Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Have you seen my missing dog?

Have you seen my missing dog? 
by rick olivares

Do you know what it is like when your beloved pet dog goes missing? 

For Jennette Pe and her beloved dog Kimberly, a crossbreed between a Japanese Spitz and mongrel, it was a 17-day ordeal where the owner endured sleepless nights and long hours combing the streets and alleyways of San Juan even in the unholiest of hours.

For as long as she has lived, JP, as Jennette likes to be called, has been surrounded by dogs. “I grew up in a house where we had pet dogs all the time,” she recounted. “At one time, I even had more than 20 dogs at home!”  

Only after the daily or even the monthly pooch budget began to strain her purse did she cut down on the number of her pets. “Being unattached is a painful lesson to learn,” she dryly noted.

Late in the evening of May 19, Kimberly, who had turned 42 years old (in dog years) last April 1st, snuck out as at the back gate when it was left momentarily open. However, it was only the following day that it was discovered that Kimberly was missing. Compounding matters was that other members of the household not informing JP immediately of her pet’s disappearance.

It was only when JP got home from work in the early hours of the morning when she learned of the bad news.  Distraught, she immediately went out to look for her dog.  JP combed the streets up to the Puregold Supermarket along N. Domingo Street (she lives near the Aquinas School and Dominican College area). “There was hardly anyone outside but that didn’t stop me from looking,” she shared while recounting the rising fear in her gut.  “My poor dog was gone and I felt so sad, helpless… unhappy."

The following day, JP went to the nearby Barangay Hall where the tanods recommended that she come out with a flyer to aid her in her search.  The flyer put her in touch with many concerned dog owners including one who physically joined her in her search.  She offered a small reward for any lead for her missing pet.

For days on end, JP, Joy, and even her brothers joined her search for the missing dog to no avail.  “During the first few days, my hopes were high that I’d see Kimberly on the streets.  But as the days went on, there was this sickening empty feeling inside of me.  For the first time in my life, I knew the name of every street in San Juan.  I went back and forth until I became so familiar with the neighborhood.” 

If her missing pet wasn’t serious business, JP would have laughed at the thought of knowing the city streets like the back of her hand.

"I blamed myself,” she flagellated herself during moments of quiet introspection. “I slept very lightly.  I’d wake up as soon as my phone rang or received a text.  I was searching for any sign. Anything.  For a so-called dog-owner, I had become complacent.  I have been so busy with work that I never got to walk her.  Walking her around the neighborhood would have familiarized her with the surrounding area.  And Kimberly didn’t even have a dog tag."

Then the recriminations gave way to morbid thoughts.  “Did she get rained on (there were consecutive days when the rain fell hard)?  Did she eat at all?  Where was she drinking water?  I wondered if my dog had been slaughtered for food.  I also thought that someone might have picked her up and now took her for their own pet.  Or even worse, she could have been attacked by packs of stray dogs or even run over by a car.”

As it was, the street was a curious, inviting, strange yet deadly new world for Kimberly.

Later, word filtered back from some street urchins that a dog that matched the animal on the flyer was run over somewhere along Kalentong.  Some street kids, without care to themselves, lifted the dog to safety.  The dog was hurt but thankfully, the injury wasn’t fatal.  It soon picked itself up and left under her own power.

JP once more took to the streets with her house helper but still no luck.

As the days dragged on, there were numerous sightings here and there. And she took every text sighting of her dog seriously even if she never saw a glimpse of Kimberly.  Eventually, her brothers got tired of the search and even chided her for paying off an anonymous tip that didn’t amount to any thing.

“Seventeen days had passed, that’s a long time. But I never gave up hope.”

Kimberly's "odyssey"
On the evening of the 4th of June, JP received another text message from someone who said he took in a stray dog for three days only to see it runaway at the first opportunity.  But he knew where the dog had sought refuge — near the BDO bank along Shaw Boulevard and Kalentong.  JP was still at work so she begged her brother to accompany Joy, her house helper who had also spent an inordinate amount of time searching for the pet, to the site where the dog had supposedly sought shelter.

Her brother was a little upset because they had acted on every tip they’ve received and turned up nothing.  

Furthermore, it was almost midnight and he should be hitting the sack instead of searching for a dog that in all likelihood was gone.

When they got to the area, the person who texted the tip to JP pointed to the car where the dog sought refuge.  Joy looked underneath and did see the shape of a dog.  When she called out, "Kimberly!” the dog reacted.  “My heart jumped,” recalled Joy.  “I knew this was Kimberly.” 

She called JP’s brother, Joseph, who was at the wheel of the car. Jennette’s brother  Joseph alighted and called out to the dog.  Kimberly ran towards him Joseph — confirming that it was indeed the missing pet. Yet, strangely, the dog ran back underneath the car.  With the help of some locals, they managed to pull the dog out.

JP then received that phone call she had been waiting for 17 days now. Kimberly, lost and missing, was now found! As soon as she got home, she ran to her dog, emaciated from the lack of food and water, and clearly traumatized from her ordeal. The pet owner hugged, kissed, and held on tight to her pet for dear life.

Kimberly was found a good 1,600 meters — about a 20 minute walk away but across winding roads -- from where Jennette lived. 

It took a few days, and a couple of visits to the animal doctor to clean her wounds and to ease her way back to her normal world.  “She’s still a little traumatized from what she went through,” said JP.  “But she’s getting better. After this, I hope for a joyful reunion of all missing pets with their owners as what happened to me and my dog Kimberly.  I am touched by the kindness of strangers who offered prayers and went out of their way to find my dog.  I am very grateful. Not many people get second chances with their missing pets.  I am going to make the most of this. " 

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