Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Patience

When I was four, I witnessed something quite horrible, though at that time it seemed curious as well.

I know that in these YouTube days, horror mingled with curiosity are quite pedestrian, there's someone posting a horrifying video that you can't take your eyes off right this minute. But in those days, the mixture of horror and curiosity was something you can only experience first-hand.

Let me step back a bit and paint you a picture of that beautiful early summer, in my hometown in the Philippines. The temperature was mild and sunny almost every day. In a month, the sun will turn treacherous and burn your skin in a minute, but right then, it was just perfect. You could run around for days and not break out in a sweat.

Our dog, Patience--Pasensiya in Tagalog, was pregnant. Patience was a mutt, with creamy short hair. Her face and legs were often caked in mud, as if she just came from nosing around somewhere in the garden.

You know how all your pets in your childhood seemed larger than any animals later in your life? Patience was like that for me when I was four. When I hugged her, she filled my arms. Her head was the size of my head. When she licked me with her warm, wet tongue, it felt like the little washcloth they give you in Japanese restaurants to wipe your hands (although I like to wipe my face in it too because it is so refreshing).

When I sit back and think about it now, rationally, she must've been just an average dog, maybe even on the small side. Even in the few seconds of this rational thinking, my memories have been altered, split into two parallel universes; Patience's bigness/smallness now co-exist in my mind. It's a bit jarring, like fun house mirrors.

Patience was lean, as most dogs were in the Philippines, as she was fed only rice and scraps, whatever she can manage from under the table. My two cats these days are spoiled gluttons compared all the pets I had in my youth. Patience's leanness only emphasized the size of her pregnancy. When I touched the skin on her gravid stomach, it felt tight, hot.

It must be said that I didn't really understand that Patience was pregnant. I'm sure somebody explained it to me, but even then, so what? Even though my vocabulary was expanding by the minute, comprehension was limited to things my child's mind was occupied with. Some words only strike a hollow fear: 'Death,' 'Divorce,' 'Donnie Osmond,' they didn't hold any true meaning.

I remember up until the day Patience was to give birth, she was playful and exuberant. I don't know if this was the case with most pregnant dogs; Patience was the only pregnant animal that I had ever been in close contact with. That made her disappearance so odd.

I looked for her all around the house, looking under couches and behind shrubs. I found my brother's chewed up plastic truck--but no dog.

I went to my mother then, who was sewing something, maybe another pair of pajamas pants. My siblings and I wore them all day in those days. She helped me look.

Eventually we found Patience in the garage. She was hiding in a corner behind a old spare tire, lying on her side, panting. She looked at us disinterestedly, saving her energy.

My mother said, "Patience is about to have babies, it looks like."

I was excited, even though I didn't know what to expect. We stood looking on for a few minutes. But then suddenly, it started.

Swoosh! Out came a little fleshy thing, then another, and another. And swoosh! Two more! But the little things didn't look like a dog, or a puppy or anything like Patience. The little things looked like fleshy Vietnamese spring rolls. They were were small, pink and translucent; they didn't move.

After the last one came out, Patience stood up and smelled the little spring rolls and then, to my horror, ate them all up. She wolfed them down, each with a single bite.

I was stunned, but also totally mesmerized and confused. I asked my Mom if Patience took a shit and ate them, she's done that before. I backed away just in case Patience wanted to lick me.

Mom explained that Patience must've sensed something wrong with her pups.

I was skeptical, I thought maybe she was just hungry and just not very discerning. Shit, food, little fleshy spring rolls--it's all the same to her. It made me kinda grossed out.

Thinking back, if I hadn't been standing there, I would've missed it. I wouldn't have known that Patience given birth to stillborn pups. I probably would've thought that she just lost weight or something. I probably wouldn't have noticed even that.

But god, when I think about it now, I really, really wish that I could've YouTube'd that.


When I was about seven, Patience died. Then we ate her. Part of her will always be with me. But there was a part of her that was gone forever, the next day, after I took a dump.



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Other pet posts:

Morning Routine - A surprise greets me at lunch for my haste getting ready for work.

Confessions of a Broken Cat - A feline emergency in 3 parts. Drama guaranteed.

Meeting The Family - It was an inauspicious beginning: Rusty knocks me down when I first meet my BF's family.
Bite Your Tongue - Mythbusting. Do dogs bite their tongues? Find out.

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