One of the beautiful things i love most about Jun is his immense compassion for animals. When we first met in 2015, he sent me a picture of a dog he’d just saved – his 5th rescue named Poppy.
Jun’s first rescue, Pickles, was a scruffy-looking tricolour terrier with the sweetest face and intelligent piercing eyes.
He first found her in early 2011 when he was on the way to an important function where he was to cook lunch for a board of directors. The car in front of his accidentally hit a dog. Jun and the man in front got down from their cars to scrutinize the dog who couldn’t get back up. She screamed every time she tried to stand cos her hip had got hit. The man placed his hand on the dog’s head, said “I’m very sorry i hit you, dog”, got back into his car and drove off.
Jun couldn’t stand leaving her there with the knowledge that the 8:30am rush hour traffic directly behind him would drive over her bringing her to an end. He carried her to the roadside, and got help from two kindergarten teachers nearby who took over, leaving him free to hurry on to his work.
Throughout the day, he couldn’t stop thinking about this dog, and called every vet in Subang and Sunway to check if she had been brought in. With no news of her admission to be heard, Jun drove back to the kindergarten at 7:30pm and followed one of the teacher’s leads all the way to Puchong – where the dog had been taken in by a renegade hippie-like veterinarian who treats strays or animals who doesn’t necessarily have anyone to foot their bills (bless these hubeings!).
This vet healed the dog for up to a week, then told Jun that she’d have to release Puchong (the vet dubbed the dog that haha) after she was well enough cos they couldn’t possibly keep her. Jun bargained for more time whilst looking for someone to adopt her to no avail. After pushing for more days that led up to the vet keeping Puchong for two weeks, Jun thought “fuck it” and put the dog in his car and took her home.
And then she was named Pickles!
Pickles settled down in her corner in the front garden and was chill from the start. After warming up to Jun a few weeks later, she became what he described as a firecracker. She was always hyper and happy, when not sleeping in her favourite plastic white box (which is the top half of a kennel Jun carried his first dog back from the States in).
The little adventurer loved following Jun outside the compound, and soon discovered how to stealthily escape by herself. Pickles would get up to mischief in the neighbourhood – kacauing cats and chickens, and visiting all the neighbours regardless of whether they wanted to meet her or not. She’d return dirty and happy every time. Everyone got to know her, and would wonder HOW she got out through the tiny grills. Her second name became Little Houdini.
At home, Pickles was always hungry; and loved eating, digging holes in the garden, undoing the gardener’s meticulous efforts, and tearing apart all the pillows Jun gave her to sleep on – spreading the fluff everywhere. Besides being Jun’s running buddy, with her longest run with him measuring 5.5 km non-stop; Pickles learnt how to tell her left paw from her right one, roll over, and fetch.
“When she’s happy to see you, everything shakes. Damn cute.”
Three weeks ago, Jun came over to have dinner and catch up – and told me out of nowhere that Pickles had started drastically losing a lot of weight. We both sat at the dinner table and cried quietly without speaking further.
Her vet suspected cancer after viewing spots in an x-ray she had done, but then figured it might be sand (from her stools) so they got her pancreas supplements (which ironically arrived today).
Last night, i was out with Rahul and Murat when Jun whatsapped me pictures of her saying she refused to eat and that her nose was cold and dry. I haven’t gone to Jun’s house since last year, and for some reason called him to ask if he wanted me to come over. I went home to pack a change of clothes, then drove over at 1am.
We massaged her, and tried to hand feed her, but she wasn’t interested.
Today was a very sad day.
Pickles started experiencing internal bleeding, and we took her to the vet in the afternoon. The vet attended to her immediately, and announced the difficult news: that it was time.
“Can you give us a moment?” Jun asked.
They left us alone in the room with Pickles lying on the table.
He bawled, “I’m sorry, i’m so sorry!”
The procedure was quick, and three staff held on to her while Jun kissed her head continuously and i patted her nose and stared into her eyes, comforting her (maybe myself?) with thoughts on how she was going back Home.
“She always loved me unconditionally. Sometimes i’d rotan her, but she took it with the biggest smile.”
“How do you know she was smiling?”
“You can tell when a dog is smiling.”
Jun bathed her one last time before the vet team helped wrap her body.
Initially thinking of a cremation, Jun decided to bury her in his back garden, so she’d always be at home. We discussed it over a meal near the vet.
“What do you think? I don’t think i’m thinking straight right now.”
“It’s really up to what you want. Do you want to spread her ashes in India? But you have her fur you can do that with… it doesn’t matter to her, cos she’s already with Source. I don’t think she cares what happens to her body. Do you remember what we felt like when we went to Source?”
“I didn’t give a shit about my body anymore. It’s a temporary body that housed me here, but when we were gone… it all didn’t matter… You need to do what you want to do. Whatever you feel like, for your own process.”
We found her a box to take her home in, and poor Jun was crying in the car on the highway which i thought dangerous. I tried to console him.
“How about we have a ritual for her tonight? We can light candles, talk about her.”
“I’ll blog about her, okay? We can talk about her and write it down.”
So this is our process for today… talking about Pickles, writing it down, so she’s here somewhere, in digital memory.
“I didn’t get to take her to the beach… she’s never been to the beach,” Jun wailed.
“It’s okay… where she is now, is a beach AND a giant field with lots of happy dogs she can play with. Maybe she’s not even in a dog body anymore, she might be flying through space, waiting for you.”
“I just didn’t think she’d go overnight. I thought we still had time. She must have been like ‘ha, wait for you till next year? BYE!”
I laughed a little.
He laughed a little.
I bet Pickles is somewhere out there, laughing a little too.