. What touched me was the fact that this mutt must have never received love and acceptance in his life, but he went out of his way to make me feel wanted and cared for.

The faithful dog followed me until it was time to go home. As a reward, I served him a hearty breakfast of chicken and rice, which he devoured in a matter of minutes. Then, he was gone. A few days later, I set out in my jogging suit to look for him, but I didn’t see him. I’ve never caught sight of him to this day. Has he become Asocena? Did my feeding him cause him to suffer indigestion and die? I’ll never know. Only God knows. But one thing is for sure, he will forever be a reminder to me that God can use anything (and I mean anything!) –even a smelly, old dog– just to communicate His love and concern for His children.

 
The Dog That Followed Me Home
–Jennifer Yap Caspe
Written Nov. 11, 2004
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4 Comments

  1. er…i was that dog…heheh.

  2. great piece!Ü

  3. oh. . . so now I know the name of the dog! Anonymous! Thanks for identifying yourself. Hehehe!

  4. hi jen, galing mo talaga. i love this one. indeed, God works in many wonderful ways. God bless… more articles for you… muwah!

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  1. Amazon Promotional Offer of the Children’s Book The Dog That Followed Me Home! | The Mommy With No Nanny - […] Reader’s Favorite,  is a story that I wrote for my daughter Mishca, based on a touching real-life dog encounter…

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