ELVIS: My Dog and I, May 26, 2002- April 28, 2017

I don’t think there can ever be a tribute that’s befitting enough for a canine companion who has been with one’s family throughout his/ her whole life on earth. So I feel that I can never pay enough respect to Elvis who has sadly gone to doggie heaven this morning (April 28, 2017). He had been with me for all 15 years of his life. He was 105 dog years old as of his passing 🙁

Elvis was a male, short- coat Jack Russell Terrier. I got him months after I had adopted a long- haired and wired female JRT named Kelly back in 2002. Like Kelly, he came to me when he was a 3- month old baby. I had to pick him up in a small hotel in Malate from a breeder who was based in Subic. Like all puppies, he was a really cute wee one. He didn’t adapt so well to his new surroundings when I brought him home. For sure, because he missed his mom or family too, having been separated from them to be with me. Kelly was much older than he was and had already learned to sleep on her own in her little corner. Elvis though, was a clingy little one who would whimper at night. I did not have any children yet that time, so I would take him to my bed and he would sleep on my belly. That was the only way to stop him from whimpering. And he slept well. Once he would be completely asleep, I’d put him on his little basket beside my bed. I was not exactly a “still” sleeper and I worried I might crush him (or drop him off the bed) if he stayed on my belly throughout the night.

I never talked much about my personal (private) life. I share what I want to share, but keep much of what else I do in my life (including members of my family and my children) off social media. Most of you would’ve only heard rumors, mostly crazy over-the-top sensational stories. Most of those concocted by people who seemed to get a seriously sick kick out of feasting on other people’s private troubles. And at times, these people create and embellish stories that are completely unfounded and way off base. Anyway, today I am opening up a bit of my life because this seems to be the only way I could accurately talk about my dog’s time with me. (Edit: I have been told this is too personal a post. True, but up until today, no one has any idea about what I had gone through in the last 15 years the way Elvis had. If he could only talk… But anyway, this is my personal space and I am sharing this story only because all these factors were instrumental to both Elvis’ and my life together. So please save your judgement for something else and just allow me to grieve)

Elvis was my confidante and most loyal friend. He was really there for me and with me through thick and thin. In the course of my 16- year marriage, I had moved houses 6 times. When I had married, my father had fully funded the renovation of a separate wing of the house in my in-law’s place as my husband said he could not afford to live on his own. I agreed to stay with them because my husband was the only child and there was more than enough room for us all to live harmoniously. But months after my father’s death, we were forced to move out of that house mainly because of a political controversy that involved my in-laws. Their business, a financial institution once privately owned but became publicly listed, was severely affected as a result. The house that I had called home with Elvis and Kelly, was suddenly turned over to a politician who had privately amassed such staggering wealth but had continued to publicly live a modest, simple life. This vile man had bullied my father-in-law into turning over his assets to him (because the politician had invested a chunk of his money into the institution that my in-laws ran at the time), assigning private citizens to the properties and assets so that none would be traced back to him. This politician after all, fashioned himself as a hero and defender of the masses. And while I resented the actions of that politician because it had severely affected our lives, I also didn’t blame him because he had only wanted his money which he had deposited into the institution. Oh, you wouldn’t have heard about this in the news. If you did hear about it decades ago, you would’ve probably heard it because of all the rumors that swirled around my in- laws at the time. So we lost the house. All that money my father had spent (it was part of our wedding gift) refurbishing that wing for our new life together, gone down the drain. And that was also the last gift of my father to me before he passed away 🙁

