Some people are lucky enough to fall in love at first sight, while others spent a life-long journey towards trusting and being in love again. For Riofa and Bomber, it was a case of both.

Riofa Go is not your typical 21-year old veterinary medicine student. She is also a loving daughter and a dog lover at heart – to the point that she might just rescue every stray animal she sees on the way.

When asked how many dogs she has adopted, she just smiled and says “marami po eh.” At first, she had four dogs, two of which were adopted. Then she met her boyfriend, Paul Febrada, who also happens to be an avid fan of dogs no matter their breed. So together, they shared their homes for animals who needed it.

Riofa and Bomber.

“Sa village po namin, ‘yung ibang mga tao dun, kapag di inaalagaan ‘yung aso nila, samin nalang binibigay,” Paul says. Riofa adds that most of their adoptables are senior dogs, those who were abandoned by their owners at the vet clinic.

“Parang makakatulong ng mga aso, kasi kawawa naman sila,” says Riofa. “Mostly na mga na –adopt kong aso yung mga galing ng clinic tapos hindi na-claim. Kaya ayun, i-nadopt ko nalang.”

At every first meeting, Riofa’s giving heart never falters. She takes them all in without questions. Even at the time she met Bomber, a fierce American Bully.

Freed from the cage

Bomber is a four-year old American Bulldog, who was abandoned by its previous owners at his cage because they described him as “very aggressive.”

Riofa says a friend of hers posted about Bomber on Facebook– asking around whether someone is willing to adopt the dog who was known to be fond of aggressively biting people.

Bomber, according to her friend, used to be well-taken care of by its previous owners. However, as he grew up, his owners have always locked him inside a cage, which led him to become feral over time.

Riofa, unappalled, never held back and inquired immediately.

“Sinabi sakin na ‘yung aso daw nangangagat. Sa isip isip ko, okay lang kasi parang wala atang mag-aalaga. Iiwan na daw ‘yung dog kapag hindi na-adopt. So naawa ako and i-nadopt ko nalang,” Riofa says.

And so she and Paul did.

Are they really bullies?

Compared to other dog breeds, American Bulldogs are commonly viewed as a fierce and aggressive breed. This wrong connotation could have gone way back even before the World War II, where they were assigned to guard properties and catch cattle. They were also the choice for bull baiting, a very brutal sport.

Nowadays, their strong and muscular built is also partly to blame for being branded as “aggressive.” American Bulldogs have a big square head with muscular cheeks and broad, strong muzzles. They can weigh between 60 to 120 pounds with a height of 20 to 28 inches.

Riofa and Bomber during a vet visit.

However, American Bulldogs were bred with the ultimate goal of creating “the best family companion,” according to mydogbreeds.com.

Petmd.com describes them as a very gentle and affectionate dog that loves children!

Adjusting together

Riofa picked up Bomber near their home back in 2017 – marking the first time they will see each other.

At first sight, Riofa says Bomber was really thin and smelled bad. It looked like he hadn’t taken a bath for months and his bones were protruding from his skin. But, for Riofa, it looked like Bomber was not the “aggressive-type.”

“Okay siya. [Nung] nakuha ko siya, ambait lang niya,” says Riofa.

But for Bomber who experienced neglect, he was not just about to put his guard down.

Riofa recalls Bomber has bitten her twice during the first few months they’ve been together.

She was trying to play with the big pup when she stopped to catch her breath. Bomber, who still wanted to play, might have thought his human don’t like him anymore, so he bit her for attention. The same thing happened for the other incident.

But, Riofa never gave up on Bomber. She knew to herself that Bomber was meant to be with her and her family.

As time passed by, she and Paul had gotten hold of what Bomber’s really like – a big boy with a big heart.

“Dati, pag pinapaliguan, binubulsalan pa namin kasi mamaya bigla kaming kagatin. Tapos nung eto na, okay na siya,” shares Riofa. “Gusto na niyang naliligo, gusto na niyang nagpapagupit ng kuko.”

Paul even recalls how Bomber once injured himself for being too excited to play at the clubhouse. “Sobrang saya niya, napipilay po siya. Meron nga dati nagva-volleyball, napunta sa pwesto [ni Bomber] yung bola. Ayun kinagat niya.”

Aside from enjoying volleyball, playing fetch and taking a bath with his humans, Bomber also loves to take his walks every day.

Though he is as tall as an average adult, Riofa claims Bomber is just like other pups who just needed attention and care. She believes that, just like Bomber, any other dog in need of a family and home is worthy of a second shot at life.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s October 2019 issue.

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