Column: Finding a friend across the world

‘Unlike most people, I don’t get to come home to them waiting for me, pet them whenever I want, take them on daily walks or even vent to them when I feel my world falling apart.’


“I looked down to see a minuscule chihuahua with white fur covered with black spots all around her body.” Photo courtesy of Erika Garque.

Throughout my life, I’ve always loved my first dog, Shakespeare. Ever since I was little, my family has told me stories about him. Stories of him following my dad to the hospital while my mom was in labor with me and how he kept me company when I was young. 

Truth be told, my first memory was of Shakespeare. 

I was 2 years old, in the front yard with my nanny, Christina, while she was petting him. I was hesitant to touch the giant labrador because he looked like he could bite me with his sharp teeth. Christina realized my hesitation and encouraged me to pet him, promising he’s not a scary monster and that she would be right beside me. Still scared, I scratched behind his ears. He closed his large black eyes, wagging his long tail. Christina was right, Shakespeare wasn’t scary.

Unlike the majority of people, I couldn’t see my dog whenever I wanted to. I was here in America, while he was in the Philippines.

Eight years after I moved to America, Shakespeare died in January 2012. 

In July, six months after Shakespeare’s death, my parents told me we’d be visiting the Philippines in a few weeks. A part of me was excited to visit my birthplace, but another part of me died inside. The wonderful creature who was part of my first-ever memory wouldn’t be waiting for me, wagging his tail as I entered my first home.

The second I walked into the house, I expected to hear nothing but plain silence. That was until I looked down to see a pint-sized chihuahua with white fur and black spots all around her body. I knelt down to her level and scratched her ear. Just like Shakespeare, she closed her black eyes and wagged her tail.

I heard my grandpa enter the house and he smiled at me and my new friend. He told me the dog’s name is Snow White and he adopted her from his sister a few days prior to my visit.

For the rest of the trip, I spent the majority of my time playing with Snow White, giving her baths, taking her out on walks and giving her belly rubs. I enjoyed my time with her and wished I could bring her back to America with me, but I had to face the reality that I couldn’t.

In August of 2016, I visited the Philippines once again. I wasn’t as happy since the last time I was here, mainly because my parents and I recently moved from Galloway, New Jersey to Lewisville, Texas, leaving behind the place I called home for the past 12 years.

One afternoon, while my parents were out of the house, I sat with Snow White in the front yard. I vented to her about all my fears of living in a new place and missing New Jersey. Sensing my pain, she began to whimper and buried her face onto my stomach, reassuring me everything would turn out just fine. I held her close and stayed with her until not a single tear could trickle down my face.

In July 2018 I returned to the Philippines as a completely different girl. I had experienced everything a typical teenage girl would experience: moving to a new place, attending homecoming, learning how to drive, having my first boyfriend, experiencing my first heartbreak and breaking a guy’s heart. At the same time, there were some exciting things too.

Just like last time, I told Snow White everything I went through since she and I last saw each other. Although this time it’s not just her I could share my stories with. But her children too.

Two months before returning to the Philippines, I received the news that Snow White had given birth to three puppies. No one knew who the dad was or that she was pregnant until the day she gave birth. One of the puppies was stillborn, the other two survived. The second I laid my eyes on the two new puppies, I knew exactly what to name them. Meghan and Harry after British royalty Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. I was ecstatic to find out that I gained two new additions to my family.

Having my dogs overseas has never been easy. Unlike most people, I can’t come home to them waiting for me, pet them whenever I want, take them on daily walks or even vent to them when I feel my world falling apart.

At the same time, that’s what makes my bond with Snow White, Meghan and Harry special. I know when I see them again, it will be worth it because no distance can break our connection with one another.