Jan 10, 2018

RHENNIE VILORIA
CONTRIBUTOR

It was a cold December 10, 2009 when a handsome but trembling, skinny, wounded, barely 7 pounds Pomeranian Chihuahua mix wasfirst brought to our home. My son, filled with pity, took 2-year old Kobe from the shelter with the thought of giving him good care. However, demands from his work kept my son away most of the time that I started looking after the poor little pooch. Amazingly, we hit it off in no time that by December 2010, the ownership was transferred to my name. The now healthy little bundle is now my very own Kobe. 

The bond that developed between Kobe and me is inexplicable, indescribable.For all the care and attention I pour to him, he shows me what unconditional love means… selflessness and trust…by being completely loyal and dedicated to me. He makes me feel I am his hope, his life, his world. And our lovebrings color, joy, and laughter into each other’s lives. The love we have is unquestionable and I could feel thathis love for me goes beyond his love for himself. For Kobe, it is only me---there is no other. 

I was scheduled to leave for a 3-day cruise on January 4, 2013. I have been looking forward to this vacationsince its conception in October 2012. “I deserve a break,” I thought to myself and January seemed to be a goodtime for R&R. I always take Kobe with me wherever I go, but after all had been paid and prepared for, I learnedthat pets are not allowed on board. Thus, for the very first time, I had to leave Kobe at home.




The following morning, while I was indulging in that luxury liner, I received a text message from my son: “Ma, Kobe ran away!” Right that moment, I felt the world stop and my heart shatter into a million splinters! Time froze and it suddenly hit me: His greatest fear was to see me walk out the door and never come back. I then realized that Kobe must have run away to look for ME---his hope, his life, his world. My mind just went blank that I only wished I could rush back home to find him and say, “Here I am, Kobe. I am here. I am right here.” 


And so, the quest to find Kobe began. For weeks, all I could do is cry day in and day out. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t work or do anything at all for myself or my family. I spent all my time looking for Kobe. Every single day, I would go to rescue facilities or visit shelters nearby and as far away as 200 miles’ drive. I would knock on neighbors’ doors, talk to every person I see on the street. I would post and distribute flyers everywhere, post online campaigns, get phone alert services. I even sought help from an animal communicator! I was so devastated that it got me into arguments with my loved ones at home. I knew they were concerned about my well-being, but the pain of losing Kobe just simply overwhelmed me. By then, I felt I was all alone in my journey.




But eventually, I realized I have company. I’d receive calls from people who say the dog they saw looks like Kobe. Some of them email me of found dogs from different sites. Others tell me they put up Kobe’s flyer in their workplaces. A lady I met on the street gave me a hug while she cried with me. I’ve been told encouraging words which I hold close to my heart to this very day: “Don’t give up. Other people are reunited with their dogs after 2 or even 6 years!” Or, “Hang in there! There is a big chance that you will get him back safely.” And, the most promising of all, “We are praying for his safe return. Keep your faith. There is power in prayers.” 


Since then, I began to appreciate the fact that some people are sensitive and compassionate to a dog-lover’s misery, while others are not; some people consider their dogs to be family, while others do not. And although the pain remains in my heart not knowing where Kobe could be, my hope that we will be together again is stronger than ever. I believe our love will lead us to find each other. 


I'm helping myself to move on, trying to resume to my usual routine and warm relations with the people around me, and I have blended my search for Kobe into my daily life. Of course, I won’t give up, I am still looking and I still cry every now and then. But, this time, I have joyful hope for the calls, messages, and emails I continually receive about Kobe are signs and signals of a brighter path ahead. And because I now know that there are many who do care and join me in my moment, I was inspired to create MyDogKobe---a website which aims to celebrate our beloved dogs and share our significant experiences with them; dog-experiences that give meaning to both our lives. Whether it be the devoted friendship or the agonizing loss, a remarkable find or a jubilant reunion, MyDogKobe is made to affirm that we, and our dogs, are not alone in our journey. 


