May 25. We’re celebrating my husband’s 33rd birthday today. However, instead of being happy all day, my daughters and I have a foreboding sense of death. The first and only dog our family ever had seems to be dying. Her name is Katya, and I can still remember my little Z picking her over a litter of much cuter puppies being sold in the sidewalk of Alabang last December. (Honestly though, if she could have it her way, we’d take home all the pups!) Katya was already five weeks old then according to the vendor. We named her Katya–one of my suggestions–because her color’s exactly the same as the sack cloth (i.e., in katya or katsa in Tagalog), which was sort of dirty white.
Katya has always been a playful and active dog. She has a very good temper and friendly to almost everyone. In fact, once you get past her size, you would realize that there’s nothing to fear about her. It was rather frustrating that she doesn’t make a good guard dog at all, but she’s a good family dog nevertheless. She’s also good with the kids and she likes being hugged and danced around. She’s also very disciplined, that is, when it comes to potty training and putting away her dish once she’s done eating. However, we had to keep her on leash when she got older for various reasons.
First, no matter how small the gap between the gates and the ground she could fit into them–despite her size and the barricades I had used–and get out onto the streets. She already got lost three times, and we always found her in the hands of a neighbor. Each time, my girls and I would walk around the neighborhood and call out her name teary-eyed. She was once even sold to a guy living in another street. It was a good thing that there was a witness and we were able to recover her. Second, she could not outgrow chewing our slippers and ruining the plants by lying all over them or pulling off their leaves. Lastly, when she gets very excited, she tends to claw and cling. That could be dangerous, especially to Z who’s just about her height once she stands on her hind legs. Her leash is very long, however, enough for her to play ball with the kids, even go out of the veranda and do her thing outside.
However, for a couple of days now, Katya seems lifeless. The last time she ate was last night. I gave her the left over of our home cooked meal. The whole day today, she had not touched her food–both dog food and rice with tuna–refused to drink water, and even avoided taking her vitamins. It’s really sad. Since the rainy days started two weeks ago, for some reason, ticks started to cover her body as well. Big, fat, grey ticks and small, brown, spider-like ticks. Nearly every inch of her back is covered with ticks! Worse, the ticks have also started to invade our home that nearly half of my days lately were spent removing the ticks from Katya’s body and keeping the house and the surroundings clean.
I just couldn’t get over the thought that she’s dying. Aside from the fact that she’s undernourished now, she seldom moved, won’t bother to scratch herself to get rid of the ticks, and all day, she never seemed to sleep but just stared in the space, looking glum. Her collar is now hanging very loose on her neck, yet she won’t bother to remove her head from it, which was so unlike her. Worse, the ticks are now crawling all over her–even away from her–as if saying they’re no longer satisfied with her, that they could no longer get anything from her!
Each time I closed my eyes or my mind would wander, I would find myself looking at big grey ticks crawling all over Katya’s body then onto me. It’s so creepy that I’ve started to hate the color gray, associating it with ticks, with death. My dog’s apparently imminent death.
If Katya dies, I know I’m the only person to blame. Obviously, I have not been taking care of her that well. And to think I’ve had a good number of dogs in the past! I started taking care of my own puppy–i.e., all by myself–at the age of nine and I’ve always been good with dogs, especially my own. None of them died because of illness or ticks. They died because of old age, while I simply lost some of them–they would go out and never return when the gates were opened or during New Year celebrations because they couldn’t bear to be in one place only, listening to the glaring sounds firecrackers would create. One of them was even dognapped.
I had thought of bringing Katya to the vet, but she won’t even budge. Besides, I doubt that any public transportation would give her a ride since some of her ticks are in plain view. Unfortunately, I don’t have her vet’s number either–it’s not listed on the receipts she gave me in the past for Katya’s immunization, and well, we haven’t gone back to her vet for a few months now. She just got so big and she’s very active that she was difficult to contain in the tricycle. And yes, I’ve been so busy with other stuffs. I’ve been trying to look up information online that would keep the ticks away and dead, however. So far, all that I could find were ways to keep them away, but not kill them.
I already bought a rather expensive branded pesticide that’s supposed to be 3x stronger than the regular ones and tough on all types of crawling insects, but gentle to humans. However, it didn’t seem to do anything except aggravate the ticks. When I started spraying it on the outside walls, I saw more ticks trying to crawl past our windows, through the tiny holes of our window screen, and into the house. I’ve been keeping our bedroom windows shut for a few days now, even on a very warm day.
I hope Katya lives. I hope all the ticks will leave her alone and never come back both to her body and our property. I hope Katya finds the will to survive, just as I am finding ways to keep her alive.
May 26. I was up until past midnight, trying to feed and make Katya drink some water. I didn’t succeed. As soon as I woke up this morning, I knew that something was wrong. When I called her name, she didn’t stir. She was awfully quiet, but her lying position showed that she was finally comfortable again. Katya’s gone. And I was reminded of my own mother’s death somehow.