Monday, August 10, 2009

A Pet Investment

I read this article in our local Progress Leader recently. While the whole story was warm and fuzzy, I just couldn't get over how much this woman spent on her dogs! Holy shmolly, over $50K, sold all her stuff and cashed in on her retirement fund. I really like animals. I grew up with pets galore, but for me there is a limit.

Growing up in the Philippines, we had stray animals everywhere. I picked up stray kittens all the time. Our house had generations of cats and kittens. We also always had a dog. Each one took over the old one when that one died. But I also don't remember taking any of our animals to the vet. It was only a more recent thing when we were old enough to know the animal was sick. And even then we had this vet who had a fear of dogs! A cat I had died of food poisoning. I can still remember that day watching him in agony in our backyard. What was strange was the fact that it did not cross my mind to take it to the vet! All I knew was that it was seriously sick and that it won't be around for much longer. But as cruel as it may sound, that is how animals were treated back in those days. Although there are lots of pets pampered too, majority are still stays, abused and even eaten.

We used to live on Jupiter street. When we were kids, this street was a purely residential street on the verge of being transformed into a hodgepodge of eateries and fancy restaurants. There was a building under construction right across our house. One day our dog went missing. The next day our helpers told my mom they suspect our dog had been eaten by the construction workers across the street. She asked them how they knew and one of them said she lent the workers a bunch of sauces. She didn't think anything of it until she put 2 and 2 together and got confirmation from our driver. Stranger even is that I don't remember my mom doing anything about it.

It was only after moving here, watching Grandma and Pop care for their dog Molly that I got a glimpse of how pets should be treated. Molly is an indoor dog with no flea or tick problems. Although she goes outside, other than a few muddy paws, there are no worries. I remember our helpers used to spend many an afternoon picking ticks off our dogs and drowning them in a bowl of cooking oil. Molly has been spayed. Our pets were never neutered. We just made sure we always had male dogs. Our female cats reproduced every year. But kitten mortally was very high. Majority also ran away. Molly only has one meal a day and her weight is watched. The health of a dog depends on it maintaining a healthy weight. Our dogs had 2 meals a day, were fed table scraps throughout the day and were never weighed. The moment something isn't right with Molly, she's brought to the vet. We had a dog once that was run over by a truck. Instead of rushing it to a vet, my mom poured a whole jar of Chinese medicine on it. Miraculously it lived till a ripe old age, but with a major limp. When talking to Molly, Grandma and Pop refer to each other as mum and dad. I loved my pets, but I guess not to the degree of seeing them as my kids.

It was only after my parents migrated to the US and I was left to look after our apartment in Manila that I took charge of looking after my cat. Because we used to live in a house with a backyard, I had to accustom Cat to living in-doors. Good thing he was a pretty lazy cat and was never interested in venturing out of our property. After we moved into the apartment, he became skittish, ran away once but eventually settled into life as a purely indoor cat. Because he was now an indoor cat, he had his first round of flee/tick removal, got all his shots and was fed proper cat food. I didn't realize just how much work and money had to be invested in keeping a pet!

I had to give Cat away when I moved to Hong Kong. I was grateful for finding a friend who loved cats and wanted to adopt Cat. Unfortunately, Cat died not too long after. My friend told me they were having roach problems and her boyfriend went a bit nutty with the bug spray. Cat died of liver failure due to all the bug spray around their apartment. I cried when I heard the news. He was the last cat I had.

Now that we live in a big house with a huge backyard, the thought of adopting a dog and a cat have crossed our minds many times. Having pets are always a great way of teaching kids how to care for an animal and taking responsibility when it comes to another living thing. Personally, pets I've had in the past always made me feel better when I was sad or calm me when I was stressed. All I had to do was sit with my dog or cat, stroke them for a few minutes and it was almost as if I was cured.

But we're still dragging our feet at the moment. I probably wouldn't have thought much about it if I was still living in Manila in those days. We would have had at least a dog and a cat right now. But I'm glad I've grown up when it comes to caring for a pet. When I think of having a pet now, I'm greatly concerned about its quality of life. At this moment I worry if we'll be able to provide it with an ideal one. And I'm happy to admit that in a strange sort of way.

Kudos to the lady who spent all that time, energy and money on her dogs. I'm glad those dogs found her and were not put down ahead of their time.

In Memory Of Chili and Cat

PS. While I was editing this post, Market Man of Market Manila, one of the blogs I frequently visit, also blogged about his pet. At least reading his post reassures me animals are being treated far better nowadays!

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