I was already pregnant when we were forced out of our home. I moved back to my mother’s place for the time being and could not take in Elvis and Kelly because I also developed pregnancy asthma, so they had to stay in the house that my in-laws rented. The place my in-laws stayed in wasn’t in the best of conditions because it was a very sudden, almost hasty move. The place was dusty for some reason even after they had it cleaned. I was highly allergic to the place and would wheeze immediately and have difficulty breathing once I set foot into their house. It was a delicate period health-wise as I was carrying my 1st child, so I couldn’t spend much time with my dogs as a result. After the birth of my eldest child, I had to move back into the house with my in-laws again. I had of course wanted to live on our own, but my husband then said he still couldn’t afford to do so. So I had no choice but to stick it out. I’d have wanted to permanently stay in my mother’s house because that felt more like home than living with my in-laws. I did not have it easy living with them. I had originally thought it’d be a breeze because I am generally adaptable to my surroundings and I have always tried to please people (yes that was me then— the people- pleaser. Always tried soooo hard. Not anymore though haha). But unfortunate for us all, there were character differences (which is after all, normal when you have to live together with new people), plus it did not help that they were also under a lot of pressure from all political sides. As a result, it was really a very difficult time to be around them. But as I was a new mother with a fairly new marriage, I was determined to make my things work. I decided to stick it out even if it meant crying myself to sleep. Those years were really a nightmare, one that I had never discussed in public in the manner I am sharing all this now. Because all of this related to Elvis. He was the constant. But with adversity also came the consolation of being reunited with my canine companions and having them grow up with my child/children. So that was perhaps the only positive and happy prospect with which I looked forward. When I was finally reunited with Kelly and Elvis, they had become quite unkempt- looking. So when I moved back, I put them back on a proper diet, and with vet visits their coats were smooth and shiny again. It was a good time to be reunited with them because I was also able to introduce my firstborn child to the two. While Kelly didn’t mind being photographed, I found that Elvis hated the camera. Every time he sees me pointing my camera his way, he would scurry off. So most of my photos of him when he was in his younger years, were blurry! This was one of the rare times he allowed himself to be photographed while wearing a Halloween costume. When we first put it on him, he literally hung his head in shame and would not walk toward me when I called out to him!

Haha, I figured, he was thinking, “yeah why don’t YOU put this on and see if you’ll be walking tall and proud!”.

But then haha again, dear boy you didn’t know your human much, did you? Coz I would’ve been proud to look that silly haha.

Kelly died in that house one night, after a 3rd encounter with a poisonous frog. This was not the 1st time she got into trouble with toads. We were already in bed at the time when I heard a loud shrill of a bark, and I ran outside to find Kelly lying on her side, foaming at the mouth. She died in my arms… That was another very traumatic time for me. Kelly was more the hunter and scavenger than Elvis was, preferring nature— the earth and the gardens over the cool, concrete pavement. Elvis was inconsolable for days. He hardly ate and was always going over where Kelly had been buried and spending a considerable amount of time in that area. Those two had been thick as thieves during their short time together.

Things unfortunately got quite bad on the home front with my in-laws after my bout with food poisoning, and I decided for my sanity that it was best to move out and finally live on our own. I had to take matters into my own hands and do something about my situation. Call me selfish, but I didn’t want to be emotionally miserable for the rest of my life. I remembered one of the many things my father had said to me while he was still alive— he said that our fate was always in our own hands. We have the capability of altering the path that was “chosen” for us (as they say, “written in the stars”). So I was also sure this was not what God or the universe would have wanted for each and every one of us, especially if we do have a choice which we all do. It was all about taking that leap of faith. I also did not want to harp and cry endlessly to my family and close friends (they were getting tired of hearing me talk about the same thing over and over, and I was like this dark cloud looming above them each time I was with them) and still not do anything about my predicament. I was trained to be a doer, not a complainer, a blamer, or procrastinator. So I took it upon myself to look around for other accommodations and soon found a place to stay close to my in- laws. I’d rather move to a different continent… like Europe, but haha it wasn’t gonna work out that way. Because 1. my husband then had no choice, he worked for his family and had never held a job outside of it, 2. I wanted to be close to my family, 3. what about Elvis, 4. I didn’t want to be accused of deliberately depriving my in- laws of their grandchild. It was definitely a drain on my personal finances then as I had to cough up a handsome sum for that location proximity, but I signed on the dotted line and had a one year contract to live in a newly renovated, light, and airy place that was close to everything. I was really fortunate with my landlady who understood and commiserated with my “situation” and she had been very accommodating. But I couldn’t bring Elvis to live with me there. That was the only condition of the lease 🙁 So for the next 2 years of my life, I gave birth to my 2nd child and would pay visits to Elvis and walk him around.

