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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Bacter and Me: A tribute to our beloved best friend

My dog Bacter and me
Valentines Day has just passed and it was me and my wife's first without our best friend, Bacter - an epitome of unconditional love and loyalty. Bacter passed away 2 days before Hearts' Day. He was with us for eleven years. This post is my way of memorializing him. Let me tell you our story.

Bacter came to us inside a shoebox (that was how small he was) given by my boss, a Microbiologist/Bacteriologist, thus the name Bacter. He was a small, bundle of joy, among the last, if not the last, of the puppies of Ginger (a Japanese Spitz) given away to friends and relatives of my boss. The last puppy to be handed out is usually what is considered the "least attractive" as new family members get to select their pick. We got to pick what was left so we had no choice. But perhaps that was meant to be. Fate brought us together and we don't regret ending up with him. Bacter definitely turned up actually to be a very good-looking dog upon growing up. He is believed to be a mix of Japanese Spitz and Golden retriever-Aspin (Asong Pinoy). He had plenty of hair/coat as he grew which became a challenge to house-cleaning when shedding time comes.

I was not allowed to take care of Bacter in my place so I requested my girlfriend then (who is now my wife) to have him in her home. He was so delicate, so small that we had to put up a sign on my girlfriend's door "Be careful. You might step on our small puppy".

We bought Bacter dog toys like a safe rope for biting, chew bones and balls. Bacter became fond of chewing things - slippers, part of the stairs, part of the sofa, clothes, etc. Practically he bit anything he could chew on. So yes, the toys were there for him to chew on and release energy.

Bacter, less than a year old with his favorite toys
As a small puppy, Bacter became buddies with my wife's resident pet, a cat named San chai (named after the Meteor Garden character). Together, it seems the cat taught Bacter to hunt mice. (Bacter as an adult dog indeed became proficient in hunting mice and rats. He has his way of paralyzing the mice or rat without spilling blood and without eating them.) Anyway, the two became very good friends that we often find them playing with each other. Bacter would protect San chai from attacks by other cats and he would even protect San chai's offsprings from similar attacks. San Chai was way older than Bacter so it was sad that San Chai had to leave this world first leaving Bacter without a feline buddy.

As Bacter grew, he would love to sit on top of the working table while somebody's using it. He loves something soft also to lie upon or sit into. Thus my wife's sofa became his favorite spot along with the long laundry hamper where he barely fits.

He learned commands like "sit", "roll over", "to the chair", "kiss" and many more. When he objects of a command, he makes a Scooby doo-like sound. When we do aerobics, he likes to be carried around while we dance. Visits to the vets are stressful for him. He loves to hear anyone of us sing especially me. I sang him Disney tunes which he seemed to like a lot as he seemed to be lulled into sleep with these songs. He also liked to take a peek on what's outside the window.

One time, a friend lost her balance and accidentally sat on Bacter's tail. Bacter bit her as a reflex response. wW would never forget Bacter's guilty face afterward as he hid under the dining table as if trying to convey to us that he did not mean to bite our friend. Well, our friend remained friends with Bacter after the incident.

There was an incident where he perhaps prevented a thief from entering my girlfriend's apartment while she was out since only a bag was stolen inside the house and there were signs that Bacter may have put out a fight. Seeing Bacter okay that time brought a sigh of relief to us.

In time, he learned where to pee and poo when not able to go outside the house. He only does his thing on top of a newspaper. Whenever one of us arrives, he made it a point to hug and "kiss" us. But alas, I have to leave for Manila for my postgraduate studies leaving Bacter for two years solely to the care of my girlfriend.

While in Manila, I could fondly recall making calls to my girlfriend then "talking" to Bacter via cellphone. Bacter kept my wife company, making her smile always in my absence.  During one of those years when I was still in Manila however, we had a scare. Bacter was seriously injured  with heavy bleeding from one of his toes as he sustained a deep cut. Good thing he survived with the help of my wife's care and our prayers. Couldn't believe he'll get to live for 6 years more.

I went back from Manila and married my girlfriend and I could not forget including Bacter in the video to be played at the start of the wedding reception. He was looking clueless in the video with a ribbon on his neck. He was so cute there.

The bond between us three became stronger as we all live under one woof, I mean roof. Bacter hated the sound of thunder or firecrackers. And despite my two year absence, it was me whom he sought whenever there's thunder or the sound of firecrackers exploding. Though I try to ignore him to discourage his fear, he would climb on top of my lap or lie on my chest. Sometimes he would insert himself in between me and my wife in bed when thunder strikes. We are reminded of him everytime there are thunderstorms until now.

Of course, we don't give him chocolates but he knew when we're eating one. A lot of our favorite food he would ask using his "begging face" look that would melt anyone's heart.

As Bacter aged, he began to play less of catch and fetch. He used to really love it. However he did began to love belly rubs more. He also loved a massage on his head and neck which brought out his trademark contented smile. He would have favorite spots in the house especially the sofa. He would love to climb on top of new blankets and linens. Must be his arthritis that he finds it comfortable to be lying on top of any form of cushion.

When the 7.2 Magnitude earthquake late in 2013 occurred, I fondly recalled him running outside the house ahead of me in panic at the first sign of tremors. And he would join us under a table during aftershocks making our space much smaller.

During typhoon Yolanda, despite hearing of the supertyphoon's possibility of passing Cebu City days ahead, we never thought of leaving our canine friend behind if we were to evacuate to another place. At the height of the storm, we were all embracing each other in fear. Luckily, Cebu City did not sustain as much damage as other Cebu towns.

I don't want to recall the details of Bacter's final moments with us except for the fact that he was able to eat his favorite big pork bone for his last meal, that we were lying beside him on his last hours telling him that we love him and that he seemed to be saying the same as he unusually made sounds minutes before he left us.

Maybe some may not or would not fully understand why this level of emotion and love for a dog. I would not even attempt to explain it here. All I know is that Bacter touched our lives and was a source of unconditional love, of strength, support and of positivity. He still continues to be that source as we remember him. He also definitely helped me cope with my condition. Me and my wife consider him as one of the best things that ever happened to us.
Was not feeling well during this time but Bacter was a source of strength
Do not worry about us, Bacter. Go ahead play with your new friends now in the Rainbow Bridge. Run free. Flash that wonderful smile of yours. You will not be far away anyway. For you are forever in our hearts.

Bacter: 2003-2014

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