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Puppy, Bravo and Junior

Bravo was the mongrel son of Puppy and this white askal bitch who used to be such a fixture on campus back when Lolo Brother – I use the term with much affection – was the President of this school. Puppy – now that would be as stark a contradiction as there ever was as far as dog names went. So he was – indeed – a little puppy when he first came to live with the Brothers. But he did grow to become this huge cumbersome dog as pure-bred German Shepherds rather tend to do; and he continued to be called Puppy.

Now Whitey – Puppy’s wife, as we thought of her – was as small as puppy was big. How they ever made out, please do not ask me. Between them, they made dozens upon dozens of tiny mongrels, many of which the Brothers eventually gave away.

They kept one to live with them – and he was named Bravo. He had the coloration of a German Shepherd, that much was apparent. But as he grew, it became apparent that he would not have the stature of his pure-bred sire.

Bravo had a brother in the school – although the latter was an adopted son of the security personnel and lived among them. I do not remember if he was ever formally christened. Everyone simply referred to him as Junior. He was as white as Bravo was black – having apparently inherited Whitey’s pigmentation – and he was somewhat bigger than his brother.

Even as a young dog, Bravo had a bit of an attitude. So, alright… Perhaps, he was entitled to it because he was, after all, the Brother President’s very own dog. But as Lolo Brother used to always lovingly say to those who cared to listen, “I did not adopt him; he adopted me!”

There are dogs who like to play behind while their masters walked ahead. Bravo was the opposite; he liked to walk ahead while the Brother President followed. This was all well and good to those na may atraso kay Brother. The sight of Bravo turning the corridor’s corner was always the warning that Brother was not far behind.

Now, of course, if one had no atraso, one could even whistle to Bravo and probably exchange a few pleasantries when Brother came along. Sometimes, Bravo would come ambling towards you as if to give you a cursory once-over. He seldom came with his tail wagging as though he was pleased to see you. If anything, he always looked like he was approaching to sniff suspiciously at you.

Of course, in a manner of speaking, it was – perhaps – even a compliment for him to sniff at you at all. He would just as often brush past you as though you were not even there!

Sometimes, Brother would laughingly say that he suspected Bravo thought the school belonged to him. There was this one time when no less than Erap, then President of the Republic, arrived to attend some externally-organized affair at the gym. Midway through the event, Brother came in for a look-see. And, of course, Bravo went along with him…

Feeling right at home, Bravo went right ahead to the front of the gym and even ascended the stage as though it was the most perfectly natural thing for him to do. Aside from Erap, there were some other political figures onstage – so, naturally, Erap’s presidential guards were upset that a dog got through the security cordon.

When they tried to get rid of him, it was the turn of Lolo Brother to get upset. To him, Bravo was simply investigating who had come to visit; he was, after all, right at home where he was. The next day, a picture of Bravo onstage made the front page of one of the national newspapers.

I can go on forever with anecdotes about Bravo; but let me just relate here that there was one incident that, Brother loved to tell, cemented his bond with his dog. There was this one night when Bravo went missing; and the Brothers looked all over for him. When he was eventually found, he had this gaping machete-inflicted wound across his body.

From what I can recall, he probably strayed outside the school grounds and caught the attention of some kanto boys who thought they would help themselves to free pulutan. At least, that is how I recall it; and how he got away, I do not believe I was ever told.

Bravo, an intuitive dog if there ever was one, returned the care and attention he received from Lolo Brother by declaring himself the latter’s very own – or the other way around, if you look at it from another perspective. The saddest sight was Bravo chasing after Brother if, say, the latter had to go on a trip to somewhere. Sometimes, it was best for him to just sneak out without letting Bravo know he was leaving.

Lolo Brother had to leave the school after his term ended; and Bravo was left behind to continue living with the other Brothers in the community. After the former died in an accident a few years back, and on the day he was to be laid to rest at the Novitiate grounds just behind the school, I saw Bravo outside the Office of the Brother President in an extremely agitated condition.

He was desperately scratching at the door, as if begging to be allowed inside. It was exactly as he used to behave when his former master used to hold office inside and he wanted to be let in. His behavior gave me the creeps; yet, I found the whole scene somehow quite touching.

I was just told this afternoon that Bravo is still alive – he must be in his twilight years, though. The few times I would see him after the Lolo Brother left the school, he always seemed testy. If he used to be haughty when Brother used to be around, he became downright unapproachable after Brother left.

Meanwhile, there was the other dog – Junior. Bravo’s brother was well-taken care of by the security personnel, who took turns feeding him with fare – I suppose – given away by the canteen. Compared to Bravo, Junior was always good-natured. His favorite tambayan was the College Lobby, and although he would occasionally bark agitatedly when somebody walked or drove in who was not quite up to his liking, he was actually totally harmless.

Already a favorite with the security personnel, it was not uncommon for a student – elementary, high school or college – to stop and stroke his head and neck as he lounged on the lobby tiles. He so loved the attention! His tail was always wagging in the manner that indicated that he was glad to see you – in stark contrast to Bravo’s often haughty, aristocratic demeanor.

Junior was, needless to say, totally plebian. Although I knew he was sometimes given baths, as far as I was concerned, he was just as fine gusgusin! I do not think Bravo ever minded, but I always had so much more affection for Junior. While Bravo was the Brother President’s dog, Junior – well, he was everyone’s dog!

I, myself, loved to stop by and tickle him between his ribs. Then he would start to kick in that manner dogs do when you tickled them. You may call it laughing with their feet!

In fact, although we never really got bonded the same way Lolo Brother and Bravo were, I still could get Junior to come to me by merely whistling. If he realized that I was walking towards the field or some place else, he would saunter on ahead of me, looking back once in a while as though egging me to walk a little faster. How do you explain to a dog that he is a dog and you are human? And that he has four legs when you only have two?

My fondest memories of Junior would be – where else – at the football field. On the rare occasions that Lolo Brother passed by the field with Bravo, Junior – in most probability – was also part of the walkabout. While Bravo would be inspecting some lunggâ at the ends of the field, I could always coax Junior to come running towards me with a whistle even if I was playing.

A funny sight that made: a dog running in the middle of the field while scrimmage was going on. Even funnier was if he started to chase after the ball. That never failed to draw laughter from everyone.

I just realized when I decided to write this story that I have not seen Junior for quite sometime. I must remember to ask about him tomorrow; and I would be extremely sad to learn that he had passed away. Bravo, I was told, has been adopted by a friend of the Brothers. I hope somebody has done the same with Junior.

The Lolo Brother used to ask, with a gleam in his eyes, “Where else can you find a campus where dogs roam around freely and mingle with the students as though they very much belonged?”

Where, indeed? Bravo, Junior – and Puppy before them – they were very much at home…

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