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 P5,000, 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.

 

This appeared in Animal Scene’s December 2016 issue.