Gruber was born ³Patric² on January 15, 1994.
It says so on his papers. Since then, he¹s had
his tail clipped and his ears cropped. I remember
the latter experience, since I was with him on
the way to the doctor.

I recall how I sat in the front passenger side
of the car and held this Doberman pup¹s tiny
head in my lap. The cassette player was playing
the Gregorian Chants. Gruber looked up at me
from with round clear eyes. Within them I could
see his trust and contentment. He was barely a
year old. It made me feel terrible, knowing what
was in store for him.

After the operation, Gruber¹s ears were all bandaged up, and he was still heavily sedated. But not enough, I suppose, because whenever he stirred in his sleep, he¹d yelp from the pain of his stitches. I felt it as well. And I wish we had left his ears alone. Gruber recovered and soon he learned to play. As I eventually learned, he was very playful at heart. Even when he was grown, he enjoyed carrying broomsticks and rags and wheel chocks all over the place. He delighted in giving the family a good chase once and awhile. He did these things whenever he was told to go into his cage - which was where he went whenever a car would leave the garage. He wouldn¹t go in unless he had his rag or pail or block or broom. I loved him for his character.But for all his playfulness, Gruber had his vicious moments. I recall one afternoon when I had just arrived home from work. I was resting in my room trying to calm my system down. I suddenly heard this terrible growling outside in the garage. Soon it grew louder, and the snarling and barking sounded violent. Almost crazy. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my pants, all in one swift movement it seems. One of our maids rushed to the door, hysterical. From what I could make out, she said that Gruber was killing Bruno - one of the native dogs that lived with us as well.

When i rushed out of the house, I saw that Gruber had his jaw wrapped like a vice around the neck of Bruno. Bruno was on his back, legs sticking straight up in the air. When I rushed closer, I saw blood mixing with a pool of water which the maids had made in an attempt to separate the dogs (which never works, by the way). Another dog, named Lucky, looked so insignificant - he was biting Gruber in the hind leg but Gruber acted as if Lucky wasn¹t there. I kicked Gruber in the gut but he did not even notice it. His teeth held on, and I saw Bruno¹s eyes - they were so red and huge that they looked as though they were about to pop out of his skull. I decided to go for the direct approach and clamped my hands around Gruber¹s snout and pulled his jaw apart.When Bruno managed to wriggle free, I held Gruber tight. I made sure he didn¹t persue his Bruno any further. I saw that the maids had taken care of Lucky. It was then that I noticed that my fingers were covered in blood and saliva which leaked from Gruber¹s mouth. I led Gruber into his cage, and locked him in to cool off.

After checking on Bruno and seeing that he was fine, I returned to Gruber. I decided to bring him into the house. As I led him inside, I saw how much the fight took out of him. He was so exhausted that I had to carry him by the torso for support. Upon reaching the kitchen, he fell to the ground and lay there panting. In a way, I was a bit proud that he was able to take on those two dogs by himself.In his life, Gruber also met his lady love.Another Doberman named Ebony. She belonged to a friend of mine named Jay-jay. So one hot and humid Holy week, we agreed to introduce the two of them. I recall how Gruber barked at Jay-jay the minute he set eyes on him - only to stare slack-jawed silent when Ebony came into view. Jay-jay let Gruber whiff Ebony all around. It did not take long for Gruber¹s primal urges to kick in.The two of them mated during Holy Week. THE WHOLE OF HOLY WEEK. Everywhere Ebony went, there was Gruber trailing behind. You can imagine how much easier it was to get Gruber into his cage. All we had to do was call for Ebony.Sadly, Ebony was older than Gruber. She had puppies before. So when she finally gave birth, she killed some of her pups, and Jay-jay suspected that others were drowned when his grandmother force-fed them some milk. It was unintentional, I suppose. Simply the work of ignorance.

