My American Filipino dog Ross and help for canines in PH
The holidays are the time when love and spirituality expand and everyone, family and friends gather close.
Let’s not forget the family dog.
This is a column about dogs. In America. And in the Philippines.
Let me begin with Ross McNab Guillermo–an American Filipino dog.
He was part McNab, the name of a special breed of short-haired border collies developed by ranchers in Northern California. But when we adopted him from a shelter as a one-year-old, he became all-Guillermo, a member of the family.
We had already named dogs after my mother and father. And another Flip. So we named this one Ross, a Scottish name true to the border collie heritage, as well as the name of my college roommate.
Immediately, Ross joined the crew of animals we’ve rescued throughout the years. Willie, the black terrier mutt, who was abandoned literally in a cabbage patch; Josie, a Jack Russell pit mix; Flip, a terrier who was like a black and white chihuahua; Robin, a black-faced puppy from a border collie rescue group.
With Ross, we’ve had five.
Five dogs? Enough for a basketball team.
And Ross would be the one to lead the fast break.
Of all the dogs I’ve called “companion” in my lifetime, (11 dogs in all), only one ever responded when I threw a flying disc, commonly known as a frisbee, in their direction.
While others just let the disc fall to their feet, only Ross saw it as his life’s mission. He wasn’t great at fetching slippers or newspapers (as if dogs do that anymore). But man, did he run down a frisbee thrown 30 yards or more ahead of him. Like a Golden State Warrior streaking toward the basket on a breakaway, Ross would grab a Frisbee with his teeth without breaking his stride, running it down with ease.
Ross was two-sport All Star. We did basketball and football. We’d be on the field and I would be quarterback Joe Montana to his Jerry Rice.
I’d fling that disc toward our imaginary end zone, and there was Ross to make a streaking catch just before the disc hit the ground. It was breathtaking, and truly one of the great joys in my life—to throw a frisbee to my canine athlete. Ross had a loping gait that enabled him to move as gracefully as a thoroughbred. He just moved with such grace.
To play catch with him and see him run was our shared joy the last eight years.
Then a few weeks ago, I threw at Ross one last time. It wasn’t a long toss, just a short warmup about 10 yards away. And then something snapped. Ross yelped and shrieked in pain.
An x-ray revealed Ross had broken the front part of his leg. But there was also something else.
A tumor the size of a marble was growing on the bone. Bone cancer.
It was time to say goodbye to Ross McNab Guillermo. The American Filipino dog had a good life.
But thanks to Ross, it made me think about the dogs in the Philippines, where some dogs aren’t even held close and hugged for the holidays.
Pasay Pups And PETA’s Klip Program
I usually cry like a baby when one of our dogs is put down. They especially have a knack for getting into a life-threatening situation around the holidays.
When it happens, there’s no hesitation to let them pass on. Certainly there is no talk of butchering. Not to a family pet.
But I was surprised when talking to Ashley Fruno the other day in the Philippines how that was all too common.
In the PH, dogs don’t usually live a long life. They either live outside chained, or are left alone and hardly touched because the fear of rabies is high.
It means a dog is rarely given the kind of love we give a family member. And seeing a dog as a piece of meat is not a big deal.
Pulutan pup? Sige.
But then Fruno and her team went into the barangays of Pasay with the KLIP program, a spay/neuter program funded by the U.S.=based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
The Pasay Pups project offers veterinary services and care that makes a big difference in people’s relationships to their dogs.
“We change minds and attitudes about animal welfare,” she told me over the phone.
Since Fruno’s team of PETA volunteers have gone into the barangays, residents there say the butchering, which had been widespread, has stopped.
People began caring about their dogs differently, especially after PETA has spayed and neutered hundreds of dogs since the KLIP program began.
“In 2017, we spayed/neutered 293 dogs and cats,” Fruno told me.
People used to let dogs roam free, as if owned by the entire community. But when the free care was offered, including vaccinations, there was a sense of pride in having a dedicated family companion. People weren’t scared of petting and touching their dogs. And dogs? They weren’t seen as fearful of humans. People began to see the dogs as part of the family.
Even in severely indigent areas, the free care has meant the love has grown.
“One of the main areas we work in is Sarhento Mariano Cemetery, where about 100 families and at least 200 animals live amongst the graves,” Fruno told me.
Imagine living among the gravestones. Suburban America it’s not. But with free vet care, love of dog as companion is growing and for real.
Now Fruno would like to help more than just the dogs she encounters on the Pasay Pups program.
Originally from Canada, she has lived in the Philippines 11 years and now calls it home. And while PETA has helped kick off the KLIP program, Fruno is trying to find donors to help expand her work to other areas of Metro Manila.
“Our work assists the (Philippine) government’s goal of a rabies free Philippines by 2020,” Fruno said.
It’s a noble goal. But there’s so much more to be done as far as basic veterinary care.
If you’re thinking about donations this holiday season, think about those who are even worse off than you and have no voice in the Philippines–dogs.
Pasay Pups can do a lot more with your help. So many dogs are chained and neglected. Some can’t even expect a bowl of clean water.
We can and should do better–and not just for the holidays.
Whether we’re in the U.S. or the Philippines, dogs are family members whose lives enrich our own.
It took Ross the American Filipino dog to help me realize that truth.
Emil Guillermo is an Inquirer.net columnist based in North America. His wife works for PETA, though not for PETA’s Asia Pacific division.
Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/emilamok
Listen to his podcasts at http://directory.libsyn.com/shows/view/id/emilamokstakeout
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