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Wipers . I loved to watch them . Watch them move lazily from left to right . They always cheer me up during boring rainy days . How they just move perfectly and constantly .Just staring , dazing , so hypnotizing .

It was a haze . My father was still laughing . Happy . We drove through the winding roads , singing songs. Suddenly , it rained . Oh yes , it rained . The wipers went up and I was filled with so much joy . I watched undisturbed. What came next was a blur . Yet still all I saw was those wipers , moving so joyfully .

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I struggled . Why ? The police men were doing all their best to gather some information . I saw their face filled with impatience . I tried . I fought to know .  But why above all I wanted to see , I saw those wipers.

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Now , as I have grown with age . I had struggled to bring back memories . And yes , for all my hard work , I still don’t understand . They told me that my parents died while a shower of bullets hit them. But why?

Why as I remembered , why as I fought as I grew with age I saw this . I saw those wipers again moving , dancing ,  but now they came to a stop . A stop so loud , it echoed through the mazes of my memory. A stop that left me clawing , gasping for my life .

A Backyard dog
I don’t remember much from the place I was born. It was cramped and dark, and we were never played with by the humans. I remember Mom and her soft fur, but she was often sick, and very thin. She had hardly any milk for me and my brothers and sisters. I remember many of them dying, and I missed them so much.

I don’t remember the day I was taken from Mom. I was so sad and scared, my milk teeth had only just come in, and I really should have been with Mom still, but she was so sick and the Humans kept saying that they wanted money and were tired of the "mess" that me and my sister made.

So we were crated up and taken to a strange place. Just the two of us. We huddled together and were scared, still no humans hands came to pet us or to love us. So many sights and sounds, and smells! We are in a store where there are many different animals! Some that squawk! Some that meow! Some that peep! My sister and I are jammed into a small cage. I can hear other puppies here. I see humans look at me. I like the little humans – the kids – best. They look so sweet, and fun, like they would play with me!

  All day we stay in a small cage, sometimes mean people will hit the glass to frighten us, every once in a while we are taken out to be held or shown to humans. Some are gentle, some hurt us. We always hear "Aw, they’re so cute! I want one!" But we never get to go with any one. My sister died last night, when the store was dark. I lay my head on her soft fur and felt the life leave her small thin body. I had heard them say she was sick, and that I should be sold at a "discount price" so I would quickly leave the store. I think my soft whine was the only one that mourned for her, as her body was taken out of the cage in the morning and dumped.

Today, a family came and bought me. Oh, happy day! They are a nice family, they really, really wanted me! They bought a dish and food and the little girl held me so tenderly in her arms. I love her so much! The mom and dad say what a sweet and good puppy I am. I’m named Angel. I love to lick my new humans. The family takes such good care of me, they are loving and tender and sweet. They gently teach me right and wrong, give me lots of good food, and lots of love. I want only to please these wonderful people! I love the little girl and I enjoy running and playing with her.

Today, I went to the veterinarian, it was a strange place and I was frightened. I got some shots, but my best friend the little girl held me softly and said it would be OK. So, I relaxed. The vet must have said sad words to my beloved family, because they looked awfully sad. I heard "severe hip dysplasia", and something about my heart……I heard the vet say something about backyard breeders and my parents not being tested. I know not what any of that means, just that it hurts me to see my family so sad, but they still love me, and I still love them very much.

I am 6 months old now. Where most other puppies are robust and rowdy, it hurts me terribly to move. The pain never lets up. It hurts to run and play with my beloved little girl, and I find it hard to breathe. I keep trying my best to be the strong pup I know I am supposed to be, but it is so hard. It breaks my heart to see the little girl so sad, and to hear the Mom and Dad talk about "Now might be the time". Several times I have gone to that vet’s place, and the news is never good. Always talk about congenital problems. I just want to feel the warm sunshine and run, and play, and nuzzle my family. Last night was the worst, the pain had been constant. Now it even hurts to get up and have a drink. I try to get up but can only whine in pain.

I am taken in the car one last time. Everyone is so sad, and I don’t know why. Have I been bad? I try to be a good and loving dog – what have I done wrong? Oh, if only this pain would go! If only I could soothe the tears of my little girl. I reach out my muzzle to lick her hand, but I can only whine in pain. The vet’s table is so cold. I am so frightened. The humans all hug and love me, and they cry into my soft fur. I can feel their love and sadness. I manage to softly lick their hands. Even the vet isn't so scary today. He is gentle and I sense some kind of relief for my pain.