But Gruber and Ebony had their second rendezvous. And just like the last time, not all the pups survived. Jay-jay was able to save two. One girl and one boy.In some ways, Gruber had filled his life. He fought his little wars, and felt pain. He was able to love, and he was loved. Even when the day finally arrived that his body would fall victim by something we could not understand.It all started when he refused to eat. Eventually, Gruber became so thin that his ribs showed under his skin. We called the local doctor to check on him and she gave Gruber some shots. It worked at first. Gruber would taste his food again. But alas, he lost interest again. In the week that followed, we called the doctor again. She checked Gruber for heartworms. Looking under her microscope at a sample of Gruber¹s blood, she said the blood showed negative for heartworms. She commented that Gruber looked as if he had been neglected. She said that perhaps he needed to find a mate. My father joked, asking if the doctor could tell all that from looking in her microscope.

That was April 2. It was my brother George¹s birthday. From that day Œtil the end of the month, Gruber¹s condition worsened. In addition to the loss of appetite, Gruber¹s forehead began to twitch. It was as if he was having some sort of muscle spasm.
Seeing him so thin made us worry so much so that we brought him to the doctor right away. She couldn¹t tell what was wrong with Gruber. I heard that she was afraid of Dobermans after being recently bitten by one. So she advised us to get a second opinion. She sent us to the University of the Philippines veterinary medical hospital.A Dra. Tessa Ressurreccion was on hand. She checked Gruber¹s blood and weight and everything else. She advised that we have his blood checked at a nearby Children¹d hospital for any liver and lung problems. She prescribed some pills for Gruber to take.The next day, I picked up the results from the hospital. I brought it to Dra. Ressurreccion (I¹ll call her Tessa from this point on). She evaluated the report and said that Gruber had some microscopic something or other in his liver so she prescribed some more medicine.The next few days blessed us with the sight of Gruber eating once again. We knew he was on the road to recovery! But then something new happened. Gruber¹s jaw began to jitter, as though he were shivering. A strange thing to see on a hot summer day.We brought Gruber to Tessa once again. It saddened me very much to see Gruber this way. His once clear bright eyes were now encrusted with muck. His powerful jaw giving in to a nervous jitter. His once energy-filled body was reduced to one that was drained by fatigue. What was going wrong?Tessa had a name for it. She called it distemper.

My brother John looked up the word in an old German Shepherd guide book, and it described distemper as ³a killer disease² and that there was no cure for it. Was it any comfort that this book was published in 1965? I can¹t say that it was. Nobody has found a cure for cancer yet.³It¹s almost impossible for a dog to get distemper when he¹s had his shots.² Tessa kept repeating. I guess the ³almost² was Gruber. We came up with theories: Perhaps the vaccine used on Gruber was taken from a poor batch. Maybe gruber was genetically susceptible to diseases. Maybe he was already sickly when he got his shots as a pup. Of the many theories, we couldn¹t tell for sure which was the right one.In the last couple of weeks, I have sat next to Gruber, often with John. We tried to nurse Gruber with all the medication and advise that Tessa had given us. At times, Gruber seemed to get better, only to take a turn for the worse. Our hopes would rise and fall along with him.

It was last Sunday when gruber surprised us all. He managed to clamber to his feet, though his le_gs wobbled from the lack of strength. Then for thirty minutes straight, he did something which we had not seen him do in some time. Gruber ran. Sure he wasn¹t fast. Sure he kept falling. Sure we had to constantly run behind him, supporting his hind legs incase he wobbled off balance. But it was certainly miraculous to see the life in his uncooperative body trying to break loose.After his run, Gruber laid down. And we all wondered how he managed to do what he did. Could it have been the glucose Powder we had been giving him recently? Or was it all Gruber¹s will power that had propelled him to move? Both perhaps?Whatever it was, it was to be Gruber¹s last triumphant run. He never stood up again. His head spasms, which had disappeared, had returned. And it was worse than before. With each clench of his brow, his eyes would turn up and be pulled back into his sockets.

