PERSONAL ESSAY: Manang Kimi: the Kikay of the Pack

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 12 August) — After our dinner at home on Friday (August 11), my wife Ruby told me while I was with the dogs at the kitchen that there were four rolls of lumpia left on the table. I told her that it’s for Kimi. Ruby paused for a second.

Kimi ( October 11, 2008 – August 10, 2017). KEITH BACONGCO

As a general rule at home, all leftovers or any present for the dogs, should be divided equally. I divided the three rolls into six parts while one whole roll is for Maxi since she’s the biggest of the pack.

I distributed the cuts of lumpia rolls to each of the dogs who were eating their dinner at the laundry area. There was one share left. I broke into tears. It was the second night since Kimi passed away.

I then gave the extra cut to Hippo since he’s the youngest of the pack.

Like humans, every dog has its own character. Since we have been living with eight dogs for at least eight years, we were able to distinguish the unique character of each of our dogs.

WELCOME RITUAL. Ruby is welcomed by the pack at our rented house with Myra rolling on the ground. Photo taken sometime in April 2009 .
WELCOME RITUAL. Ruby is welcomed by the pack at our rented house with Myra rolling on the ground. Photo taken sometime in April 2009 .KEITH BACONGCO

Seven of the eight dogs at home are of small breed. Sophie, the most senior of them, is a shitzu-mini pinscher. Chiyo, Kimi, Boks, and Shinji were Sophie’s offspring with Walrus, an Aspin of my in-laws. Hippo and Sushi are the offspring of Chiyo and Boks. The only large breed we have is Maxi, an adopted Dalmatian.

Before Maxi came in December 2009, we also adopted Myra, a 70-kilo St.Bernard from our friend, EJ Matela. She passed away due to illness in July 2009.

When they were young (about 1-2 years old), we tried to teach them some basic dog tricks. The most eager to learn was Kimi. She was very agile  and was able to obey a few basic commands.

For instance, after throwing a ball, she would return it to me in exchange for treats.

Years passed, I was not able to sustain the training. But Kimi remains to be the most agile. Sometimes, I would test her ability. I would clap my hands and instantly,  she would jump on my lap.

Kimi playing at our rented house in Cabantian, Davao City. Photo taken on January 31, 2009. KEITH BACONGCO

Sometimes when I’m seated, I would just tap the chair and Kimi would jump and sit beside me. Lately though, she had difficulty jumping since she gained a lot of weight. The last time we weighed her, she was 11 kilos.

Among them, only Kimi loves to be groomed. Whenever I am holding a hairbrush, she would voluntarily come to me to have her coat combed.  And unlike her siblings, Kimi would never hide during bath time. She’s the ‘kikay’ of the pack.

When Sushi was still around, Kimi would act like a ‘manang’ to her and to Chiyo, and sometimes to a point, a bully. She was the disciplinarian of the pack and she had her own standards of good behavior like they can’t be too noisy or too rowdy, especially around  our three-year old daughter Jordi. She would even bark at our guests if their laughter becomes too loud for her or when they’d walk around.

But it’s not always like that. There were instances when Kimi would also lick Sushi’s eyes and ears, not only as a way of cleaning but as a sign of affection. Like a human ‘manang,’ she had her own ways of showing them her love.

Jordi helping her father bathe Kimi. Photo taken on July 29, 2017. RUBY THURSDAY MORE

Like Chiyo, Kimi was also energetic and kulit. During movie time or even when I’m just lying on the sofa, Kimi would come to me for a belly rub.

When I’m working on my computer, Kimi would sometimes scratch my leg for a belly rub or a massage on her head. So one hand is on the keyboard and the other hand is petting her.

As Ruby would always say, “dili pwede molingkod lang aning balaya.”

Just this June, we noticed that Kimi rarely bullied Chiyo. We would often catch her licking Chiyo’s eyes and ears. She’d usually do this whenever they are inside our room or when we are about to go to bed.

Except for Maxi, all our dogs sleep inside our bedroom. But unlike most of them, Kimi is content sleeping on the floor except during thunderstorms.

On Monday (August 7), we noticed that Kimi’s movement was unusual and she had lost appetite. Normally, Kimi is the quickest of them when it comes to food. Takaw in short.Whenever the food bowls would sound during mealtime, Kimi is

is the quickest of them when it comes to food. Takaw in short.

During our meal time, Kimi and Chiyo would always stay under our table or beside our chair and wait for us to hand them a part of our table food.

