Polly is our furball. My father bought her as a birthday gift to his partner last 2006, but the Toy Poodle puppy seemed to love me more. Eventually, Polly became mine, and we have been inseparable ever since. She has been through the ups and downs, tears and laughter, and triumphs and failures in my life—and later, our family’s. She knows all our secrets.
Loyal dogs truly have this wonderful instinct of filling up the black voids in our lives that we didn’t know we have.
Polly chases cats, terrorizes water delivery boys, growls at younger dogs, and romps around on the grass. She loves exploring secret nooks, jumps when we touch her butt, brings her food from the bowl to the living room (thus creating a mess), crawls under our computer table (entangling herself in wires), likes us to sniff her (yes, she trained us to sniff her), etc. She has this silly grin that never fails to bring a smile in us even in the dreariest days.
Mischievous and full of energy as she was, Polly is sweetness doggiefied. She often likes to curl up and snuggle beside Sweetie or Alexa when we sleep. When we’re working, she would quietly lie down beside our feet or an empty space at the bottom of our bookshelf. She would fall fast asleep when we rub her belly, touch her ears, comb her messy hair, or pluck out wayward ticks under her little paws.
The only fault a dog has is that they do not live as long as their owners. At 12 and a half years old, Polly was already at the twilight of her life. Sadly, that purple sunset came a few weeks ago. The energetic and mischievous furball suddenly fell seriously ill. She got extremely weak, lost her interest in eating and drinking, lost a lot of weight, kept throwing up, and had difficulty of peeing and pooing. Then one day, her skin turned a sickly yellow, and her breath started smelling of urine.
It turned out that Polly was suffering from Stage 2 renal failure, a critical condition wherein the kidneys stop working. Her liver was also affected. Without the kidneys and liver to filter out harmful substances, she was slowly being poisoned by her own toxins. Unlike infections which can be cured by antibiotics, multiple organ failure is irreversible.
Polly is a huge part of our family, so you can imagine just how devastated we were, especially after seeing her becoming frailer every day.
But we know Polly doesn’t want her family to grieve. Every day of her life, she was always on the lookout for fun. Her last few days should not hinder her from doing what she loves. We decided to honor her by taking Polly out to a fun-filled adventure in a beautiful local beach in our sunny island.
Before doing so, she decided to gatecrash a children’s birthday party.
Then we took her to the front of our subdivision where she usually loves to play hide-and-seek in the bushes. Her sickness didn’t stop her from having fun even though her sight was fading and she can barely walk. This is what living life to the fullest is all about.
Polly absolutely loves rides. So you can imagine her excitement when we rode a taxi all the way to Vaño Beach. We rarely ride taxis, but this was an exception.
A quiet, happy, and sunny afternoon! What a perfect day for a stroll down these sandy shores. And personally, this was quite nostalgic visiting this beach, one of the few remaining public beaches in Lapu Lapu City.
Why? Well, since I was a child, Vaño Beach has been a popular Sunday destination among locals. Before malls, cafes, and other modern establishments sprouted in the city, people head off to public beaches like these to have fun and cool off.
Except for the modernized cottages and the floating buoys, not much has changed. The sandy beach, the turquoise waters, the laughter of beachgoers, and the smell of grilled fish are all trapped in time.
Dogs don’t need anything expensive, complicated, or fancy to be happy. A day at the beach with the people they love, a nice and healthy meal, a long belly rub, an afternoon of running around the grass—that’s happiness for them. Dogs teach us that it’s the simple things that matter most.
Polly’s first outdoor adventure when she was a puppy barely larger than my hand was a relaxing afternoon at the beach. The memory of that afternoon was surely etched in her mind because we could actually see her strength coming back as she stepped on the sand.
Her old age and her sickness caught up with her; her small legs were too weak to do anything than a slow, staggered walk. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop her from stepping into the water. Just look at how happy she was! As Jonathan Swift once quipped, “Every dog must have his/her day.”
Throughout her life, Polly took great care of us. She gave us her heart, guarded our home, and lit our spirits. Now, it was our turn to render that extra love and care for her. Because she’s no longer able to eat or drink from a bowl, we had to feed her and administer medicines using a syringe.
Our little girl can no longer eat solid food, so we fed her diluted baby food. To counteract her weakness, we administered distilled water with glucose solution to replenish lost ions.
Polly taught us that we don’t need a lot of things to enjoy life. Just an earth pad on the sand, some sandwiches and chips, and a few ice-cold bottles of soda are fine with us. We talked about Polly’s past escapades, upcoming trips and adventures, and a few life advice for our teenage daughter.
Her smile never fails to amuse us. Look into the face of a dog, and you will see a degree of love, trust, and loyalty that is impossible to fathom.
