Canine Affection

Last Call

Saturnino P. Javier, MD. FPCP. FPCC. FACC

Dr. Saturnino P. Javier is an interventional cardiologist at Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital and Medical Center. He is a past president of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) and past editor of PHA’s Newsbriefs

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For nearly all my life, I must have had a dog around me in my home ever since I can remember even as a child. The only time I must have been ‘canine-deprived’ was when I was training for Interventional Cardiology (a subspecialty of Cardiology) in Washington DC for several years. Even then, I was tempted to adopt one, but the hospital workload and the circumstances (I was a bachelor—living alone and independently by myself) logically quashed the thought.

A few years after I got married, I gifted my wife a three-month old golden brown dachshund puppy. Charcoal, the adorable short-haired pup, then shared the household in our Makati condominium. He effectively served as a buffer when my then pregnant wife would go into hormonally-triggered mood swings and temper tantrums. He was part of the family’s welcome entourage that greeted our eldest son, Luigi, when he was born and likewise joined us when we moved to a townhouse in the South.

As I was just starting to build a clinical practice then, Charcoal effectively partnered with Luigi in providing relief from work stress and domestic chores. Many years later, when Charcoal got sick and eventually succumbed, it was the first major crisis in the home – drawing profuse tears and days of depression from my wife Angela.

Henceforth, from Charcoal of approximately 20 years ago up to today – the list of canines in the Javier household has been long and diverse. After Charcoal’s demise, he was soon followed by another golden brown male dachshund, Copper, who remained a family favorite for many years. Two other dachshunds given as gifts by patients joined the fray. Bullet, a black, short-haired, big-boned male, and Brix, another brown long-haired male, joined Copper to form a formidable trio of house watchers and barkers.

The early morning noise from the three drew a courteous plea from the neighbor that the dogs’ barking was just too much for their 92-year old grandmother to bear. I fully recognized the validity of the observation. As a result, the more raucous Bullet had to go for adoption with my secretary Nelia while Brix was adopted by another dog-loving colleague.

Toby and Demi’s brood

My children were born and raised unto a household which always had dogs. Childhood pictures and videotapes of fun vacations, beach frolics, picnics, Tagaytay weekends and strolls in pet-friendly malls are replete with canine images. Their recollections of growing up include fond memories and precious canine anecdotes – which include those of a pug named Buster, a very loyal and affectionate golden Labrador (Scooby), a miniature Pinscher (Spencer), a beagle (Juno) and another male Labrador (Jordan).

Today, now that the children are all grown up, dogs remain essential fixtures of their lives. There is a current pool of dachshunds sowing fun in the home. The master and pioneering member of the dachshund squad is Toby, a golden brown male I chanced upon a local pet store in a Pasig City shopping complex.

The narrative goes that when I was in the area to accompany my Balikbayan relatives to purchase some ‘pasalubongs,’ I spotted Toby playing with other dachshunds inside a cage outside one of the stores while drying up after a bath. I passed by and was instantly drawn to him because of his built and color. I touched his head briefly and left, but Toby had this fixed stare as I was leaving – maintaining the stare as I walked to the end of the pavilion – roughly a 50-meter stretch.

Demi and Toby

My nephew remarked that Toby never took back his stare. When we headed towards the opposite end, Toby craned his neck towards our direction – clearly building an instant connection that led to his immediate purchase. Many years after, Toby is still enjoying his stay at the Javier household.

Initial plans to castrate Toby were shelved when a family friend got us a female dachshund (Demi) who has nearly the same built and color as Toby. Demi has since taken our home by storm because of her affectionately clingy and loyal ways, soft cuddly physique and calm demeanor.

Toby and Demi have since produced a brood of five (they are now grandparents). The canine family is growing. The affection is enduring. My daughter Sofia once mused – “What would life be without dogs?” Our instant response was predictably “I cannot imagine!”

Nov 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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