It’s a drizzly early morning, half past four when I get up, get dressed, go out and say hi to the dogs. Greta, you’ve been out all night, into the cage now, good girl. Cersei’s turn for a quick run around the grounds, then back into the cage to wait her turn. Magnus, now by the gate, waiting for me to put work glove on my left hand, volunteers his neck into the thin red rope leash. I unlock the gate and step out, big Rottweiler shadow behind me.
We take the ’round the block route, down our street, left at the first corner, into the highway, going against the traffic to the next corner, up the hill and into our street again. Magnus pulls excitedly on the leash as he usually does on the first few meters, I correct him every now and then, and he calms down. Walking down our street towards the corner I look up at the horizon past the mango and the coconut trees and see a rainbow.
At first I don’t realize it’s a rainbow. It isn’t the kind of rainbow that small children draw in school, beginning and ending behind the tops of two mountains looming over a ricefield flanked by coconut trees. It was more of a stroke of a paintbrush gone rogue in the hand of someone painting a mural onto a child’s bedroom wall. But it is, nevertheless, a rainbow.
Magnus, of course, doesn’t care. What’s a rainbow to a dog walking in the early morning drizzle, on a route with smells familiar to him from yesterday. This is the gate behind where that pesky pekingese is in heat, that where the caged Belgian Malinois protests his perpetual incarceration with crazed high-pitched woofs. Under that car parked near the corner is the brown tabby calmly grooming herself, knowing he can’t reach her anyway. All he cares about is that patch of grass in front of the recruitment agency where he poops, and the various posts and poles he marks as his territory.
Further up on the highway is the bakeshop where we stop to get cheese bread, just one piece for five pesos, then park ourselves in front near the traffic light at the corner, he staying down on the sidewalk, me pinching pieces off the bread and tossing it into his waiting snout. We do that, until the bread is gone, amid comments from bread-buyers and other passers-by, that’s a big dog, scary dog, look he eats bread.
On the last stretch now, walking up the incline towards the last turn, the road now getting as busy as the sidewalk. Going past the fruit stands I note which ones have the good-looking bananas on display. Magnus spies the chickens past the wire fence of the chapel of St. Joseph, and looks up at me as if asking if it was all right to give them a scare. I say no.
Just a couple of hundred meters more and we’re back at our gate, and as I dig the keys out of my pocket I hear the other two dogs fidgeting in their cages, eager for their turn to walk. I take Magnus inside, and he walks towards his cage, gets inside and turns around to drink from his bowl. Good dog, I say, scratching his neck and ears. Good walk. Good boy.