Polly contemplates her life as a good dog—and as a part of our family. She may be suffering, but we think she’s happy and at peace. Deep within her heart, she knows she is a good girl, bringing a never-ending of love, fun, and happiness every day.
“The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.” – M.K. Clinton
A few hours later, we decided to head back to the city and to her next adventure. Because Polly was too weak to walk from a pier adjacent to Vaño Beach to the tricycle terminal at the other end, we carefully carried her like a baby.
Whoopee! A tricycle ride! Even though her eyesight is fading, we were pretty sure she never blinked to watch fantastic sights of everyday life.
We took another ride to reach the Magellan Shrine (Mactan Shrine), a memorial tower in honor of the famous Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan who paved the way for the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. It was on this spot where he was killed by chieftain Lapu Lapu.
Polly would have wanted to hop and prance at the grassy park beside the monument. But with her weakened condition, it was impossible for her. She simply enjoyed the peace and quiet of a pleasant Friday afternoon together with the family.
Tired after a happy day, she fell asleep rather quickly when we arrived home. Who wouldn’t? Sweetie recently washed her bed and her favorite blanket. They smelled like flowers!
The next day, neighborhood kids paid Polly a visit. Smiles abound, but we know that they’re crying inside. Polly has been their favorite dog and playmate in the neighborhood, and they’re sad to know that she will soon say goodbye. The kids made sure that their playmate gets plenty of love.
Growing weaker by the day, we decided to take her back to the vet so fluids and medication can be administered to her circulatory system via IV. Who knows? Perhaps she’ll have another chance in life.
We visited Polly the day after she was admitted as an in-patient. With IV-administered medication, she seemed to gain a bit of strength. Her eyes sparkled intensely with joy when she saw us. Feeling hopeful of a possible albeit partial recovery, we promised to take her back home the next day.
Little did we know that afternoon would be the last time we saw her alive. At around 11 PM on July 3, Polly died peacefully. We were utterly devastated by the news; however, we were also relieved and happy that her suffering from renal failure finally ended. Our beautiful dog was buried at my parent’s home garden where she can play for all eternity.
Before closing this tribute to our beloved pet, I would like to share a poem I wrote about her many years ago. I think this poem, more than anything else, expresses her love and devotion.
My master will come home soon
As assured as the light of a full moon
That’s why for most of the day, I’m sitting by the door,
Listening for my master’s footsteps on the floor.
When the windows let the sunshine through each day,
My tiny heart breaks, for I know my master will be going away.
But, oh no, I won’t—can’t—grumble and cry
Because if I will, I won’t have tasty food and wonderful toys to try.
His kind eyes open, and he gives me that heavenly morning smile
He gives me a hug, a gentle kiss, and holds me for a little while
A lot of cuddling and tenderness he brings,
Nuzzling under his chin, I am greater than all the queens
After his morning rituals and tasty breakfast,
He leaves the house, patting my furry head for last
I give a sad whimper and a tired sigh;
I hope he’ll come back ‘coz he forgot his silk tie.
I’m so troubled I can’t really play or eat
What if he’s crossing a busy road and he’d get hit?
If he goes out, I won’t know if he had his fill
Even if my tummy’d be empty, I’d give him my small meal!
What if someone would try to harm my good master?
I’m afraid; I won’t be there to readily fight that buster!
I pray, please keep my beloved master safe
Because without him, I’d be worse than a lonesome waif.
My dinner bowl is full of delicious, crunchy kibble,
If my master was here, he would have smiled seeing me nibble,
I’d wag my little tail, stick out my tongue, and make a funny face;
He’ll surely hug me, touch my wet nose, and we’d have a race.
Hours crawl away, but I’m all alone,
Even if there are people in my master’s home
Well, they play, feed, and chase me around,
But it would have been better if it was my master I found.
Am I in his mind when he’s busy at work?
Pray tell me before I finish biting this cork
I miss the belly rubs he gives me when I’m a good girl;
That will surely give my heart a delightful whirl.
I do not have anything—money or any material whim
(Well, if I do, I’d give myself a long-overdue hair trim)
But everything in me is his as long as I live;
I have my whole life and eternal love to give.
I miss my master really so,
But he’s coming home soon, I know
I’ll just sit or lie quietly by the door for long hours
I don’t want to miss him even if my sleepy head’s between my paws.
I’ll patiently wait for him just by here
Because I want to be the first when he hugs me dear
I can’t wait to hop and give him one of my charms,
Then I’ll find warmth and refuge in his loving arms.
We’ll miss you, Polly. Thank you for more than 12 years of love and fun. You took a part of our hearts with you. We love you, and your memories will always be cherished.