Feeding Gruber had become a problem again. He no longer had the strength to eat. Tessa suggested that if we were going to spoon feed Gruber, we could try using baby food. John and I tried it out and succeeded in getting some of the stuff down into Gruber¹s body. That evening, however, Gruber would go so limp that we couldn¹t feed him without doubting whether he was even swallowing the food or not. Things were becoming quite scary. We wondered if he has slipping into a coma or was paralized. We wondered because we now had to carry him into the house.Gruber usually cried in the middle of the night. Sometimes in the morning. We wondered why. Was it because of the virus in his head? Or maybe he wanted to urinate or defecate. I remember thinking this because I would come to him in the morning and see that he had stopped crying. Because I would see him wet with his own pee. I felt strangely embarrassed for him. Some time later, I saw that he had also defecated on himself. As I looked at poor Gruber¹s eyes, I was now ashamed for giving importance to something as stupid as being ashamed. But since Gruber could no longer move, it was not long until he stopped crying altogether. Then he would urinate and defecate freely, oblivious to what he was doing. With all these symptoms, the evening of the 29th was the toughest to get through. I wondered in my sleep if Gruber would still be with us in the morning.He was, but then again, he was not. It seemed to us that there was no reviving Gruber. He was in perpetual slumber, unconscious to everything around him.

My father suggested that we owed it to Gruber to let him go peacefully. After getting in touch with Dra. Hernandez at the U.P. vet med hospital (Tessa was not there), and finding out that our local vet was not around, John and I brought Gruber to U.P.John would later comment that it seemed ironic that he and I would be doing this. We were the ones who brought Gruber to our home those two years ago. And now it was John and I who was taking him to his new home.When we got to U.P., we lowered Gruber from the car by way of a large piece of canvas under his body. He looked as if he were asleep in a hammock.A Vet-Med student weighed Gruber and later handed me a sheet of paper. It was a waiver stating that we condoned putting Gruber to sleep. I passed it on to John, telling him that I did not have the heart to sign it. John took it, and quietly filled it out.There was a period of waiting that seemed to stretch too long. Too long for me to sit next to Gruber and watch his weak body heave with each labored breath - knowing that soon he would be gone.

I walked down to the end of the corridor and gazed out at the dry field that belonged to a farmer next door. I looked at the small hut that probably belonged to him. I looked at the two children who stood right outside the hut, both of them staring at something in their hands. I looked across the road beside the field where two men rested under the shade of a tree. It was siesta time. I looked at the tree right outside the barred window I was gazing out of. I looked upon the leaves and white flowers which had fallen to ground. When I ran out of things to look at, I looked at stories in my head. But in hy mind I kept seeing Gruber. All the memories I had of him. All the real stories that he and I were a part of. And I tried so hard to keep the tears from welling up inside me. The thought that this was the end of all my Gruber stories. I felt like the biggest coward in the world. I should be next to Gruber in his final moments, but I just couldn¹t go near him.

When I turned around for what seemed like the seventh time since I left Gruber, I saw Dra. Hernandez carrying a syringe. This was it, and I found myself rushing over to Gruber.Dra. Hernandez had a Vetmed student hold Gruber¹s head. Gruber was laying on his side, so when the student lifted his head, Gruber began to sputter and his mouth began to froth. A clear yellowish fluid spilled from Gruber¹s mouth. It was such a terrible thing to see that I nearly forgot all my thoughts about death and dying. I put my left hand on Gruber¹s nose. I figured his nose was akin to a person¹s hand. I brushed my fingers along his snout, telling Gruber that he would be okay.Dra. Hernandez inserted the syringe into Gruber¹s right front leg. I watched as the contents entered the vein. I could swear I heard Gruber let out a tiny cry. We were told that Gruber would go in five to ten minutes. But in the second that the syringe was removed, I could see no breathing within Gruber¹s body. Dra. Hernandez took out her stethoscope and placed it against Gruber¹s chest.³He¹s gone.² she said finally.

Gruber was laid to rest in a field under a giant tree¹s shade. It had been cloudy the whole day, except when Gruber was being buried. The clouds were surprisingly full and white. The sun was out, yet its bright hot sting could not be felt. This was because of the cool steady and continuous breeze which blew across the field.John figured that this was for all those days that Gruber had wanted to jump up and run but could not. Now Gruber ran with the wind.