In the Philippines, only the middle class have pet dogs.

Usually dogs here are for protection, and they are fed but not treated as a member of the family. We have five: Three large watch dogs, and two small white pets.

Dogs here are traditionally fed left over rice, with a little soup to flavor it, and any left over scraps. In the farms, they hunt their own meat: usually rodents or birds. We live in town, so we buy dog food to mix with the rice.

Here, you don’t take in stray dogs: they are thin and mangey, and often there is a danger of rabies. And yes, I feel sorry for them, but I worry more about poor people…

PETA may demonstrate about not eating meat and insist we care for “animal companions” as if they were members of our family, but I have no patience with the “animal lovers” who lament the animals but ignore the street kids and families sleeping underneath the bridges or in shanties.

The secret about Asia is that poor folk have been known to eat dogs. There is a terrible custom to have a dog in a cage to fatten for feasts which I have seen in the yards of some “middle class” folks. But the reality is that poor folks with too many puppies or with a dog that has to be “put away” for bad behavior will probably eat them. Why waste meat. And if you are shocked, well, go talk to your local ASPCA about the large numbers of dogs destroyed each year in the US, mainly because their “families” couldn’t be bothered to care for them…

After living in the US for forty years, my husband Lolo treats his dogs with affection: caring for their wounds (as a retired doctor, he rarely treats humans, but still sutures up our pets).

We make sure they are fed, and even let two of them sleep under our bed at night.  His favorite dog is Blackie, who has a withered leg after being run over by a jeep one morning when we went jogging. And although we had her “fixed”, she has puppies once a year, which we raise by hand.

Being raised by a friendly hand makes all the difference: most visitors are afraid of our dogs, but are amazed that they obey us and are so friendly to our family; so usually our puppies are easily placed as house pets/guard dogs.

One of the puppies that we raised was Spot. We think Blackie got out and mated with a nearby Dalmatian, because although his face is black, the rest of him is white with small black spots, just like his father. He lives on our organic vegetable farm, guarding the equipment and  hot house where we raise seedlings. He’s too friendly to be a good watch dog: Unlike his sister Bruno, he hasn’t scared off any theives, but on the other hand he hasn’t bitten any visitors either (which is how his sister got her name Bruno).

Last week, Lolo noticed Spot had mange, so brought him home to see the Vet. She treated him, but we decided to keep him at the house overnight. As a farm dog, this meant he slept outside, with the guard dog.Whoops. Big problem: dogfight:  our killer lab George tried to maul him.Well, we have two yards,  so we put him in the second yard, with the two pets, for the night. No problem, we thought, since the pet dogs are a females her small puppy.Big mistake number two. In the middle of the night, one of our help went into the garden for a smoke, and the mama dog, probably worried he would harm her puppy,  ran him off.I ran out when I heard the attack,figuring he might be attacking the puppie. But it was too late. No Spot, and an angry small white dog and puppy coming back from chasing him down the street into the nearby field and beyond.Later in the morning, we all looked, and no dog. Lolo went around twice in tricycles looking for him near the river. No dog. Lolo even went outside looking for him during the night when he heard a dog crying. My husband was feeling very bad that the dog probably would end up dying of hunger or from being mauled, and it was his fault for bringing him into town to see the vet.

I prayed to St. Anthony, the patron of lost things and who loved animals, please help us find our dog, for Lolo’s sake.So last night, the help came in from the farm and told us: Spot had arrived at the farm, five miles away, after three days. He is in good shape, and just as dumb as ever.Now, tell me how he found his way five miles across country to our farm? I had heard of such things, but never knew a lost pet to travel so far.Anyway, thanks to God (and St Anthony) for helping the dumb dog to find his way home.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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