Dog Day Af­ter­noon

Animal Scene - - ANIMAL PERSON - Text and il­lus­tra­tion by NOR­MAN B. ISAAC

It’s hot and hu­mid, and the scorch­ing af­ter­noon sun bakes the sixty or so par­tic­i­pants wait­ing for the start of the Fun Run with the dogs. This writer asks a young lady who is tak­ing pho­tos of a black Labrador. She looks pleas­antly sur­prised.

“Nor­man Isaac, the car­toon­ist! I in­ter­viewed you when I was in col­lege, some 10 years ago, about the Evo­lu­tion of Comics and Edi­to­rial Car­toon­ing,” Pam B. says with a big smile. The ta­bles are turned. Now I’m in­ter­view­ing her.

“That’s Jeff, my hus­band. He works as mort­gage loan spe­cial­ist. He will run with our pet dog Milo,” Pam says. She works as an as­sis­tant train­ing man­ager for a multi­na­tional com­pany in Makati.

No­tice­ably, Milo limps a bit. “Oh, he was in­jured by fall­ing down the stairs when he was just a puppy. He hurt his two front feet, but [his con­di­tion is] not re­ally a bother in his first fun run this af­ter­noon,” she ex­plains.

“My hus­band bought Milo for R5,000, as a Christ­mas gift to me. Milo is our stress-re­liever. After a hec­tic day at the of­fice and bat­tling the mon­strous traf­fic, he gives us a new high when­ever we come home. He’s so ‘malamb­ing’. He’s smart, [a] fast learner, and a good swim­mer. He can obey sim­ple com­mands like: sit, stop, go, and hand­shake,” Pam en­thuses.

She ex­cuses her­self as the Fun Run be­gins. There they go! The pet own­ers and their four-legged friends race down the streets of Imus, Cavite.

Pam’s pet dog Milo be­longs to the foun­da­tional breed of what is now the Labrador re­triever, also known as the St. John’s wa­ter dog. When the dogs later brought to Eng­land, they were named after the ge­o­graphic area known as ‘the Labrador’. They were known as Labrador re­triev­ers be­cause they re­trieved in the Labrador Sea; they are also sim­ply known as Labradors to dis­tin­guish them from the larger New­found­land breed.

Labradors are fre­quently trained to aid the blind, those who have autism, to act as ther­apy dogs, and to per­form screen­ing and de­tec­tion work for law en­force­ment. They are prized as sport­ing and hunt­ing dogs.

While the Fun Run is on­go­ing, Val M. is tak­ing a groufie with his prized dog Jig­saw, a sheep­dog, and the dog lovers in­side the air-con­di­tioned sports com­plex. “I al­ways bring along Jig­saw in events like this, while pro­mot­ing our prod­ucts. His un­usual size is a nat­u­ral crowd drawer,” Val says.

He is the na­tional sales man­ager for dog prod­ucts like soap and sham­poo. “I’ve got other sheep­dogs like Chloe, Bruno, and Fluffy. Breed­ing sheep­dogs is my hobby. I find it prof­itable. I can sell a fe­male pup for PHP 90,000 and PHP 70,000 for a male pup,” he proudly says.

“My love for dogs stems from my mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence when I was in my teens. Ac­tu­ally, it’s [out of] a sense of grat­i­tude that I love dogs. One af­ter­noon, my mother left our gas stove unat­tended. I was sleep­ing at that time. Our Aspin pet Dou­gal started whim­per­ing and paw­ing [at] me, scratch­ing my face and wak­ing me up. I was star­tled to see a small fire was start­ing from the brim­ming ‘kawali’. With­out Dou­gal’s heroic act, a big fire could have razed our house to the ground,” he re­calls. Val prefers dogs to cats. “Dogs are more open. Cats are un­pre­dictable,” he says. “With Jig­saw around, I tend to meet peo­ple from all walks of life, spe­cially the beau­ti­ful ladies who [take] self­ies with Jig­saw,” he smiles with a wink.

Jig­saw is an Old English sheep­dog, a large breed of dog which was de­vel­oped in Eng­land from early herd­ing dog types. The Old English sheep­dog can grow a thick shaggy gray and white coat, with fur cov­er­ing their face and eyes. It can weigh as much as 101 pounds for large males. Fa­mous sheep­dogs are Barkley on Se­same Street and Hot­dog in Archie comics.

Find­ing Milo the Labrador and Jig­saw the Sheep­dog was worth­while in the swel­ter­ing af­ter­noon heat.

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