Digong and two of his siblings were just puppies when they were left at the gates of my partner, Mark’s farm in Bantayan Island. Sadly, it is very common in the Philippines, especially in rural areas, to leave pets roaming freely, and to get rid of their babies once they give birth. So, these pups were not in the best of health. The people on the farm tried to provide for the puppies, but only Digong survived and became healthy. He was named after our current President Duterte, who came into office at the time the puppies were found.
Even when he was a puppy, Digong showed very high intelligence, and as he grew older, he proved himself an asset. He had a very good memory and created jobs for himself on the farm. He chased away stray dogs, cats, and rats to prevent them from coming inside the property. Also, he protected the house by making sure only family could go inside. If a stranger tried to walk up to the house, he would snarl and snap at them to make them retreat. He followed Mark everywhere on the farm to make sure he always had a friend close by. And, after observing everything, he learned to catch hens that had escaped their cages without hurting them. This made it much easier to put the hens back in their allocated areas. He was definitely the star at the farm!
Digong always remembered people. At the time, I was able to visit only twice a year, but he would cry excitedly and become very happy when I arrived. He didn’t like to go inside the house, but he loved to hang out at the patio and sleep on our slippers. At night, when he wanted to move to a different place to sleep, he would take one of our slippers with him. It was the cutest little act of love.
A self-made alpha dog, Digong never let the other dogs boss him around, and yet he played gently with all the farm-owned pets, including some adopted cats. He had a sweet temperament towards our family, but he still had a very serious side at times. I think everybody appreciated his unique personality.
Last year, Mark went through a long illness and had to move back to our hometown, which is a huge distance from the farm. As months went by, our staff on the farm informed us that Digong was hardly eating and did not act like his usual self anymore. Mark went all the way to the farm to pick him up, and he was so happy that he immediately started eating again. He was brought back to the city, where I had him admitted for monitoring and treatment for a few days. He recovered quickly and was taken to our city home, where he is now thriving.
Digong has changed so much since moving to the city. He has become even more affectionate and loves being treated like a baby. He cries joyfully when I arrive, and mourns when he sees me driving away. He now receives hugs and kisses everyday, and enjoys being close to everyone he knows. He has a new set of jobs now – he keeps rats away from the egg storage room, and makes sure strangers don’t go inside our gate; he guards the eggs well and barks and snaps at people who try to take them. He also loves accompanying us during our bike rides within the village. In quiet moments, Digong sleeps at our feet, sometimes with a paw on one of our legs.
I can’t help but appreciate how amazing dogs are. They have their own personalities, quirks, and expressions that are very human-like. I believe that dogs truly love their people more than anything in the world, and some dogs find wonderful ways to be of service to their family. We are so lucky to have this relationship with Digong, and we look forward to giving him a long and happy life.