When I was about to sign the lease on my rented place for the 3rd year, my side of the family stepped in and offered me a place to stay. It was only much later that they knew I was the one paying for the rent because I didn’t want them to know. The last thing I wanted to be was a burden to my family, so I never told them about it, choosing instead to just work hard and start a business to have a recurring, steady income that could foot our expenses. Anyway, my brother had vacated his house to move to another area and offered his place, rent- free! My family had wanted to help us (haha they took pity on meee lol) so that my then husband and I could finally move into a place that did not put a further dent on our finances. So you see now why I can’t keep thanking my family enough? Because they have always pulled all stops for me and have always without hesitation stepped in to help us.

For the next seven to eight years, I lived a good life in the house that was lent to us by my family. My “career” started to take off that time, so the situation was really looking up. My kids were growing up with Elvis around them. Elvis was very naughty, but he was really such a good dog. He was always patrolling the house and made sure no cats would come close to his territory. I don’t think I should be proud of what he did here, but I might as well share it. He was so hell- bent on protecting his turf that he even got into several brawls with the neighborhood stray cats! He had actually killed one and had proudly presented it to us as a prize! Shock. And another time he got into a brawl, he had scratches and wounds all over his face and feet and had to wear a cone of shame to allow them to heal!

When I would walk Elvis around the neighborhood, it actually looked embarrassing because he was the one walking me and not the other way around LOL. He had also strayed (and had gotten lost) from our property twice. The last time it happened, I was beside myself! We later found him in one of the building’s security office! He sneaked out for a walk after I had forgotten to close our house gates. And somewhere along that walk, he found those same stray cats and had ran after them LOL. And then he probably couldn’t found his way back home. He walked quite far too and ended up being picked up by security in one of the neighboring buildings! The security on duty at the time said that Elvis was a very friendly dog and didn’t hesitate going with them when they asked him to come. I thought I had really lost him then! I was so glad he didn’t get run over by a car!!

Throughout our stay in that house, we had adopted more pets— one was a green parrot named Coco, an Easter bunny named Bunny (hey, my kids were very creative haha) that grew so big (he looked like a cat LOL) over the years, and the other were 7 Easter chicks that also grew into chickens over time. Elvis didn’t like the company though haha. He would’ve preferred he was the only pet in the whole household. My parrot Coco would squawk at Elvis a lot and mumble funny words (Coco learned how to speak and was very talkative) and irk him, but he was the boss of the chickens. They were deathly afraid of him so we kept him away. Having chicks was actually hilarious because while their chirping was manageable in terms of noise, they eventually grew into chickens— all 7 of them, and they began to cock-a-doodle-doo at 5:00 am daily and without fail, in unison! It was so funny because the chickens would roam around freely in the garden during the day but would stay in Elvis’ big cage a.k.a. chicken coop (which he never even slept in or used because he slept indoors) at night. And we had to keep moving the cage around at night because we were afraid the neighbors would complain of the noise the next day. We were also not allowed to raise livestock where we lived hahaha. I think for weeks, the neighbors and security attempted to triangulate where those chickens, now roosters, that crowed were staying. Location was finally revealed when security came knocking at our door. But by that time, I had already told our household staff to give away the chickens (or haha, they didn’t give them away, they turned them into chicken soup—ewww) and all that were left of the lot were 2, whom we named Chuck and Hercules (pronounced hair-ko-less LOL).

And then, typhoon Ondoy happened. In the early morning, we were so worried because the chickens might have died overnight. So our staff had checked on the chicken coop and panicked. The door had been swinging wildly in the wind, and the chickens were no longer inside. Where were the chickens?? In our living room, we had a large picture window that overlooked the garden and pool area, and the 2 chickens were there. With Elvis! What was more surprising was, they were moving around harmoniously!

