If you follow me on Instagram, you must have noticed my feed having mostly Stories of dogs. That’s because ours is a big dog family of now nine: Luna, Levi, Luke, Lucy, Sophie, Julia, Lily, Denver and Oggy. Not only have they become a part of our family – no leash, uncaged and free roaming our home; we love and adore them like our own kids – they’ve become a major part of my daily routine.
Every single morning in the early hours, sometimes even before the alarm strikes 4am, I’d drag myself out of bed to open our bedroom door, so the banging and scratching would stop. Sometimes we just leave our door open, later either Sophie, Levi or Lucy would hop on the bed and cuddle. The gang of Denver, Oggy, Julia and Lily won’t be far behind, sniffing whatever being the curious younglings. Downstairs, Luke would bark nonstop as if crying “Hey, we’re your kids too!” with Luna who’s her usual timid self, too bad both can’t climb the stairs. So I’m left with no choice but to wake myself up, pick up poop, mop the pee off the floor, ask them puppers to go back to sleep, make coffee. Then off to work I go.
There will be random mornings of disaster. I’d wake up in weird silence, no banging on the door and all seem to be fast asleep, except there’s a trail of rolled tissue on the floor or a mismatched pair of socks scattered on the stairs or toiletries that have been played with. I’d usually catch Sophie and the puppies in the crime scene and they’d ignore when I ask who did it. My wife and I would just clean up and laugh about it.
I will then look forward to getting home at night. As soon as the car inches near our house, not even parked, a chorus of loud barks can be heard, as if proclaiming “Daddy’s here!” I would slowly open the door, greeted by a bunch of excited puppers all jumping toward me, waiting to be picked up, kissed and cuddled. Happens every time, and all the day’s stress is gone. After dinner, they’d tout me to the kitchen for treats, they will then line up for equal shares of pizza-sliced fluffy mamon or peanut butter cookies cracked to small bites with the filling removed. That’s their queue that the day’s done and sleep is in order. One or two of them would sneak in the bedroom as I prepare to go to bed, I’d shoo them out, close the door, only to let them back in when the scratching on the door becomes unbearable.
On weekends when I have no work, I give each of our dog a bath, as in spa-like treatment – heated water on the tub, fragrant and medicated shampoos, towel dry, with the hairdryer, brushing and untangling the coat, and finally a gentle massage. Once done I’m all wet and my allergic rhinitis is triggered. But that’s OK, a small sacrifice to see our dogs just like coming out from the groomer.
And you’d think they’re all cute and nice and all going along like a happy bunch. There are of course fights and bites, and sometimes they’re becoming more frequent and nasty that would end up one or two getting hurt. So we try to keep the peace by separating them. And warn our house guests, especially kids, that we have dogs and that while they’re lovely they won’t hesitate to bite. Why I made sure each has complete vaccination.
With all these you’d sure call me a dog person. The truth is, I used to not like dogs. I was terrified of dogs actually that I thought I developed a phobia, what with the horrific memory of getting bitten when I was a kid, remedied only with a clove of pressed garlic. Thankfully I survived, perhaps my nightly prayers worked, that Whitey, who brutally attacked me and left my leg swollen for about a week, was free of rabies and won’t die on me. From then on, I didn’t want to be near any dog. I decided I’d pet any except dogs.
But that all changed when we had our first Shih Tzu, we called him Jake (yes, named after that Adventure Time character), but sadly he crossed the rainbow bridge already and is terribly missed by the family he’s almost always mentioned, especially since his last puppy Julia looked a lot like him.
Photos of them here are actually just some of the few, so please bear with me if you see more of my dog fam. I’m sure lucky and happy to have them. I thought I was training them, thinking of myself as the alpha, but it was the other way around – they taught me to be more caring, selfless, and understanding.