MY family’s beloved brown pet mongrel with a black nose first appeared at our gate with a broken leg in September 1994. I nursed him to recovery by adding pounded calcium tablet to his food for a couple of days. Thereafter he kept coming back to spend his time under the coconut tree.
Before long, JJ became a part of our family. He lived indoors, sometimes secretly sleeping on the sofa. Secretly because we forbade him to do so but he would jump on it when no one was at home or during the night (although I occasionally caught him enjoying the warmth of the sofa, upon going downstairs early in the morning or when I returned home).
He wouldn’t climb up the stairs without our permission, however.
And it was amazing that JJ refrained from pooing or peeing in the garden, even without our training him, other than on rare occasions when he had diarrhoea.
We watched TV together, with one of his ears listening to Eu Gene’s movements in mummy’s tummy.
When Eu Gene was born, JJ lay under the crib to guard him, and he would growl whenever visitors came too near to see the baby.
JJ watched Eu Gene grow up, and they became close companions and playmates. In the next few weeks, we reluctantly let JJ live outside – in the porch area and garden – due to concerns about hygiene for our young baby.
JJ learnt some commands to fetch the tennis ball and cloth to play tug-of-war with me. He also knew how to turn his body when I asked him to, during his baths. He responded to the instructions of “where’s the ball?”, “where’s the cloth?”, “turn”, “sit” and “up”.
We fed JJ with bananas, carrots, rambutans, cucumbers, apples and even durians. And were delighted to see him enjoying those fruits and vegetables.
Whenever I cracked my right index finger loudly against my left palm, JJ knew that was the signal for him to return from the field. He would always answer my “call”. (He probably would turn in his grave if I did that now).
He also would get up from his slumber to greet me on my return even when I was still many houses away as he recognised the sound of my car and motorcycle, alerting mum and Eu Gene at the same time.
To blunt his sharp claws and for some exercise, he ran behind my motorcycle – with Eu Gene sitting in front, legs resting in the basket.
Once, during our evening walk, he bravely fought off a Dalmatian which suddenly sprang out from a few doors away and attacked me, although he was too late to prevent the other dog from viciously sinking two teeth into my right thigh.
JJ liked to hop onto the car’s back seat for rides but suffered motion sickness, so I had to clean up his vomit on a few occasions.
He settled well when we moved to a new home.
Unfortunately, he died on Oct 10,2009. He was taken seriously ill shortly after eating some commercial dog food given by our neighbour. Twelve-year-old Eu Gene cried the most as he lay his head on JJ’s motionless body, and then instinctively cut a tuft of JJ’s neck fur for keeps.
I buried him outside our main gate on the same night after returning from our solemn dinner.
His collar, tennis balls, bath towel and a tuft of fur were kept as memorabilia till today. They were not washed, in order to retain his special scent.
JJ, thanks for being part of our family, and for the happy times and wonderful memories. We fondly remember you on your 10th anniversary.
A dog is a man’s best friend, so they say – and it’s true.
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