THE biblical injunction to let sleeping dogs lie does not count on Udo, the family aspin (“asong Pinoy”).
When he first arrived about a decade ago, we lined a small box with the younger son’s unwashed shirt in an attempt to quiet him. He was given away from a litter of pups born from an unsupervised coupling between a Labrador and one of the local bitches.
During the drive from the dog farm in the south of Cebu to our home in the city, the black ball of fur ate and sniffled from my son’s lap. Except for the whites in his eyes, he was black all over. Black muzzle, black paws, black pools of misery reproaching those who tore him away from his mother’s side.
That was probably what made the superstitious stay away from him. All that presentiment of darkness.
Or perhaps it was just the noise that he made that first night. A low prolonged thread of keening that dogged and found us wherever we tried to escape in our small home. Thunder, rain, the dark, and sleeping alone made Udo notch his wailing even higher, seemingly beyond human endurance.
When he finally quietened down, we discovered he had overlong ears that flapped, twisted, and upended when he became engrossed: wolfing down pan de sal, chewing shoes, and sitting down with us for meals even though limbs and tail untidily spilled from chairs too quickly outgrown.
The puppy that once kept the whole household awake has become sedate in his senior years. Each time I come home, I find his long dark shadow almost always stretched on the floor, beside my chair.
He still rouses a shadow of the old friskiness when he hears the breakfast rustling of the bag containing hot pan de sal. But even before night has fallen, Udo is a dark comma curled beside our bed, sometimes snoring but no longer yipping puppy dreams. One thing remains unchanged: a keen hearing in those silken socklike ears. Deep in sleep, he will suddenly leap up and bark in a frenzy when he hears what he alone can hear: someone familiar approaching our home and pushing, predictably minutes after he sounds off the alert, the rusty gate we have never been able to oil properly.
A dog they say ages seven times faster than humans. I doubt that. The disorder that makes one sleep longer than usual afflicts not just aging pets.
Every day, I take in the news. I follow the killings that take place daily, the bodies that go unremarked.
Occasionally, an odd detail catches the eye, a body swinging from the bridge greeting early risers. Or a child catching a bullet like a common cold.
The proverb to let sleeping dogs lie means to let things be. Rise only for the ones you love. That is what the family aspin does while I prefer the long sleep.
July 27, 2019
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