ZAMBOANGA CITY—Kabang, the dog that lost its upper snout when hit by a motorcycle while saving two girls here last year, will be coming home to a broken family.
One of its owners, Rodolfo “Rudy” Bunggal, now lives alone after his wife Christina left him. Christina confirmed the separation.
“I am renting a small room for P700 because I could no longer take Rudy’s behavior every time he’s drunk,” she said.
Christina lives with her daughter Dina, 12, and three other relatives. She also takes care of Kabang’s offspring, JR.
“I rescued JR from Rudy because the dog is always subjected to maltreatment. Look at JR’s teeth; some are missing. It was hit by something hard and it has skin problems. I took it from Rudy and brought it to my house,” Christina said.
Rudy, on the other hand, still lives in a small hut. He has found a new job as a construction worker, earning P200 a day.
“It’s good to be working than staying in the street, waiting for someone’s motorcycle wheel to get busted,” the former vulcanizing shop worker said.
Three months ago, Rudy nearly lost his hut after the landowner ordered its demolition along with other shanties.
“Later on, he (landowner) allowed me to stay here again,” he said.
Today, Kabang, with its upper snout wounds completely closed and safe from infection, will be coming home after a medical treatment in the United States.
“It’s been almost nine months that it (Kabang) has been away from us and I am hoping it will still recognize my smell,” Rudy said.
This early, the Bunggals do not know who will take custody of Kabang.
“I don’t know if it will stay with us or with my father,” Dina said.
The girl recalled that after they found Kabang, then still a puppy, floating on a swampy area, “it never left me.”
“It slept on my tummy until it grew up. I left it to my father every time I went to school,” she said.
“I am not sure if it will still feel comfortable with us,” she added.
Dina admits she envies Kabang and the attention the dog is getting from people around the globe.
“Everyone is helping it after it rescued me and my cousin, Princess. I am very grateful for the people who helped it,” said Dina, a fifth grader at Putik Elementary School.
If Kabang stays with Rudy, Christina said she and her daughter will find time to visit the dog.
The big question is who will provide for Kabang, which slept on a dirty rug or bare soil at the Bunggals’ doorstep before it was brought to the United States for treatment?
“What we eat—fish sauce and soy sauce with rice—will also be its meal,” Dina said, adding that she saw a news footage showing Kabang’s sleeping area at the veterinary hospital in the University of California Davis and the dog’s colorful blanket.
“I don’t know if it will still like to sleep with us or eat rice with fish sauce,” the girl said.
Rudy said it will be back to what it used to be for Kabang—eating what its masters eat. “Unless someone will continue donating dog food,” Rudy said.
Christina said if Kabang lives with her, “it will be reunited with its offspring, JR.”
“And we always have space for both of them. We may not have special dog food but I know it will like to be with us,” she said.
Eleazar Rosales, Rudy’s neighbor, said he sees the couple waging a custodial battle for Kabang.
But Rosales said Rudy’s hut is good for only one person, “and he comes home every after two days from construction work.”
Rosales said the couple kept on fighting “because Rudy drinks a lot.”
City veterinarian Mario Arriola said Kabang would be coming home tonight (June 9) and “will stay for a while” with Anton Lim, the private animal doctor who helped in having the dog treated abroad.
On Monday (June 10), there will be a hero’s welcome for Kabang.
Arriola said Mayor Celso Lobregat will lead ceremonies to welcome the dog. There will be a motorcade around the city and Kabang will meet other dogs, said Arriola.
Arriola, however, said he does not know if Kabang’s offspring, JR, was invited to the ceremonies. Neither Rudy nor Christina received invites.
“If we get invited, that would be great. If not, it’s OK,” Christina said. Rudy said he learned about Kabang’s homecoming from journalists. “I will wait for Dr. Lim to inform me,” he said.