Cathy (or Catherine as her owners used to call her) was a mixed Japanese spitz and was the queen of the canines in this apartment building where we live. She ruled over all of them, as most of them were her offspring, or were acquired by their owners in her lifetime. Cathy was quite friendly, and barked only at strangers at the gate. She used to lay her battered green tennis ball at my feet, asking me to play with her. Although she was quiet and amiable, the other dogs dared not show off in her presence; not Lucas the nyctalopic pure white spitz, who was her first born son; not Nikka who was her daughter; not Spot who was her first grandpuppy. Not the other 10 or so dogs in the compound. Definitely not Naxo, who is a mix between a dachshund and a very creative street mutt. Naxo was the biggest dog in the pack, and epileptic to boot (so her owners claim). This was until the owners acquired King, the german shepherd dog (GSD). But neither King the puppy nor Naxo the full grown dog could strut their airs when Cathy was around. No, they all kept their peace and were very good dogs.

One morning Cathy was taking a nap under her owners blue mazda pickup, when her “daddy” (her owner, and–if you read my previous post on dogs–our landlord) got into the pickup to go to work. He was backing out through the gates when we all heard a muffled “crrrunnnchhh”. Turned out Cathy did not shift her head in time to avoid the moving front left tire. She died on the spot. Her “mommy” (our landlady) was devastated. Cathy was her first dog here in Iligan, and had given her litters and litters of pups that now formed the canine crew and gave her endless hours of pleasure. “Mommy” took the limp and bloodied Cathy over to the garden faucet and bathed her face over and over again, cooing softly to the dead pooch, crying.

About a month after Cathy died we noticed a marked difference in the behaviour of the other dogs. Lucas, who used to terrorize tenants who’d come out the front door after dark no longer did so. He stopped barking at anyone who stood close to the gate, and would yelp a greeting at anyone who would call out his name. The other dogs pretty much minded their own business.

But Naxo took Cathy’s death as her liberation. Naxo now prowls the compound at will, barking at anything and anyone that moves. When Naxo starts barking, all the other 15 dogs join in. If you happen to be the person she’s snarling and growling at, and you know her from the time Cathy was still alive, you’d be shocked at her ferocity. Calling her name will do you no good. Not even her “mommy’s” or “daddy’s” orders can shut her up. The latest victims of her newfound agressiveness are Bebing, our part-time helper and–you guessed it–my son, Maui, the two members of this household who are the least enamoured with dogs.

Still wary from last Thursday’s incident with my son and the King the GSD, I made it a point to walk to and from the gate both my son and Bebing as they went about their business for the morning. Sure enough, although King was tied up by his cage, Naxo was roaming free and feeling quite queenly. She was like Alice’s playing card regnant screaming “off with their heads!” and sounding like she would willingly bite them off herself. As I escorted Bebing to the gate I heard Maia cry out in her playpen, so I went back into the house. A minute or two later, I heard Naxo’s deep loud barking again. I went to the door and sure enough, there was Mr. Landlord lecturing Bebing, who was still outside the gate, on how to deal with Naxo. “Just keep calling out her name, don’t worry she won’t bite you, she just wants to play, but if she bites you don’t worry, she’s had her rabies shots…”

I went to the gate, shooed Naxo away with my usual non-kynophobic emphasis, let Bebing in and then said to Mr. Landlord, “She cannot help it if she’s afraid of dogs. You cannot help it if she is afraid of dogs. If one is afraid of dogs one is afraid of dogs, and unless you are willing to pay to put Bebing through psychiatric treatment for her to get rid of her fear of dogs, there is nothing you can do. Telling her not to worry because the dog has had her rabies shots will not take the pain away from the bite wound, should she get bitten by your dog.” I marched Bebing into the house and got myself ready for another foray into dog world this time with my son on his way to school. This time Mr. Landlord accosted me at the gate after I had let my son safely out.

Mr. Landlord said “Misis, ayaw pud pang-isog dayon…”

I don’t know what got me riled up all over again, the fact that the compound dogs were well into a crescendo or that Mr. Landlord had called me “Misis”. We had been living here for almost a year, but he’s never got my name right, or my children’s names right, for that matter. So I let loose. I let him have the whole nine yards, including the murderous look I had chosen not to let them see last week. I told him how he would never understand another person’s fear of dogs because all he thinks of are his dogs, and never the people around them. He countered that he lets the dogs loose for our own security. I told him I didn’t care if he let the entire pack out because I have absolutely no fear of them. I do care about the people in my fold that ARE afraid of dogs, hence my vehement protest. He just stood there with his mouth half open, uncomprehending the fact that there are people who may not like his dogs, his pets, his “grandchildren”.

I left him there and went inside the house and willed myself to cool down. I looked for and read the house rental contract to see if there was anything in what I just did that could constitute enough cause for them to kick us out of our apartment, but there wasn’t any–it was a generic contract with no modifications to suit either party. What the heck, we are on our last month here anyway. Shhhh, I haven’t told the Landpeople/Dogpeople yet. I still need to find a single detached unit in the QC area that has at least three bedrooms and two bathrooms, for under 20T a month. Is that reasonable?

The Whole Nine Yards

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