A Fur-Ever Family

A man who as a child lost his pet, a dog saved from the dog meat trade, and the Filipino animal welfare organisation that brought them together.

When I was 10 years old, I had a dog named Barky (Yes, he barked a lot, hence the name). I absolutely loved that dog. However, one tragic day, I went home after school to find out that he had passed away due to sickness. While my heart broke at losing a friend, things quickly got worse.

Some of our neighbours asked my parents for my dog's remains. I can still clearly picture in my mind the way they put my dog in a sack and took it home. I didn’t understand why. Shock turned to horror when I found out that they went on to cook and eat my dear deceased dog. I had known that this happens across some parts of my country, the Philippines, where people eat dog meat as pulutan, a dish eaten while drinking alcohol, but I had not expected it to happen to my dog.

This experience wasn’t unique to just me. My wife, Darlyn, went through this trauma as well.

On her seventh birthday, Darlyn woke up to find her dog missing, only to discover that it had been cooked to be served later at her birthday party and for the neighbours’ drinking session.  A day that was meant to be her celebration turned into her devastation.

It left us wondering why people would eat dogs—dogs who have been loyal and loving friends to us humans since forever.

When we were kids, the act of slaughtering and consuming dog meat was a social and cultural practice that was commonplace with no laws against it. But since 1998, due to the many health concerns raised and more importantly to address the suffering that stray dogs, which are usually the victims, go through from capture to slaughter, it was made illegal. But old cultural habits are hard to break. Today it still exists, mostly in rural areas, by elderly communities.

But for us 90’s kids, the thought of our animal friends becoming someone’s snack food left us in grief then and continues to haunt us now.

Fast forward to today, and we have a four-year-old daughter named Olivia. She has been asking us to get a dog since she played with one at her cousin’s house. It took us a few months, but when we eventually moved into our own home, we finally decided that the time was right to get one. Initially, we looked around at different pet shops, but my wife and I felt that we wanted her first pet to be meaningful. We decided to adopt a rescue dog. It would be a great opportunity to save a life, keep one stray dog off the streets, and off someone’s plate. For me, it would also honour the memory of Barky.

So we went to check out Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), an animal welfare non-profit organisation that rescues dogs from both the streets as well as the cruel dog meat trade, heals their wounds and their hearts, and helps them get adopted into a forever home. We applied on their website and reached out to them via Facebook regarding their next adoption event. From the website, we saw Chewy, a beautiful female dog. She had spots on her body, and a face with different patterns divided by a line right in the middle. Olivia was smitten with Chewy.

When Darlyn and I read that Chewy was rescued from the dog meat trade, we immediately knew that we wanted to adopt her. My inner child felt a chance for redemption and hope. My actual child was bouncing around in excitement.

The adoption drive was a smooth affair, where after checking on us and if we could provide the right care and love for Chewy, AKF passed us Chewy’s leash. 

Bringing her home brought about so many emotions. 

Chewy was cautious.

Olivia was overjoyed.

Darlyn and I were thrilled, happy, and nervous.

By adopting a rescued dog, we realised we had become a part of a bigger community of like-minded individuals passionate about animal welfare. We found many local Facebook groups that provide valuable support, resources, and advice for all aspects of dog ownership. Knowing other people’s experiences and challenges had been comforting and reassuring.

Adopting Chewy has also been a great way to teach Olivia empathy and how to care for another being. We’ve seen her excitedly wake up in the morning and head out of the bedroom ahead of us just to check on Chewy. Sometimes, she would just be sitting beside her quietly. We are so proud of her, and we hope she will grow up with a big heart for people and animals.

Honestly, I have forgotten the feeling of having a pet over the years, and I thought that it was us who would be blessing Chewy with a new life. But it turns out that it’s my family who has received that blessing of joy that comes with welcoming home a rescued dog. It has turned around sad memories, returned the joy of having a pet and healed the inner child within me and my wife.

About Animal Kingdom Foundation

Animal Kingdom Foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving animal welfare in the Philippines and eliminating the dog meat trade for human consumption. They rehabilitate rescued animals in their centre and nurse them back into good health for adoption.


Director, Writer & Editor

Dave Sarabia


Lilian Tan


Aldrin Ray Tabay

Executive Producer

Chris Annadorai