The only acceptable way for her to die is due to old age.
Thursday night. I’m feeling a bit restless and so was she. I called her out, opened both of my hands palms up and looked at her with wide eyes, shaking my head a bit; she knew the signal. Like an automaton, she pranced around the floor and searched for her Yamashita’s treasure.
She had a new ball; a toy, which was long deprived of her, that she could still vividly recall when someone asks her where it is despite it already disposed of.
“Ball!” I ordered her. She paced half-running, with her ball on her mouth, knowing next what will happen. She dropped the ball at my feet. Next thing, she was already jumping up and down.
One, two, and with a flick of my hand, I threw it across the room. She ran for it and came back triumphantly with her toy in her snout. To and fro, we repeated thrice the only exercise she got for the day.
In those fleeting moments of canine love, never did I mind the sharp claws of her front paws. Scratches and deep impressions were her souvenirs on my knees when we were playing catch; but I didn’t mind. Until she showed her bestial side and nearly snapped at my mom’s hand once when her nails were being clipped, her nails on our legs don’t hurt. The clipper was inutile from then on.
By the fourth time that I shook the ball, she didn’t respond. She just heaved and panted. A second later, she lowered down and simply stared at me with her head resting on her furry paws.
Six years of age. Time is fast. I let the ball rolled off my hand. She just followed the piece of rubber with her uninterested stare. “Ang tanda mo na,” I said.
Just when I was about to stand from my seat, I noticed a puncture on my knee. A blood was in sight.
I got up, headed for the cupboard, took out the bag of cotton balls and alcohol, and proceeded to sit on the kitchen tiles.
“Hold it for three seconds.” Then I checked the wound once more. Pat. Pat. Pat. Two more.
My sister entered by my right from the backyard. I flashed at her the cotton ball with my cleansed blood on it. As if to scare her, I slowly inched the cotton towards her shoulder, while with a gravelly voice, saying: “H-I-V-eeeeeeeeee!” Yes. I could be that gago and tarantado. Haha!
As expected, my sister brushed it aside. People around the house have long accepted what happened. Her question: “What happened?” So, I answered. Then the unexpected.
She grabbed the bag of cotton ball, took out two then squeezed out a generous amount of the disinfectant. She then motioned at my younger brother to raise our pooch by cupping his hands into the darling canine’s limbs and lift her. My sister then proceeded to wipe the dog’s front paws.
Our dog has an idiosyncrasy though. She doesn’t like anyone touching her paws. Overbearing primadonna. So my mom stood by my brother’s side and sweet-talked the little brown overweight pooch by coyly calling her name. The trick worked.
After a few wipes here and there, she was finally let down. My blood was disinfected from her paw.
What if my sister came a second late and she decided to lick her paws? Did she ever know the danger she was about to face?
And the virus I carried is scientifically called “Human.” Will it affect her canine constitution should she acquire it, anyway?
If Fate had it that I unintentionally passed onto her this invisible pirates in my blood, would she die? A slow, mortifying death? A quick one? What will it make of my conscience?
Fate decided otherwise. And as if the goddess of Bitches suddenly got wind of the ruckus, she instructed our dog to go unashamedly ungrateful over the life-saving favor done to her as she walked towards the back of the rice dispenser.
Her half disappeared. The brown thing then started to scratch the floor in her usual doggy way. She was mining a treasure no human vision can see. She dug deeper, nosier, faster. When she was done, she got out, looked at me in a manner that’s awkwardly compassionate. Her eyes spoke of an assurance that she understood that the mortal method of alcohol-wiping wasn’t enough for their genus, that she had to do her part to lessen the risk; and ultimately, that it was all right if she had to put on the extra labor of stripping away whatever bits of virus that might have had clung on her claws.
“That was some good reinforcement,” I told myself.
My failure to act as quick-wittedly as my sister hit me in a way. But I do love her. Really. I love her to incredible pieces such that I pray that the only thing that can come between her and the doggies’ version of Heaviside Layer is old age.