September 24, 2005
Cha-Cha in February 2003. (JAYRED)
I don't have a dog in Switzerland right now, and I don't think I'll ever have one now or ever. First, my strict Hausmeisterin (caretaker) has made it clear to us that no dogs are allowed in our apartment building for "sanitary reasons." Second, I don't think that my pet dog Cha-Cha is replaceable.
Although it has already been more than two years now since Cha-Cha died due to complications after giving birth to her first litter, I still find myself in the grieving stage; the pain of losing her still pierces my heart to this day. So great is the loss that every time I discuss her with my husband or my friends, I still cry.
These days, every time I spot a black, hairy dog that closely resembles Cha-Cha in the neighborhood or in the town center, I get stirred beyond my expectations. I can't help but remember my happy days with Cha-Cha -- playing in my Mom's big garden, eating spaghetti and chocolate cake together during family parties, sleeping side by side in my bedroom, and yes, even joining me in our family Sunday Bible study meetings in the living room. These are priceless memories only true-blue dog lovers can understand.
Cha-Cha was an incidental gift to me given by a journalist-friend. Joining our household in November 1995 as a cute, little pup, she became our constant source of canine joy for many years. We nearly lost her when she suffered from a lung infection during her third month with us, but the local vet was able to revive her.
I will always love Cha-Cha for many reasons. She was there to keep me company in my workroom each time I burned the midnight oil, finishing a report or two for my graduate school. She was there to comfort me every time she "felt" I was in a depressed mode by sitting beside me or on my lap; almost always, her presence would immediately cheer me up. She was there to walk with my Dad -- who's now suffering from Parkinson's Disease -- around the garden and, later, to have afternoon nap sessions with him in our nipa hut. She was there, too, to get rid of the mice in our not-so-well-kept dirty kitchen (this made me think one time that, maybe, Cha-Cha was a cat trapped in a dog's body).
It was hard to leave Cha-Cha for good when I had to migrate to Switzerland in February 2003. The two of us never really had a proper farewell rite just because Cha-Cha refused to say good-bye the afternoon I had to hie off to the international airport. She stayed put under my Mom's car, refusing my incessant pleadings to hug me one last time before my next, indefinite return. That fateful day, she refused to acknowledge the fact that my departure was a start of something long-term or even permanent. She was clearly in denial. So there was no real closure between us, and an e-mail from my sister four months later devastated me completely. "Cha-Cha died," she wrote in her first line. A part of me died, too.
I miss Cha-Cha terribly so, and every time I see her slightly torn picture on my bedside table, my chest tightens again. It's something that my husband cannot fully understand sometimes, this latent grief. Probably because he's a cat person, and probably because in the general scheme of things, it really looks and sounds so trivial.
One can never explain, I guess, the depth and magnitude of losing a dog you have loved so much with all your heart and who (not which) has loved you back with the same intensity. Words are not enough, and there are really no apt words for a generic explanation. For this reason, I can only say: I can never own or love a dog again.
Posted by Jayred at 9:51 PM