As much as I try not to share too much of my personal life on the blog, as I tend to be very private, this is probably one of the hardest, most personal pieces I have had to write.
Have you a dog in Heaven, Lord?
Is there room for just one more?
Cause my little dog died today;
he’ll be waiting at your door.
Please take him into Heaven, Lord.
And keep him there for me,
just feed him, pet him, love him, Lord,
that’s all he’ll ask of Thee.
I lost the love of my life, my Japanese Spitz I named Wiggy (a.k.a. Mr. Wiggles Fluffybottom), last July 28 to complications from internal bleeding. He had just turned three years old the month before. He was a rescue that Jericho had picked off the street (and when I say this, I mean Jericho stumbled home drunk one night to discover the little thing had come in through the gate with him and into his house), and after meeting the little fella who we guessed was just around three months old – I had fallen in love with him immediately and commandeered the little ball of fluff. Jericho and I had at first, taken turns in taking care of him until I moved back to Las Piñas as I felt the need to be there to take care of him full time.
I keep telling people how he came into my life at just the right time. I had been battling with depression with work for a long while, and was very sickly. I felt defeated and just about ready to give up on life, until he came along. This small, scrawny puppy taught me what unconditional love looked like, he taught me forgiveness, and he taught me patience – valuable life lessons I don’t think I would have ever learned without him.
He had a tough start to life, going in and out of veterinary clinics, as he was a sickly little puppy. Aside on having being operated on twice for anal prolapse, he had been battling canine ehrlichiosis – a sickness of the blood brought about by infected tick bites – early on. Jericho and I shared him and took turns caring for him when we could, and he went through a bunch of different medication, IVs, rounds of steroids, and injections, and we were both there, caring for him, loving him, and helping him overcome his illness ’til he grew to become a very sweet, fluffy adult dog.
We would take him everywhere with us when we could, and he would share our food (he was quite the foodie, too!), while we tried put some meat into that frail little body. I think he thought of himself as a little boy, always sitting at the table with us, nibbling on what we would give him aside from his bowl of dog food, and sleeping next to me in bed sharing my pillow. He was a very friendly, happy little guy, and was content to just see Jericho and I around, or sleep on our lap in the car while we went about our everyday lives.
He loved running in the park, exploring the nearby trees and bushes, stealing my spot on the bed, and roasted chicken. He was the first one to greet me in the morning (gently licking my face) and the last thing I’d remember before drifting off to sleep was being fully aware of the warm, fluffy body that snuggled up next to me, already asleep and lightly snoring. I couldn’t imagine my world without him in it.
A week before Wiggy passed, he had began to lose his appetite – the ehrlichiosis was back. We had put him on Doxycycline along with vitamins K and B12 to help boost his energy and blood production, but no matter what we did, Jericho and I could feel him slowly fading away. He would collapse and lose control over his bodily functions, and towards the end would even have a hard time bending his knees. There were bruises across his body from internal bleeding. A few days before he passed he had started to pee blood, which alarmed us, but what the vet said was totally normal – he needed to pee it out and to trust that the meds would do their job. We went to another vet for a second opinion and he said the same thing. It just didn’t feel right.
As an intuitive that’s fairly new to working with energy, I could feel his waning. He would snuggle up onto my chest and I would feel his aura – it was a pale red that only extended out a few centimeters from his fur, it was too close to the body. I told myself he would get better. I thought, if I willed it enough, he would get better. The next morning I woke up to his cold nose touching my cheek, his way of waking me up so he could snuggle in bed with me. When I lifted him up onto the bed, he brought his snout right next to my neck, and I felt his hot breath on me as he smelled me, taking as much of my scent in as he could, and slowly drifting off to sleep. It felt like an hour of me holding that warm ball of fur in my arms, while I took in his smell, the softness of his fur, memorizing his face as he slept. “You can fight this, little one. I can’t imagine life without you.”, I kept telling him.
I thought, maybe all he needed was a day to rest, and I wanted to keep him comfortable and left the a/c open for him before I had leave for work. The last thing I did was kiss him on the head, telling him I’d see him later when I got back, and gave him one of my pillows to rest on on the floor to keep him comfortable. Later that afternoon, I got a call from Jericho saying that Wiggy had passed away – he had thrown up more blood and when Jericho came by to check on him he was gone. In that instant I felt like my world had crumbled around me. I had lost my best friend.
After hanging up the phone, all I knew was that that last thing I’d want was to have my baby buried in somebody’s empty lot somewhere, so after googled pet cemeteries, and among the handful of choices available, picked out Pet Valley in Silang, Cavite, and had Jericho call them to arrange for a pet cremation and if they could pick Wiggy up. He got in touch with Pau – the guy in charge of pick ups and the all around supervisor – who was very polite and accommodating, and scheduled the pick up for 10 o’clock that night.
I was in a daze on the way home, I didn’t want to believe it was real. It was rush hour in Makati and traffic was supposed to be terrible, but for some reason the stop signs didn’t take as long and I got home after an hour. Jericho opened the door of my condo and I saw my little one lying down on the floor, his eyes slightly open, with a peaceful expression on his face. I remember stroking his body and kissing his head, telling him it was alright to go and that he was such a good boy. Pau came by an hour later, and out of sympathy for us, offered that we go with him to Pet Valley and although they were only open ’til 5 o’clock, would do the cremation service for us that night so we could take him home right away.