The quest to find Kobe has indeed been challenging, but I trust it will be rewarding in the end. As for now, our journey continues… it is not yet over for the end is not in sight… not yet.




March 15, 2017. Wednesday is always a busy day for me starting with the ladies’ breakfast meeting that segues to networking with various businesspersons throughout the day. When I get home at night, I’m spent with the day’s work and would switch myself to silent mode dropping into slumber. But this Wednesday night was different. At 8:00 PM, a text message came from my son stating that he received a call from West Valley Animal Shelter informing him that Kobe was found. Learning of the news, I trembled. Then I began to cry asking myself, “Is this the call I was waiting for in the last four years of my life?” I tried to keep my composure so I could think straight. I called the shelter but got the answering machine. Anxious to know more about the find, I decided to drive to the animal shelter right away. 


I reached the shelter around 8:45 PM. I was able to talk to a lady who told me that at 7:30 PM someone dropped off a dog in a crate which he found between Plummer St. and Mason Ave. in Chatsworth (CA). She further said that, based on their records, the dog is Kobe. To verify, I requested for some information from their records to which she kindly obliged and showed me a picture of the dog that was just brought in. Knowing everything about Kobe-- -his face, his ears, his eyes, his stand, his posture-- -I instantly knew. The dog is Kobe. Since releasing time is between 8:00 AM and 4:45 PM, the lady asked me to return the following day with the proper documents. Oh, how I wished the moment magically turned to 8 o’clock the following morning! 


When I got back home, I immediately pulled out from the closet the little chest where I kept Kobe’s stuff all these years and prepared his favorite vest and leash. I never thought of throwing Kobe’s things away because I believed the day will come when he will be back home. And that day is coming in just a few hours that I could hardly sleep. I was restless, tossing and turning in bed, getting up every now and then to check whether I have prepared the right papers, the right vest and leash, or I have not missed out anything that may cause the shelter to hold Kobe from being released to me. Then, I must have dozed off for a few hours for when I came to, it was 4:00 AM. At last, it’s the following day.




I arrived at the shelter at 7:30 AM and anxiously waited for their business hours to begin. By 8:00 AM, I was already transacting with a sweet lady and handed her my documents. After checking and cross-checking my documents against their records, the lady told me to go to the next window to get a new dog tag while she gets Kobe. My heart started pounding hard, like it was beating heavily and loudly above all the other noise in the room. “This is it!” I thought to myself, “Answered prayers! The day, the moment, is at hand!” 


Three minutes passed…then nine…then fifteen. It was the longest fifteen minutes of my life until I saw the sweet lady walking towards me with a frail-looking dog in her arms. As soon as I saw his face, I began to cry. It is real! He is Kobe! And as I reached out to take him into my arms, I felt like my heart was so filled with joy that it was about to explode. After four years and two months, the longing and the yearning has ended. Our difficult journey of finding each other was finally over. 


Losing and finding Kobe has become my story of faith and hope. Believing that Kobe will be back kept me going. It gave me the strength and courage to take on the pain of waiting. It made me combat the negative forces that try to discourage me; the negative comments that Kobe will never be found. I have constantly told myself-- -and everybody else-- -that I will find Kobe. Even a friend was so amazed with how hopeful I was. Now, my faith and hope bore fruit: Kobe is home. 


I dedicate this story 
- To all the people who helped and supported me in any and every way; 
- To all those who prayed for Kobe, for me and my family, and wished that our efforts be rewarded; 
- And, most especially, to my family who put up and kept up with me during this struggle. 


To those who haven’t found their dogs yet, do not give up. Have faith; have hope. Your love for each other will bring you both to find one another. Now that Kobe is back, my faith has grown bigger, stronger, and more steadfast. Though I will never know why Kobe was brought into my life and then taken away for over four years, I believe that whatever the purpose was might have now been fulfilled since Kobe was given back to me. I trust I will understand in time because a new journey for Kobe and me begins…a journey we will cruise together, renewing our bond and love for one another, side by side.