Love indeed comes unexpectedly and from an unexpected somebody.
In my case, I learned what pure love is from a dog named Mango.
Mango is a rescued dog of Save Animals of Love and Light (Save ALL Inc.) who crossed the rainbow bridge on Nov. 30, 2019 after a three-month battle with cancer.
He was one of the 20 dogs on death row called the Payatas pound of Quezon City who our original group Efforts to Save 20 Dog on Death Row saved in December, 2013.
For one long week, we worked to get them out and ended up saving more.
Aside from the 20 dogs on death row, we also got two mama dogs who gave birth to six pups each and two kittens. In all, we rescued 34 animals from euthanasia or from being put to sleep.
That was almost seven years ago. Our first rescue.
For seven years, Mango was an integral part of my life. He taught me many lessons on love and giving, on love and receiving.
He is an asong pinoy or aspin who is considered as having no breed at all. But this aspin and many other rescued aspins showed me they have so much class in the way they conduct themselves. They know how to respect and love people as they exert all efforts to understand humans and obey our commands, they are fiercely loyal as they would always protect their humans, and they are considerate towards their kind, helping the pups adjust to the world of “adults” and even leaving some food in the bowl for the skinny or seemingly weaker dogs.
Strangers would label Mango as aggressive because of his growls and fierce-looking eyes. But with us and for us, he only has smiles, wagging tails and so much love in his eyes.
We believe he grew up on the streets alone. Thus it always took a long time for him to warm up to new humans. For how could he trust humans if he had to scavenge for food hurriedly because humans might throw stones or items at him to shoo him away from garbage bins? How could he trust humans knowing there are humans who catch dogs? How could he trust humans who hurt dogs while catching them? How could he trust humans who never showed love or kindness for him in his hours of hunger and thirst?
When he was with us, we simply told him again and again that he was already safe and that we love him. We hugged him and kissed him as often as we could. We gave him good food, a bath, denta stix and chew toys. We made him feel and know he was a member of a family, one he never had growing up on the streets.
In return, he would always protect us. No one could come near me unless I told him it's okay.
He also made me feel loved always just by looking at me. You can see so much love in his eyes and in his smile. It is enough to recharge me, to help me keep going amidst the challenges of rescuing dogs like him, to make me feel I am doing the right thing.
When he was diagnosed with cancer of the sebaceous gland last year, we fought together to beat the disease.
But when I saw him losing weight fast and having difficulty standing up, I told him, "I'll be okay, Mango. You don't have to protect me anymore. "
When he was getting weaker, I stayed with him as often as I could. I would lie beside him and read him affirmations, and tell him over and over the story of how we planned their rescue and the day we rescued him. He liked this story so much as he would always turn his head and look at me more intently when I narrated how we got a hold order from city hall so that their lives would be spared, how we worked to get funds to pay for the adoption fees, and how we looked for and talked to so many people to transport them and to have them adopted to give them good homes.
Then I would kiss him and whisper, "Go to the Light, baby. I love you and I will miss you so much, but I don't want you to be in pain anymore. You can be my angel and protector even when you're in Heaven. Go, baby. See you in the clouds and in my dreams."
One late afternoon, he struggled to get up, made it somehow, and looked at me. I came closer, hugged and kissed him, then I told him over and over again, "I love you, baby. Thank you for coming into my life. Please go to the Light. It's okay to leave. I’ll be happy knowing you are free of suffering, Mango. "
For one last time, he looked at me. Then he closed his eyes. There was no last gasp of breath. He just closed his eyes.
For a few minutes, I just sat there beside him. Then I acted as if he was just sleeping. I went around the place, occasionally looking back at him and kept myself busy by clearing the table and picking up stuff.
I knew he was gone when he closed his eyes but I waited. For about 40 minutes.
Then we heard the cries of the other dogs. Other rescued dogs with us-- his siblings --- howled. They were saying goodbye to their Kuya Mango.
Today, when I am beset with challenges related to Save ALL, I'll say to Mango,"If you can hear me, please ask for help there in heaven for Save ALL and your rescue siblings, Mango. Nanay needs help."
Sounds crazy? We talk to dead relatives, telling them we hope they are okay, asking them for help for our woes, right? Why not do the same with our dead pets?
To me, the connection is never lost. I talk to a dead relative or a dead pet when I remember them because of a tree, a dish, a sound, a song.
And when I feel down and helpless amidst the challenges and concerns, I talk to them, both the human and animal loved ones who have crossed.
Then I would feel I am not alone. I would feel and remember the warmth of their love in my heart.
The sadness has ebbed. I feel gratitude more than sadness these days. I am grateful they loved me, allowed me to love them, and our love for each other keeps us connected to this day.
I will forever be grateful to a rescued dog named Mango who showed me and showered me with pure love. Run free and be happy in heaven, baby. Someday, I’ll be there to tell you your rescue story once again.
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