Instead of having Pau put Wiggy in his van, we decided to wrap him up in a blanket instead and place him in the car with us as we drove up to Silang, Cavite. What seemed like forever took us to the border of Tagaytay, and saw the big green sign on the side of the highway – that also read Buddhist Meditation Center and Lumbini Institute – pointing the way. We followed Pau’s little green van and the blue signs onto rough roads until we reached Pet Valley’s gate. It was around 11 o’clock at night when we got there, and at the time I couldn’t appreciate how tranquil the place was – with lots of green trees, bushes, and grass. There were geese happily waddling along the little hills, a two dogs curious about the new visitors followed us about, and a cat with a crooked tail tried to comfort me by turning my lap into its pillow. It actually is quite a lovely place, especially in the day time – like a little pet park.
Pet Valley Park and Crematory is a 5,000-square-meter memorial in an uphill area of Silang that is owned by Dr. Manny Reyes, a veterinarian who specialized in farm animals. Although he is based in Laguna most of the time, he communicates with Pau with regard to the rates for the pet burial or cremation packages, which is dependant on the species and the weight of your pet.
When I came back to visit and saw him again, out of curiosity I asked Pau what the weirdest thing he ever buried was. Aside from cats and dogs, bunnies and hamsters are common, although he has cremated an iguana once, but how the weirdest one was probably when they cremated a goldfish.
There are a few packages you can choose from, the standard package for cremation being a little cardboard box for the urn with a memorabilia of your pet’s paw print and some of his fur. Wiggy was a 9-pound Japanese Spitz, and Dr. Manny quoted a price of Php 7,500 for his standard cremation package. The urns get fancier and fancier, which is something you can always ask to upgrade to if you’d like.
We could have also opted to bury him, which would include a coffin for his internment, a headstone, and a columbary for when they move his remains after one year, which was priced at Php 5,000. The memorabilia would have an extra charge.
I just wanted to be able to take Wiggy’s remains home with me and stuck to the cremation package. I don’t want to have to go all the way to what would be almost Tagaytay to visit him.
Jericho and I went back to Pet Valley around a week later, to pick up the blanket that we wrapped Wiggy in and to personally say thank you to all the staff that helped us that sad evening. We walked around the pet cemetery, and marveled at how many pet owners have come through the gate to lay their loved ones to rest. In a way it was a comfort to see that we weren’t the only ones that loved our furbaby so much.
Bell-shaped headstones dotted the little hills on which the pets’ picture, their names and ages are engraved. There was a man-made brook at the bottom of the hillside, and I watched the dragonflies dance about, taking in the serenity of the place.
After a year of being buried, the owners are invited back for the internment, and the bones of your furbabies are moved into a columbary that can fit up to six pets. There is a pet vault locator that works as a guide for those who want to visit, so surnames starting with A & B were in the “Adventurous” columbary, C & D were in the “Affectionate” pet vault, E & F were in the columbary titled “Bestfriend”, and so on.
There is also a mass grave for pets on the property called Coco & Friends, which is a good option for those who just want a simple and decent burial for their furry friends. After asking Pau why it was named Coco and friends, we found out it was actually named after one of Dr. Manny’s client’s pet, who was so friendly, she’d let everyone into the owner’s home – even burlgars!
Going back to that fateful night, we said our final goodbyes to Wiggy in the viewing room, where his body was lovingly and respectfully laid out for us to see. Pau left us in peace and gave us as much time as we needed to be with our baby one last time. I couldn’t help but think just how peaceful he looked just lying there, and could feel the tears rushing down my face when I realized I wouldn’t be seeing him again for a long time. Kissing him for the last time, we called Pau back, and he has us snip a little bit of Wiggy’s hair for us to keep for the memorabilia along with his paw print that they had already gotten in clay.
I felt my heart break when I walked over to the little window that allowed you to watch as they placed my best friend into the incinerator and started slowly lighting it before covering up the window for them to continue doing their job. I was distraught and inconsolable. I would never be able to touch his silky head again and hold him close. He wouldn’t be there to wake me up in the mornings nor would he be there to greet me when I come home from work. My bed would be empty without him. I think I was left quietly crying for most of the night, waiting for Pau to call us to tell us it was over and done with.
But when Pau handed me over Wiggy’s ashes, something strange happened. I felt a sense of peace. I knew he was ok on the other side, and he was once again the happy bundle of fur I had gotten to know and love in what seemed like forever. I was very appreciative of all the extra effort everyone at Pet Valley had done to respect and honor our grief and our furbaby. We went home at around one o’clock in the morning, and I fell asleep in the car cradling the little box that contained Wiggy’s ashes while Jericho drove us home.
Not everyone can understand or sympathize with just how devastating it is to lose a pet you’ve taken care of, nurtured through sickness and health, and loved no matter what. For many of us responsible pet owners, it feels like losing a child. When a loved one passes away, you do everything you can to honor their memory and give them a dignified send off, which is something Pet Valley gave us when Wiggy passed on, and something I am very grateful for. I still miss and grieve for my little fluffy companion, but the intuitive in me can still see him around. He leaves his fur everywhere, and I would be surprised to see it on top of a piece of roasted chicken or on my pillow before I go to sleep. Every now and then I would feel him next to me on the bed or hear him by the door. Goodbyes are only temporary, and I look forward to seeing him again when its my turn to go, as all of us must one day.
Pet Valley Park & Crematory is located at Pooc 2, 4118 Silang, Cavite and are open from 9am to 5pm daily. For inquiries and pick-ups, please contact +63 917 545 5945.