I used to have a terrible fear of dogs. Back in fifth grade, a dog bit my hand so badly that the bone showed. My neighbor and classmate at our apartment row on Mabini Street had insisted then that I let their friendly bulldog lick my hand. That was a bitter first lesson on trust, as it earned me a daily injection of duck’s embryo at my back for two weeks. Since then, I have vowed never to go near a dog again.
In the years that followed, I had dog trauma while almost all my friends naturally turned up to be, of all things, dog owners/lovers. House visits for listening to records and soirees were nightmares, especially when the house pet was present. I always felt that they smelled my fear as I was always the first one to be checked out, a lick here and a smell there, while I froze on the spot. Once, a Doberman slowly approached me as I sat glued to the sofa. Then, as though to mock me, it lifted its head slowly on my lap and dozed off.
Looking at dogs from a safe distance during those school years, I have resigned all hopes of ever having one. All because of one lousy bite and 14 injections. I guess the growing frustration slowly built up inside because one night, from out of the blue, I decided that I was really tired of being deathly scared of dogs.
It happened during my singing days in Manila back in the late 70s. T’was the age of Aquarius and rock-and-roll and our generation was still hung up on Woodstock. Anyway, the place we stayed in was adjacent to a large old stone house that was guarded by five or six ferocious dogs. During the day, the dogs were in their cages, so it was safe to pass and use the front gate.
However come evenings, they were let out as security. Since our gigs finished past midnight, our alternative route away from the front gate was through the backdoor of a 24-hour pharmacy beside the stone house, and it entailed that we climb a makeshift ladder up a wall down to our residence. One night, having been tired of this set-up, I thought I wasn’t going to be cowed anymore by my perceived devils at the gates. So, feeling like Don Quixote before his roaring windmills, I shifted my guitar case to my left hand (as a shield), pulled out my belt and boldly entered through the front gate.
Had a housemate (who was friends with my four-legged tormentors) not come out to my rescue, 14 injections would not have been enough for my war wounds. “What the hell were you thinking?” he had asked, but I could not anymore remember what I had said during that fateful night. All I could recall feeling was this, an overwhelming sense I had finally won and conquered my childhood fear. And it has been that ever since. All doggies better watch out.
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