ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—“Kabang,” the female “Aspin” (a Filipino mixed breed dog) who lost her upper snout when she sprung to save two girls from being hit by a speeding motorcycle, has become an instant celebrity.
“She has become a superstar. People come here to have their photos taken with the dog. Some come with medicines and vitamins,” said Christina Bunggal, the mother of 11-year-old Dina and an aunt of 3-year-old Princess Diansing—the two girls saved by Kabang.
One visitor even brought a roasted pig for Kabang, whose heroic feat was featured in the Inquirer last weekend.
“Kabang had lechon while I had none for breakfast,” Bunggal said in jest.
Donations have also poured in for the family.
“Some people came bringing clothes, and a little money for us. We are so thankful. We did not ask for those things, but still we are thankful,” he added.
Among the visitors were 10-year-old Cherryl Arevalo and her sister Mia, who dropped by Bunggal’s vulcanizing shop to see Kabang and give him cookies.
The Arevalos said they were hoping to have one of Kabang’s puppies.
“If Kabang was able to save her masters, I believe her puppies will do the same thing to us,” Mia said in Chavacano.
Bunggal said the family was willing to share Kabang’s puppies. “We can’t afford to feed several dogs,” he said.
Kabang (Spotty) was reported to have had a miscarriage after the incident in December last year. But City Veterinarian Mario Ariola told the Inquirer that Kabang was recently discovered to be almost two months pregnant.
Animal doctor Anton Lim of the Tzu Chi Foundation, who was among the first veterinarians to attend to Kabang, said the dog was “OK. She is healthy and I see that she is adjusting to her situation.”
Bunggal had initially refused to bring Kabang to an animal clinic after some City Pound personnel suggested that the dog be put to sleep.
Ariola admitted that some of his personnel had recommended euthanasia “after seeing her pitiful state, but the owner strongly objected and we respected their decision.”
Despite the incident, Ariola said, Kabang is not showing any sign of trauma.
“She was very calm, friendly and submissive when she was brought to our clinic,” Ariola said.
Kabang was a foundling. Rudy Bunggal fished out Kabang as a puppy from a swamp about one year ago.
“I believe (Kabang) is God’s gift to us,” said Rudy, Dina’s father.
Rudy, 57, is a vulcanizer of tires while wife Christina, sells candies.
Rudy admitted that before that, he often slaughtered dogs to eat.
“The dogs we raised did not last longer than three months. I slaughtered them. It was our only way of eating meat,” Rudy confessed, adding that the family could barely make ends meet.
“Life is difficult and I have to feed my family,” he said.
When he plucked Kabang out of the swamp, Rudy initially had the usual thought—to eventually turn the dog into a meal.
He brought the puppy home. The family initially give her coffee creamer because milk was expensive. Later the puppy got the scraps from the family meals.
But Kabang, as they named the dog, never ended up on the dinner table.
Rudy said that for some reason he was never keen on slaughtering Kabang.
Kabang grew up playing with Dina and her cousin Princess. The girls sometimes even slept with the dog. Kabang would also guard the family’s house.
“She would sit on Rudy’s (vulcanizing tools) apparently to prevent strangers from taking them,” Christina said. She said Kabang was a “sweet dog” who wanted to be cuddled.
Rudy became a different person after Kabang came. He became humane to animals, said a neighbor, Ricky Llorente said.
Today, Rudy cannot thank Kabang enough for saving Dina and her little cousin from harm.
Rudy watches the disfigured Kabang eat by using her paws to shove food into her disfigured mouth. “She is a gift from God,” he reiterates.