The little girl holds me gently and I thank her for giving me all her love. I feel a pinch in my foreleg. The pain is beginning to lift, and a peace descends upon me. I can now softly lick her hand. My vision is becoming dreamlike now, and I can see my mother and my brothers and sisters in a far off green place. They tell me there is no pain there, only peace and happiness. I tell the family goodbye in the only way I know how – a soft wag of my tail and a nuzzle from my nose. I had hoped to spend many many moons with them but it just wasn’t meant to be.
"You see" said the vet, "pet shop puppies do not come from ethical breeders!" The pain ends now, and I know it will be many years before I see my beloved family again. If only things could have been different.

I stirred.

My eyes retracted to the bright light beaming in front of me. I could not see clearly. I looked outside, through the tinted glass, only to see a young filthy girl just sleeping near the side of the highway close to the busy marketplace. She stretched, rose and looked at me. A long wistful look. I tried pointing her out to my friend Karen, but I was pulled back by my barely conscious mind. Sleep fell upon me once more.

“Malapit na tayo, Hannah,” Karen said. I woke up, and by reflex, looked outside. I expected to see her, hoping we had not gone far, but she was gone. I couldn’t shake away her haunting eyes. I know she was still there, giving the same long looks .
As we neared our alma mater, Alabel Science High School, I hastily slung on my backpack. I got out of the carpool. Dreading another tardy mark, I hurried about wishing that the first bell would not yet ring. As I took the first step inside, the bell rang loudly, reaching the far ends of the school site.

“Puttttt Puttttt!,” A loud noise jolted her from her sleep. She was thankful she survived through the night but now she had other problems, like a car honking loudly at her face. A new blue car came into view. She quickly got off her feet and carefully folded the soiled piece of carton that had helped her through the rough cold nights. She felt hot and sweaty and decided on a little walk.

This is her playground, the busy streets of General Santos City. It was a beggar’s paradise. Many people meant much money for her to beg, much for her to steal. She knew that money was very important for survival. It is here where she could find a hundred stalls willing enough to give scrap food. It is here where she could scour a lot of booties in garbage bins. Yes, this is paradise for her. Nothing is more important than begging and stealing, not even going to school. She thought school made no sense.

She found herself walking aimlessly through the streets and finding a spot to beg . After hours and hours of waiting, a kind generous heart approached her. He held her gaze while guiding her hands to hold a plate filled with such delicious things. She smiled. It was the best day of her life.

She stood up and walked with a proud grin on her face. She found a discarded clean cellophane and emptied the contents of the paper plate. She tied up the loose ends of the cellophane and continued to beg.

Through the heat and fumes, she waited patiently for lunch time, her ecstasy building at each passing minute. She wiped all her sweat with her tattered clothing, keeping the hunger to herself. Time passed like seconds as she slowly opened the cellophane contents to savor the moment .

A painful punch landed on her cheek . She fell and bled. Through her blurry sight she saw a couple of boys picking up her treasure. That was when everything went black for her.

She blinked and she saw it was nighttime and she was still there lying on the floor bathe with her own blood. She didn’t bother to stand. Her life was a spiraling mess and she was tired of always trying to fix it. She wished her life were different.

“Putt! Putt! Putt!” Carpool’s finally here. Another long, tedious day finally ended. Brain-wretching algebra problems, drearily long lab reports and mind-numbing science experiments has eventually taken its toll on me. Dragging my feet I boarded the van. I closed my eyes. Sleep was a welcome relief.

But my subconscious mind won’t let me rest. Three essays and one oral report must be done before midnight. Must set alarm at 4:30 so wont be late again. So draining. So frustrating. So exhausting. I wished my life were different.

"Hannah, malapit ka na bababa.” Karen shook me awake. I stirred. It was getting dark. I could not see clearly at first. I looked outside, through the tinted glass. The carpool parked at our drop off point. I got out and weaved my way through the busy market place.

A feeling of unease came over me. My foot hit something sticky and my eyes met hers again. Blood drenched she looked at me from the ground. A long wistful look. I called for help.

Maybe my life need not be different. Maybe I should be thankful my problems and challenges are lighter. Maybe if I try harder life can be better for her too.


(Hannah Cartojano is a first year high school student in Alabel Science High School. She won 2nd place in the Feature Writing Contest in the National Schools Press Conference in Tagum City last February 2010.)