September 24, 2005

Missing Cha-Cha


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.

13 comments:

jane said...

That's just heartbreaking...

jinglebell said...

hmmm...i can totally understand. we lost the family dog when i was fourteen, and thank God, i had a decent closure with Gulliver. days before he "left" us (he died of old age), i would sit beside him, keep him company, sometimes in silence, sometimes him simply listening (and watching me with his doleful eyes) to my incessant talk about how much i appreciated him and how we'll always miss him. it's been over 20 years now but my heart would sometimes still ache for Gulliver; for sure, no future pet/s can ever replace the spot he held in my heart....indeed, someone's deep feelings for an animal that became part of your life could only be truly understood experientially...

i hope your healing for Cha-Cha's loss comes soon....

husticia said...

jayred, lungkot naman. i could just imagine how hard it was for you and cha-cha to separate.
i could not even picture our family without jake. ok, we do have 2 dogs, another one is a shih-tzu named lulu, but it's just that with jake, the bonding is different. (para na kasi siyang tao) and surely, you know what i mean.

i know exactly what you mean and i can only wish na you'd feel better.

TaLhey said...

hi, i do understand how you feel. i hope you will feel better soon about this. i was 6 when we lost our family dog, iking, due to old age. since then, i never had any closer-relationship to any pet. until i had yuree in 2003. just the thought of losing him is too much for me, unimaginable.

JAYRED said...

TO ALL: Thanks for your messages. I really appreciate them.

JANE: Yes, it was truly a heart-breaking experience for me and my family.

JINGLEBELL: Good you had a decent closure with Gulliver. Your words are so true: "Indeed, someone's deep feelings for an animal that became part of your life could only be truly understood experientially...." Thanks for wishing me well. Healing will come, with God's help.

JCFS: Like Jake, Cha-Cha was also human-like in her actuations. Plus, the bonding was really special. Nice to know you were able to related to my story. Thanks for your kind words.

TALHEY: Thanks. I do hope I will feel better about this soon. I think it helped that I was able to share Cha-Cha's story here in this community blog (thanks, Thess!) because dog lovers like you, jcfs and jinglebell could relate to my feelings. I hope you'll have lots of fun years with Yuree!

GOD BLESS, EVERYONE!

Jayred said...

ERRATUM (RESPONSE TO JCFS): "...were able to RELATE..." and not "...to RELATED..." My apologies. I was typing too fast.
:-)

annabanana said...

jayred,
this post made me cry! just like you, i had a pet dog (actually she was a family dog, not mine alone) who died when i was 20n years old, after being with us for almost 15 years...just imagine how devasted we all were! i grew up with many pets, but spinks will always THE best pet, we've ever had...until matilda came along...wounds do heal, jayred. cha-cha and spinks, they are forever with us.

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jayred said...

ANNABANANA: Yes, wounds do heal. Thanks for your comforting words. I'd like to think that I'm on my way to complete healing...slowly but surely. It's true: the likes of Cha-Cha and Spinks will forever be with us in spirit. Salamat uli.

Jessica said...

I am so srry I hope that you can keep her in your heart and always remeber her!!!!Just remember that she is still with you in your heart and memory!!!!Well my very best wishes to you to be ok!!!!Good luck!!!!Bye,Bye!!!!!
P.s-She is probaly wathcing you and sending her best wishes to you and in some way saying she loves you and she will always love you.

jayred said...

Hi, Jessica. Thanks for your warm message. I appreciate it.

You know, I had a dream three weeks ago: Cha-Cha ran up to me and "hugged" me tight (something like saying good-bye). I felt so good after waking up; I finally had closure. I guess it was from the Lord.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Hi..I'd just like to say that what you've written has stirred me to tears directly. i completely feel your pain. i thank you for sharing this and for loving your dog so fully. i feel that her death although sad is alright because you loved her. since she was so loved her life was surely good. i wish you all the best.

Jayred said...

ANONYMOUS: Sorry if my blog piece made you cry. But at the same time, thank you for your empathy. It's really hard to lose a dog you love so much.... Cha-Cha did have a full life, yes. It's just that I sorely miss her from time to time...Thanks for wishing me the best. God bless your heart.