On Tuesday, I left the house early for a coverage. Ruby called me that Kimi could not stand on her own and had not yet gone out of our bedroom.

After the coverage, I hurriedly returned home to check on Kimi. I noticed some red spots on her belly. I took pictures and sent them to Doc Bayani. He suspected that it’s the same illness with Sushi and Shinji. It’s ehrlichia, a tick-borne disease.

A rare photo of the pack taken at our rented house. (September 11, 2010)
A rare photo of the pack with Ruby taken at our rented house. (September 11, 2010) KEITH BACONGCO

Since we still have some medicines for ehrlichia, I gave Kimi an initial dose. Afterwards, I trimmed her fur so we could easily spot some symptoms should we bring her to Doc Bayani.

Just this July, I thought we would lose Shinji due to ehrlichia and amoebiasis, which was what cost Sushi’s life last February 21. But thanks to Doc Bayani and his staff, Shinji was able to recover.

At the clinic on Wednesday (August 9), Doc Bayani shared some practical tips on handling these cases. On my way home, I was filled with hopes that Kimi would eventually recover. Later that evening, Kimi could still walk around the house.

Before bedtime, she went inside our bedroom on her own. I placed her on the cushion so she would feel comfortable. Before midnight, she was able to move from one spot to another. But she was panting a bit already.

When I woke up around 6:30 in the morning, I called Kimi to get out of the room. She just stared at me and went back to sleep.

Around 8 a.m., I went back to our bedroom to assist Kimi. But when I held her belly, it was wet. She had already urinated on the floor. I immediately brought her to the porch to check her belly. It looked bad. She could still stand and move a little bit but she was already panting heavily. I noticed that she was in pain when I touched her belly. I was worried.

This time, I knew I had to bring her to the clinic as soon as possible. I gave her the first set of medicines and gave her a quick bath.

Kimi sits on top of a wooden chest at home. Photo taken on April 11, 2017. KEITH BACONGCO
Kimi sits on top of a wooden chest at home. Photo taken on April 11, 2017. KEITH BACONGCO

While I was drying her coat with a blower, Maxi was looking at Kimi and then suddenly tugged on her leash, wanting to reach Kimi and barking softly as if encouraging her to stand up. We were surprised with Maxi’s reaction since they never got along with each other.

Afterwards, I moved Kimi to our dining area and laid her down on the cushion.

At about  8:20 a.m., Doc Bayani told me to bring Kimi to the clinic. In my mind, I was preparing for the worst and trying to accept whatever Kimi’s fate would be.

A few minutes later, Jordi woke up and went out of the room. She went straight to me. While I was carrying Jordi, I noticed Kimi moving away from the cushion to the floor. She struggled to stand. I hurriedly put Jordi down to assist Kimi.

I placed Kimi on my lap to check what’s wrong with her. I gave her a hug and told her that we’re going to the clinic. She was already gasping for air. Then, she breathed her last and her head fell on my chest.

She died in my arms.

I cried like a child, wailing.  She waited for all of us to be up before leaving us. Perhaps, it was her way of saying goodbye.

Eight years is quite a long journey for these little creatures. Through thick and thin, we did our best to provide them with all their needs. Through the years, we believe that Sushi and Kimi lived a happy life.

They say a house without a dog is not a home. We still have six dogs left at home but we will surely miss Kimi’s kikay and takaw attitude.

Since our dogs are aging, we understand that they are in the twilight of their lives. We understand that our time together is slowly running out, and no matter how much we try to prepare ourselves, we know that we will never be ready once it’s time to say goodbye.

Our three-year old daughter Jordi offers a flower for Kimi at her grave as she bids goodbye to her furry Ate Kimi on August 10, 2017. KEITH BACONGCO

Like Sushi and Myra, Kimi was also buried beside our bedroom. It was our way of somehow letting them be still near us, like they’re just sleeping beside us.

She was wrapped with my favorite white worn-out pambahay shirt, which Ruby wanted to throw away for almost a year already.

Our pack will never be the same again. It is so sad that humans outlive dogs. Their lives are short but the time they spend with us is enough for us to feel their unconditional love, never-ending patience and devotion. The eight dog-years that Kimi shared with us was filled with so much joy and love.

No words can describe our grief of losing one of our furry family members. Even though she’s physically gone, Kimi will always be in our hearts.

And since she was newly-groomed, I bet Manang Kimi passed away happy knowing that she was entering Doggy Heaven, all clean and pretty. (Keith Bacongco is a journalist based in Davao City and has a three-year old daughter Jordi who thinks that she is also a dog.)