I used to detest these four-legged creatures called “man’s best friend.” Back when I was little and our dog got ran over by a car and tears flowed down my mom’s cheeks, I asked, “Why cry over an animal?”
That was 28 years ago. Now, the sun doesn’t set before I bend down to cuddle, talk to and smother with hugs our Labrador Retrievers.
It started in August 6, 2012. That’s when our first dog arrived. It was the Opening Day of the London Olympics — and so we named him “Bolt,” after the speediest man on earth, Usain Bolt.
At three months old and color brown, Bolt injected a bolt of puppy love into our home. After each schoolday, our then 13-year-old daughter Jana — who was the culprit in convincing us to transplant this hairy creature into our lives — would cuddle and embrace Bolt.
For six years until 2018, Bolt remained our only pet. We’d often play games with him. His favorite: throwing the tennis ball up high as he jumps, in full acrobatic midair (with legs sideways) mode, to catch the yellow orb. Then we’d reward him with his all-time favorite snack: bananas. Bolt loves bananas. His tail would wag and he’d stick out his wet tongue before we say “Sit!” and he’d relax and wait to devour the yellow slices.
Two years ago, we decided to find Bolt a girlfriend. We bought a yellow Lab from a breeder in Subic. But when “Mango” arrived by her lonesome inside a cage via a Clark-Cebu flight, she was in distress, shaking. She had parvovirus and did not last more than a week. It was a sad day. (Lesson learned: never again buy a puppy online — despite those irrestible Facebook photos.)
Jojo Oquias, my neighbor, came to the rescue. His Labrador Retriever (Whitney) just gave birth. When Jana came home from Manila for a short break and we visited the two-month-old puppies, we were smitten.
We decided to get two female Labs: Bean (color black) and Butter (yellow). (An interesting sidenote: the name of Bean’s dad is Kobe. And when you research the full name of the late NBA superstar, it’s “Kobe Bean” Bryant. We didn’t plan this but realized it later.)
When the girls arrived in late 2018, Bolt went berserk. After six years as a lone ranger, Bolt inherited two lovely girlfriends. And so, the inevitable happened: six months later, Butter got pregnant.
Sixty five days after — last November — my wife Jasmin and I arrived home just in time (5 p.m.) to assist in Butter’s giving birth to five healthy puppies. Jana was in Ateneo de Manila then and, thanks to Viber, her OB-Gyn parents livestreamed the occasion.
Early this year (when they turned three months), we gave away four puppies: to my dad Bunny (Sky, yellow male), Ariel Uy (Bailey, yellow female), James Co (Brenda, yellow female) and Dr. Ronnie Medalle (Ashe, black male).
Before the puppies were born, Jana wished that one of them would be a brown female. Her wish came true and we kept one puppy and named her Burger.