I would say that I had a fairly good childhood. My favorite memories were traveling with my parents and growing up with dogs.
When I was 7 ( year 1993), I had 5 dogs: Tasha, Butchik, Totots, Joco, and Hotdog. Since they’re mine, it was my responsibility to keep them fed, groomed, and somewhat tamed when visitors would come to our home. In the Philippines, the dogs can go in and out of our yard (and onto the streets and someone else’s yard) as they please. The female ones, Tasha and Butchik, came home pregnant more than twice. I was 9 and both my parents didn’t care about the dogs and if they are pregnant. The only thing that I would hear are my mom’s complaints about the smell from where I was nursing them.
I was fortunate enough to witness and help both dogs give birth to their puppies. I learned to break the amniotic sac before I even knew what they were. When Butchik stopped producing milk on her second litter, I bottle-fed the puppies. The same thing happened with Tasha when she gave birth to her second litter. I had healthy survivors but I also lost some of them after a week of being born. I gave them a funeral in our backyard. Nobody came because no one was invited. Mom was either napping or on the telephone with her friends. Dad was busy providing for us. Both my siblings were either not interested with the dogs or annoyed that I spend most of the time in our backyard playing with them. Our family friends gave the healthy puppies a home and continued to care for them as soon as they’re out of the critical period of being a newborn. Giving them away was always a sad day for me. I cried. I did not protest because I knew that I can’t keep all of them even if I wanted to.
Butchik, Joco, Hotdog, and Totots passed away before the year 2000, leaving me with just Tasha. It was the same year that we moved to a new neighborhood and a bigger home where I am not allowed to bring Tasha. I was powerless and developed a resentment towards my parents. I couldn’t reason with either of them. Mom didn’t want her expensively landscaped garden to be desecrated by my dog and Dad agrees to everything she wants. I get it. They’re in love. Our previous home was then converted as my Dad’s office for his growing company which allowed me to still visit Tasha on a regular basis and I was promised that Tasha will be fed and taken care of. When adolescence began taking over me, I visited less and less. I can’t remember how many times I’ve looked into her eyes and apologized for where my growth had taken me and why we were separated but she always understood. She was always happy to see me and I her. In 2004, Tasha passed away. If I can do this over again, I’ll bring her with me wherever I go. Perhaps I can stop by in her heaven when I leave to go to mine and I can ask her to come with me.
Most of my social learning as a child happened when I am with my dogs than when I am in school with kids my age. Truly. You can tell me that it was probably just my own projection but I really felt one with my dogs. They were my friends and they taught me a great deal of nurturing and companionship and what it’s like to just be–things that I never learned with a bunch of school bullies. To hang out with the dogs without any stimulation but my mother’s garden was the best part of my day especially after coming home from school.