Find your next furry com­pan­ion at this ru­ral an­i­mal shel­ter

Northern Living - - CONTENTS - TEXT BEA CELDRAN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY CHOLO DELA VEGA

Creativ­ity is in­flu­enced by our en­vi­ron­ment. A lim­ited space with min­i­mal leg room en­cases creativ­ity and bor­ders one’s imag­i­na­tion. In the case of the Di­maru­cots, their move to a larger abode right smack at the city’s cen­ter was a de­ci­sion they never re­gret­ted. AJ and Au­drey Di­maru­cot of the renowned Goo­goo & Gaga chil­dren cloth­ing line also left their cor­po­rate jobs to fo­cus on their grow­ing fam­ily. So ded­i­cated they were to their chil­dren that their off­spring set the tone of in­spi­ra­tion for their la­bel. “Part of the rea­son [ the busi­ness] was done was for the kids. We’re de­sign­ing for them pri­mar­ily. As they grow, the brand grows,” says Au­drey as she points to­wards the makeshift show­room in her own home.

The Di­maru­cots’ three- bed­room flat is spa­cious enough to af­ford an aux­il­iary nook for their ex­tra stock. Res­i­dents in The Grove by Rock­well, AJ and Au­drey are more re­laxed at their new home. AJ tells us, “We lived in a very com­pact space. The idea of more breath­ing room helped with the well- be­ing of ev­ery­one, not just with our cre­ative process.” While Au­drey tack­les the brand’s lo­gis­tics and mar­ket­ing, AJ is re­spon­si­ble for its cre­ative leg, where he mostly works from home. He ad­mits that their abode in The Grove has im­proved his work 100 per­cent be­cause of the breath­ing room. He finds in­spi­ra­tion and trans­lates them into de­signs with­out any hin­drances. “I be­lieve the en­vi­ron­ment changes you,” AJ adds.

In their Rock­well home, the chil­dren have des­ig­nated spa­ces. En­ter­tain­ing guests have be­come a wel­come ad­di­tion in their home. The ameni­ties at The Grove al­low their chil­dren to ex­pel en­ergy out­doors de­spite be­ing in the city. Their teenage son plays bas­ket­ball in the court ev­ery day while their younger daugh­ters play in The Great Lawn. On week­ends, the fam­ily spends some down­time swim­ming to­gether at the pool.

For the Di­maru­cots, the pri­or­ity is al­ways the fam­ily. “Life hap­pens for us, and then we work around it,” says AJ. At The Grove, the cou­ple is able to spend as much time with their chil­dren. “Bal­ance is formed when you try to for­give your­self. It’s know­ing what you are first and be­ing that. And to­mor­row is an­other day,” Au­drey con­cludes. Dis­cover how you can have more time with your fam­ily and live life as it hap­pens by call­ing 571-8151 or vis­it­ing www.the­grove­by­rock­well.com

home. But the cat, which they named Daniel, be­came more than res­i­dent rat hunter. In fact, Daniel—now 15 years old and very much a part of the fam­ily—still lives in Japan with the Ya­su­das.

Af­ter she got Daniel, Baquiran-Ya­suda be­gan hold­ing Trap, Neuter, and Re­lease ( TNR) op­er­a­tions in Japan. In De­cem­ber 2007, she came home to the Philip­pines and con­tin­ued her ef­forts here. This was when she chanced upon Beauty, an in­jured stray dog that found its way in­side Baquiran-Ya­suda’s An­tipolo home on Christ­mas Eve.

Beauty was Baquiran-Ya­suda’s first ca­nine res­cue. At 10 years old, the as­pin is now one of MBY’s many se­nior res­i­dents, which is also cur­rently home to “al­most 300 dogs and more than 300 cats”—the fi­nal count still un­de­ter­mined be­cause of new re­cruits. The com­pound is di­vided into ar­eas that are easy to make out: the cat house, the dog pens, and an en­closed space des­ig­nated for nurs­ing an­i­mals and their young. Lin­ing the drive­way are nipa huts where stay-in care­tak­ers re­side. “From 12 care­tak­ers, we’re down to seven. You need peo­ple whom you trust— peo­ple whom you know will be com­pas­sion­ate to­wards the an­i­mals even when you aren’t look­ing. We need pa­tient peo­ple with big hearts,” BaquiranYa­suda stresses.

Much of the prop­erty is still un­de­vel­oped, with the grass un­kempt and wild ferns grow­ing ev­ery­where, but Baquiran-Ya­suda prefers it this way. Dogs have am­ple space to run and play, and herbs that are good for the an­i­mals are eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble.

Al­though in var­i­ous stages of re­cov­ery, it is ev­i­dent that the an­i­mals are ac­cus­tomed to ne­glect. Most are strays, oth­ers aban­doned. Some bear phys­i­cal marks of abuse, while a few re­main wary of hu­man con­tact. But there are also those who crave af­fec­tion, oc­ca­sion­ally jump­ing on vis­i­tors un­til they get a thor­ough pet­ting. One thing is cer­tain though: re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing th­ese an­i­mals is no walk in the park.