But when Elvis saw me staring at this little dynamic, he immediately ran after the chickens again! It was really hilarious! So were they stringing us all along? LOL ahh when I remember that incident, it still leaves me scratching my head in wonder…

We had a large rodent come into our house one time, and that really freaked everyone out. That rodent came from outside, as it was rainy season, and somehow found its way into our house! It was a very restless time because we all wanted to hunt it down. Elvis again to the rescue. He wouldn’t rest until he caught the troublesome rodent! He ran after the rat that sprinted from one room to another. The rat settled into the guest room, and hid behind one of the toy chests of my kids! He smoked it out and bit it and ran straight for our main door, waiting for us to let him out. He killed the rat outside before bringing it back dead and then leaving it proudly right on steps of our front door, like a prize or offering.

On another occasion, when my kids were learning to swim as they were taking swimming lessons from Teacher Ria, they would often practice swimming in our pool. They eventually became confident swimmers and can handle the pool on their own. We still had a watchful eye over them, but I had my eye on them while inside the house—in that same living room with the picture window. The kids would be playing with water pistols and be splashing about and squealing in delight during the hot summer days. But this day was different. Elvis happened to be in the garden by the pool area with them. Elvis was barking wildly and circling the pool area like a mad dog. I was wondering what the commotion was all about. The kids were ok, laughing, squealing, splashing water at each other. But Elvis wasn’t OK. And then it happened—Elvis jumped into the pool, causing my kids to call me. When I looked at them, Elvis was swimming towards them, as if trying to save my kid who was on the deeper end of the pool! OMG. Elvis thought one of the kids was drowning! He jumped in to try and drag one of them back into the shallow end!!

We moved again for a 6th time in this house that I now live in and Elvis happily came along as well. By this time though, he was already becoming older and did not have as much energy chasing cats and rats like he used to. He used to love taking walks within our area, but in recent months had already gotten too tired for those long walks. In the last months of his life, he spent it sleeping in during afternoons, and if I was home, he would hang out with me, get comfy by my side, and then take his nap. So he unknowingly starred in my Instagram Stories!

As of our last doctor’s check- up, we were told that he has an enlarged heart, and will eventually have difficulty breathing, and that might be the cause of his death. I thought I had already accepted his fate. Or at least I was opening up to that idea of eventually losing him.

Last night, as I came home from my childhood friend’s birthday dinner, I spent time with Elvis as he tried to go back to sleep. I gave him his usual head massage and back rubs as I always had. I watched him fall asleep and noticed his labored breaths. I said a silent prayer for him, and then whispered to him how grateful I was to have had him in my life, how sorry I was that I was not always with him, that I didn’t give him a better life, and how much I loved him because he had so much love to give me. He was always there for me when I was sad. He was my confidante. He would always stare at me as he sat beside me during those troubled times when I sat in the dark, silently sobbing while talking about my problems. Elvis taught me how to be patient, how to be accepting, how to love without conditions, how to adapt, and how to forgive. My difficult past has passed long ago and while I don’t like looking back at it, I had to relive it today because Elvis was my constant through it all. This was perhaps the only way I could accurately depict how intertwined our lives were. I have long ago learned to let that part of my life go and really hated having to rehash it now because everything in my life is already going so well. Until Elvis’ passing.

I am deeply saddened to have lost him this morning. But it was a swift death, and he didn’t suffer. He was anxiously prancing around this morning after he awoke and while in the kitchen, he decided to lie down and close his eyes. In the last week, he had been having mini seizures but was always back up on his feet again. This time though, he seized for a few seconds, then took his last breath.

I was glad to have spent those last moments with him last night. But am also so incredibly saddened to realize that those would be my last 🙁

Rest in peace, Elvis. You are with my Daddy (whose death anniversary is on May 1), and with Kelly, Coco, Bunny, and the chickens now. I will always love you. Thank you for enriching my life, and the life of my family. I am forever grateful…

I love you always, my baby boy and dear friend…

May 26, 2002 to April 28, 2017

Your Human
also known as The Bag Hag

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