THE doggy lives I observed at the Burgos Park are enviable. I am a human on a park bench, wondering what great acts of compassion I must do to be reincarnated as a Yorkshire Terrier, a Samoyed or a Bichon Frise living a condo-park-pet spa existence.
Four hours after midnight, I woke up on a working Monday and was on the road in an attempt to cut down a two- or three-hour commute from the outskirts of Metro Manila. Bleary-eyed, I waited for the Bonifacio High Street shops to open at 11 a.m. so I could pick up the books I reserved.
I felt far from frisky, worlds apart from the rarefied plane bearing these beautiful creatures.
Yet, what struck me most that I am in an enclave that hardly resembles the Philippines was not this green oasis circled by the signposts of Western prosperity but the insouciant sociability of the dogs.
They are unlike the dogs I have been used to, commuting around urban centers and even living in gated communities for decades. There are two kinds of dogs in the country: the dogs that are part of families and those that are on their own.
I know the barely human specimens that have an instrumental regard for the family AsPin (asong Pinoy), chaining a dog and leaving it behind for weeks as if it were a burglar alarm with fur.
Most Pinoys, though, love their dogs. They may not afford vet services to spay, neuter or regularly check their pets. But the Pinoys I respect give their AsPins these minimum needs: sustenance, shelter and family.
The dogs of Burgos Park gave me pause, though. Like humans, dogs enjoy meeting other dogs. A walk means opportunities to explore with their noses, roll in the grass and carry out no. 1 (pee) and no. 2 (poo) as nature demands. The dogs’ caregivers and walkers picked and bagged their waste, keeping that park habitable for the humans and other dogs sharing the space.
These dogs’ existence had other trimmings, too. The perks—the humane leashes of extendable length that allowed a dog to wander to their doggy heart’s desire without being separated from their humans, the knit sweaters, bright socks and treats randomly given for acts of obedience or state of cuteness—made a dog’s life definitely better.
It showed in the animals’ coat and the spring of their walk, the alacrity with which they accepted and did not shirk from strange hands petting them. While watching the uniformed guard of a snow-white Akita obligingly snap dogfies with the smart phones of enamored ladies and gents, I spotted a little cat cross the street. A motorist slowed down to let the stray cross without accident.
In Burgos Park, fractal humanity—which deals out cruelty as often as kindness—is at bay.