A typ­i­cal day in MBY starts at 5:30 a.m. Morn­ings are spent clean­ing the cages and feed­ing the an­i­mals. Dogs are let out and al­lowed to roam twice a day: once in the morn­ing and once in the af­ter­noon. Spe­cial at­ten­tion is given to nurs­ing moms, kit­tens, pup­pies, and the ema­ci­ated and sick. After­noons are for bathing, clean­ing food and drink­ing bowls, and do­ing the laun­dry, among other tasks. For the an­i­mals, how­ever, noon marks the be­gin­ning of nap time.

The up­keep is as heavy on the hands as it is on the wal­let. MBY spends at least P10,000 a day on food alone—that’s about 145 ki­los of pet food on a daily ba­sis. Ve­teri­nary fees, util­ity bills, and the care­tak­ers’ salaries and food al­lowances are an­other story. Baquiran-Ya­suda re­calls spend­ing as much as P70,000 in one go for ca­nine vac­cines. This is on top of en­sur­ing that all an­i­mals are cleared by the vet be­fore they can in­ter­act with other MBY res­i­dents. Al­though ve­teri­nary as­sis­tance is of­ten pro­vided by Paraan An­i­mal Clinic in An­tipolo, it’s easy to rack up med­i­cal bills es­pe­cially since all roam­ing an­i­mals in MBY are spayed or neutered. This is the only ef­fec­tive way of con­trol­ling the pop­u­la­tion in­side the sanc­tu­ary with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the an­i­mals’ qual­ity of life.

“Res­cu­ing isn’t pageantry. It’s not for show. You can’t just res­cue an­i­mals and post it on Face­book, then leave them here af­ter that.”

Be­cause of the high up­keep, Baquiran-Ya­suda ad­mits to hav­ing used up her per­sonal funds for MBY. It wasn’t un­til last year that she raised the white flag and re­al­ized that she needed more help in fund­ing and run­ning the sanc­tu­ary. “I am very ful­filled even if some­times it gets so dif­fi­cult. They tell me I’ve sac­ri­ficed so much for this but I refuse to use the word ‘sac­ri­fice.’ I chose this. I didn’t plan on do­ing this. It just hap­pened. I lost ev­ery­thing. That’s why I al­ways say, ‘I may have noth­ing, but I have my dogs.’”

One thing Baquiran-Ya­suda also learned the hard way was the dif­fi­cult part of vol­un­teerism: wait­ing for words to be­come ac­tion, and count­ing on peo­ple to com­mit to the un­der­tak­ing. She re­calls peo­ple promis­ing as­sis­tance, mone­tary or oth­er­wise, but the help never came. There were those who pledged to adopt, but re­fused to go through the adop­tion screen­ing process. Some would res­cue as many as 20 an­i­mals at a time, dump them at the sanc­tu­ary, and dis­ap­pear as soon as they wrap up the photo op. “Res­cu­ing isn’t pageantry. It’s not for show. You can’t just res­cue an­i­mals and post it on Face­book, then leave them here af­ter that. You have to take care of th­ese an­i­mals. Give them food. Visit them. Re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing th­ese an­i­mals is a long-term af­fair.”

But for those who gen­uinely want to help and have it in them to fol­low through, Baquiran-Ya­suda asks only one thing: “Please come over and visit so you see for your­selves. I’d rather you see where your help goes.” Want to show some love to our friends at MBY? Here’s how:

1. Adopt, don’t shop

MBY is home to a num­ber of dogs and cats ready for adop­tion. Ma­jor­ity of the an­i­mals are just wait­ing for kind souls to open their homes to them. There’s no adop­tion fee, but MBY ob­serves a strin­gent adop­tion process, which, un­der­stand­ably, in­volves screen­ing and house vis­its.

2. Donate or spon­sor

MBY ac­cepts all do­na­tions, whether mone­tary or in kind. Aside from pet food, the sanc­tu­ary also needs a steady sup­ply of tow­els, blan­kets, pet soap and sham­poo, laun­dry soap, dis­in­fec­tants, and sur­face clean­ers. You can also opt to spon­sor a spay or any med­i­cal treat­ment.

3. Vol­un­teer and visit

Re­ha­bil­i­tated an­i­mals need ex­tra care and at­ten­tion. And when the an­i­mals feel loved, they re­cip­ro­cate end­lessly. Tak­ing time off from your busy sched­ule to visit th­ese furry friends at the sanc­tu­ary is good not only for the an­i­mals but for you, too. MBY Pet Res­cue and Sanc­tu­ary. Teresa, Morong, Rizal. 0927-6136886. Face­book.com/pg/mbypras

“They tell me I’ve sac­ri­ficed so much for this but I refuse to use the word ‘sac­ri­fice.’ I chose this.”

Clock­wise: The Di­maru­cots work in their liv­ing room; Goo­goo & Gaga’s art is done for the kids; AJ and Au­drey talk about their busi­ness’s con­cep­tion; The Grove’s amenity deck is for fam­ily bond­ing.

Baquiran-Ya­suda can’t stress enough that re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing an­i­mals is a longterm com­mit­ment. Cats and dogs in shel­ters need to learn that they can trust again.

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