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Philippine Forest Dog

My mother bought our first set of two puppies. We were very young then. I remember we put them in a box and under our bed. But still they kept howling. Apparently, they missed their own mother. Sadly, they did not survive.

I am a dog lover. We have an encyclopedia and it had a section devoted to breeds of dogs with pictures in color. I enjoyed looking at them. I never grew tired of appreciating the subtleties of the different types of dogs. From memory I could tell you that there are working dogs, toy dogs, herding dogs etc.

Eventually, while still in elementary, I learned that a classmate of mine had new puppies that were for sale. He asked for twenty pesos for one puppy. My classmate lived in the part of town where horse carriages are one of the means of transportation. We rode the “kalesa” going to their home. Then, I took my newly bought puppy home.

My parents were surprised that I came home with a new puppy. Since the puppy was all white, my mother suggested that we named her “Blanca” which is the Spanish word for white. However, Blanca had a lot of fleas. My siblings, unfortunately, had rashes so the puppy was given to our loyal household helper, Aling Trudes.

Both of my paternal and maternal grandparents’ houses had dogs. I do not know the type of breed that the dog of my paternal grandfather had but her name was princess. On the other hand, my maternal grandmother, they had two pekingese named Prissy and Atush, and a pure breed poodle called Samantha. And, they also had an Aspin or an Asong Pinoy. Through the years, my Aunt had Pomeranians and many others.

My eldest sister’s family had Dalmatians and I was also given one. My youngest brother’s family has a beagle named Charlie. Another brother has a toy breed dog for his daughter named Haru and another brother’s daughter has a Siberian Husky called Connor. My brother priest now has a Belgian Malinois together with the Aspin farm dogs.

There were two puppies that our late Aunt who lived in Candelaria, Quezon were given to us when we were in high school. They grew and aged well. They were originally named Scotch and Whisky. Later on it became Scotchie and Whitie. They were both females. Whitie gave birth to a few litter of puppies in her lifetime. I recall giving a few to my classmates, to my father’s classmate, and to my late brother priest. He called the puppy El Guapo. That late brother priest in the not so distant future had a German Shepherd whose name was Bruno. Whitie had a puppy called Panda. Panda was my mother’s favorite dog. She had a distinct shiny coat.

Even though Scotchie and Whitie were Aspins, they looked very similar to Corgis. Being dog savvy, I can tell you that hey your dog looks like a Border Collie or such and such. Generally, Aspins are medium sized dogs. They come in whites, browns, yellows, and blacks, or combinations of these colors. They may have short to thick fur. They may have drooping ears or upright ears.

Here in the City of Naga, locals have a unique way of categorizing Philippine breeds of dogs. The French-pronounced “Naturale” breed which are the short haired types. The “Balbon” or the thick-haired-dogs. There is also the “Native” or the sleek thin muscled dogs. And the last would be the “Maylahi”, these dogs look like pure bred dogs.

The only surviving line of over thousand of years that is endemic to the Philippines are the Philippine Forest Dogs. They are also called Tiger Dogs, because of their stripes, and, Philippine Witch Dogs. They are medium sized dogs that can climb and help their hunting masters. They are primitive dogs. And they are the only breed in the world that shed its claws. The Philippine Dog Association’s application is in its final stages for the breed to be recognized in the world. It is about time.

The other breed which is rarely seen nowadays is the Manilla Spaniel. When I was young I remember seeing them roam the streets of Naga. Foreign breeds were uncommon at that time so I am sure they were the Manilla Spaniel that I had seen.

In the final analysis, a dog is special to the owner. No matter what breed it is, it does not matter. The love that the human has with its dog and vice-versa is what truly matters and nothing else.

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