Thursday, July 14, 2011

Og Whisperer

Claveria - Tiger and Me 2
Tiger and me in Claveria
It must be the Ilocano empanada I ate last night leaking from my pores that got him sniffing me out.  I was freshly-showered but I'm pretty sure I smelled like dogfood to this strapping fellow who eyed me as I sat on the divan just outside our room, trying to mend the straps of my sandals.  A few sniffs may have told him I wasn't a threat so he jumped onto the divan and made 'em dog circles.  I wasn't sure if that was a prelude to relieving himself but boy was I surprised when the dog lay down beside me.  Oh those eyes just begged for me to scratch his ears and snout before I got back to my chore. By the time my travel buddies got out of the room, I even got a wet kiss.  The kindness of strange dogs indeed.

His name is Tiger, I would learn later (the black splotches on his light brown fur was a clue), one of Claveria Grand Inn's resident dogs.  Did he sensed I might need some canine company on this overcast day?  Or was it a parting gesture since we were set to leave Claveria for Tuguegarao that afternoon?  I'll never know for sure but every time I see this snap, it always make me smile.
Ilocos Norte - Kapuluan Pet for a Day
Julia, cozy in Kapuluan
Becoming a dog bed in Kapuluan.  Hmmm, for sure, it wasn't the vegetarian pasta I was having that drew Julia to our table.  Coquettish with twirling fur to match and splotches of brown that lend a somehow flirtatious character to her face, this sociable little pooch of Kapuluan Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, isn't at all shy to strangers.  But I guess it's a different matter altogether to be chosen as her human dog bed.

With one mighty leap, she was sitting next to me while I was enjoying a rare, leisurely breakfast during a location shoot for a travel magazine. Minutes later, Julia was snoozing on my lap, twitching her legs from time-to-time as if lost in a dream.  I had to stay put for the next half-hour, afraid I might disturb her blissful nap.  If you find yourself in Kapuluan Resort, you just might get to babysit (or puppy-sit?) this lovable canine and probably even meet her  phlegmatic, more reserved, mom.
camiguin islet's pops and og
Pops with the floppy ears flash a smile in Camiguin
The dog who knocked/scratched twice.  Hearing scratching noises behind your door late at night during a vacation can be quite unnerving.  Is there an emergency?  Do we have to settle our bill?  Did we get the wrong room?  We had a long day coming off an overnight stay on Mantigue Island off Camiguin and catching up on lost sleep was the only thing in our collective heads.

But the scratching persisted.  Yawn. No other recourse but to answer the door.  Imagine our surprise to see Pops, Islet Resort's resident canine, eagerly run inside and plop on the floor between the two beds.  Sure, it was raining outside but there was plenty of shelter elsewhere in the resort.  Perhaps, Pops wanted some human company.  Or was she just making sure her new friends are safe and dry from the rain?  Oh well, one thing's for sure -- she seemed happy to see her human friends again.  Now, shall we play? her naughty eyes and slightly lopsided mouth seemed to say.  Ahhh, sleep had to wait until Pops got her hefty dose of ear and snout scratching.

Tiger, Julia and Pops are just three of the many dogs I've befriended during my travels. I may not have a pet dog in a long time but I've never outgrown my love for dogs.  And for some strange cosmic reason, I can say that most dogs I've met are just too happy to return the affection.   After reading Ted Kerasote's touching novel, "Merle's Door," I felt obliged to honor our canine friends with an overdue post.  It may not come as strange that one of my travel quirks is that I am somehow drawn closer to places where dogs live happily, bark freely and befriend strangers like me.

Attribution: "Merle's Door" book cover image was culled from • This book shifted my idea of dogs from submissive creatures to canine friends possessing individual personalities. Ted wrote from a place that dog lovers will find all-too-familiar and real. The story of Merle begs the question, "why can't there be a dog heaven?" I wrote Ted a note of appreciation and it was swell to receive a reply.  Says he, "'I'm also glad that you, too, think that dogs have souls. It's hard to imagine that some people think they don't."  I'm sure that Merle, with one brow half-raised and teeth half-bared in a smile, will look down from heaven in approval.


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