An old friend died yesterday and I was not there when it happened.

My brother tried to keep it away from me because he knew about the relationship I had with our old friend. He too had a special bond with him. And I bet it was also not easy for him to see our buddy, our protector, our constant companion now gone.

And no, I am not talking about the King of Comedy. Despite growing up to his movies and TV series, I do know that I am but only one of hundreds of thousands of fans who laughed at his on-screen comedic performances and listened to the folksy wisdom his characters give on TV. I am talking about someone else literally closer to my home in Cagayan de Oro.

Panday was a gift given to my brother by one of the kids he tutored in an outreach program during his freshman year in college. From one of the rural barangays of the city, he was brought to our house and raised to be not merely a pet but more like a family member.

Of course, it was not easy teaching him things to do and things not to do. And in several cases, we had to repeatedly impress on him those things which he should not do inside the house and with the things we owned. But he eventually learned.

He was not your expensive foreign-bred canine but just your usual mongrel often domesticated by Filipino families for various reasons. But he grew up to be a loving and dependable member of the family. One distinct thing about Panday when compared to our other canine house members was that he listened to you when you talk to him. And he listened attentively.

My mother once said that when you confide your problems to Panday, he would act as though he was also burdened with what you had with you. And I can also attest to that. There have been times then when I am by myself at the house and talking to him where he sits infront of me and listens. And when I am done, he sits on the couch with me to join me in watching TV.

Yeah, it may be just us reading too much into the actions of one of our four-legged house members. But what can I do if we view our doggies that way? Our doggies are family. And where it is possible, we take them with us wherever we go.

When he was younger, we kept Panday inside the house before we sleep since there have been instances when snakes suddenly find themselves in our living room, dining area and even our bedrooms. And there have been instances when he is able to spot them while sitting at the couch. You see, we live in an area just beside a coconut grove and just a few meters from the Iponan River, so I guess snakes are sometimes expected.

In both the 2009 and 2011 floods, Panday, along with the rest of our doggies, would be the ones to wake the family up before chances of evacuating the house would be lost. And they were with my family in those in evacuations. Without Panday and our other canine family members, my family would have been trapped amidst the flood waters or worse.

I last saw Panday when I went home during the Holy Week. And by that time he was already frail. He barely moved in his hut and was often just lying about. We could feel that he was already old, tired and no longer the playful canine he once was. Despite that, he was still quick to give his paws whenever he’s asked for “hands.”

And then yesterday, my brother told me that they woke up to find him already gone. He was still 45 dog years old. Farewell old friend, I will miss you. I will never forget you nor the moments I had with you. I shall take comfort in the cliche that all dogs go to heaven. I hope that is also where I am going.


Author: ellobofilipino

Admit it, my last name's quite difficult to pronounce. It's read as kee-ling-ging.

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