In the past year and a half, I’ve become a parent to a dog named Magnus. By most standards, he’s a mostly okay dog. Kind of cute, not that smart, totally into hanging out with the neighborhood askals.That’s what most people probably think when they see him — four legs, a tail, and not much else. Not to me, though. To me, well, he’s the greatest. And my adoration is apparent in the way that I manage to insert any mention of him in every topic with every person I meet. Even my Uber drivers have not been spared. One time I was typing an Instagram caption on my phone when I started tearing up, so much so that the driver spoke up and asked if I was all right. “Kuya, yung aso ko…” I said between sobs.
“Namatay na siya?” he asked. At a stoplight he turned to me, scandalized and concerned. “Hindi,” I said, crying even louder. “Birthday kasi niya today!!!”
Passenger rating: 2.3 stars.
It’s like I’ve become one of the most annoying people on your Facebook timeline, the ones whose shamelessness is comparable only to those who still send Clash of Clans requests on Facebook: new parents, the ones who upload albums upon albums of their kid’s face. They do it every day, as though we’re begging them to give us a blow-by-blow of every questionable milestone. Please tell us all about baby’s first diaper rash. Or baby’s first Gerber disaster. Where’s baby’s first poop? There are approximately negative-three people in the world who care what your baby’s first poop looks like. Report yourself as abuse and get that thing out of my face.
Well, parents, I get it now. I get it, because I, too, am obsessed with publicly documenting every moment of my dog’s life, which I totally have the right to do because he’s way cuter than the human you just ejected. (I kid, I kid.) Magnus, my canine progeny, is the best, period. There is nothing else in this world that I am prouder of than being the mom to a Siberian Husky, Japanese Spitz mix. (Yes, my dog’s totally Chinito. I’m sending him to Xavier when he turns five.)
The funny thing is that I never thought I’d bring a dog into my life. I used to socialize strictly with the two-legged clique. Then one day my old boss decided to get a Cocker Spaniel because he said, “This dog will stay with me until I die.” I realized, holy crap. Who’s gonna be with me until I die??? My husband will probably be old and rich. I’m definitely surviving him in our drafty Bavarian castle. So then I thought it was time to get myself a dog.
Of course, parenthood never turns out the way you expect it to. You pray for a Mensa candidate, and you get yourself a McDonald’s Kiddie Crew member. (Let’s be real, there is no IQ test involved in that program. Goodbye, Ivy League.) I found my dog of choice in an Instagram store, of all places, sold by a girl whose online handle is all consonants (@mrndk53ls or something). I was considering a Beagle but was warned that they were drooly, and I wanted a Corgi but they cost more than my cheap kidney, so I set my sights on a litter of the cutest, fluffiest, budget-friendly Japanese Spitzes. After a series of events, however, my chosen dog got bitten by a rabies-infested older dog and he went straight to doggie heaven before I could pick him up. (I swear, this is true.) So the seller said that she had another litter of Spitzes that I could adopt from, and sent me a photo of a runt that I thought was just fine.
The Magnus that I met in the entrance of Harrison Plaza — sketchier and sketchier this story gets — was not the ball of fluff that I had expected from a Spitz. (Later on, the seller would admit that she did not sell me a pure breed. Which is its own long story.) But here’s the thing about becoming a parent, whether to a human or a dog: that crap doesn’t matter. I held him in my arms for the very first time and I said, “You shall be named Magnus.” Then he peed on my T-shirt. I realized that I had fallen in love because I absolutely did not mind that I smelled like ammonia for the rest of the car ride home.
Since day one, I have been Magnus’s parent. Not a pet owner, not a casual friend. I still address myself as Marga because my parents call themselves Mom and Dad when speaking to him, but I am his parent. It’s like I’m the secret teen mom in a Koreanovela who has a “little brother” that her parents have raised as their own. In season six, he will find out the truth and get a bad haircut. I bathe him, clothe him in stupid costumes, and nurse him when he gets sick. I get annoyed when my parenting style is questioned, just because I let him chew on bedroom slippers that one time or that I let him walk around the village, bossing people and dogs around. Everything about him, to me, is perfect. From his nose to his teeth to that extra toe on his left rear paw.
Thanks to raising Magnus, I’ve begun to understand why parents are so annoying sometimes. I get why they feel hurt when their children don’t appreciate their hard work, or why it sucks to be ignored after a long day. Even the overprotectiveness makes sense. When my dog is napping, I sometimes hover over him to make sure that he’s just sleeping, not dead. I go to pet parenting forums to trawl for information on the random things he eats from the garden. When he got attacked by neighboring dogs last month, I cried so hard when I found him shivering in a corner, dirty and bloodied up. I made a huge fuss at the vet like some kind of Grey’s Anatomy guest star while he was getting stitches, demanding for revenge. (I didn’t do anything, but I know who did it. And I’m watching.) Every single bad thing that happens to your dog, you wish happened to you instead. That is the by-product of parenthood. You surrender your being to an unwitting subject, and hold yourself hostage to them for life.
I can’t remember who I was before my dog came into my life. Was I prettier, thinner? Was I more fun to be around? The things that used to concern me before I met Magnus matter very little now. I don’t care about looking my best in my Facebook profile picture, as long as he looks particularly cute in it. Even relationships don’t get spared. A guy I went out with saw Magnus’s photo on my phone and shrugged, saying, “Eh, my cats are better.” That man has changed his identity twice since then, for fear of my wrath.
The thing is, I can’t stop talking about my dog, because he is the best representation of the best side of me: the version of me that is the kindest and most loving. That is what a dog does to you, when you let him into your life. He will make a mess, and he will poop on your favorite rug, but he will also show you that while you are his, his heart is irrevocably yours too. And if I could show you my heart right now, this is what you would see: four legs, a tail, and not much else.