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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
was April 2. It was my brother George¹s birthday.
From that day til 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.