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星座都說水瓶座外冷內熱,這是真的!我是個念舊的人,尤其是一起同甘共苦過的革命情感。想當年我在陋室蝸居,經常窮到口袋只剩五十元,買一個三十九元的國民便當和果子狸一人一半,牠吃得很開心。有一年的年夜飯只有一鍋稀飯配肉鬆,一人一半,牠也依舊津津有味。這十年來不離不棄,我苦,牠伴著我,支持我,不以為苦;我樂,牠搖尾撒嬌,從不居功。我沒把牠當動物看,我把牠當兒子疼愛。我生活有起色後,牠所有的用度規格都比照人類,牠有自己的安全帽、護目鏡、床、碗、專屬的獸醫、美容師⋯⋯我永遠忘不了牠在我最苦的歲月中對我的支持!沒有牠我走不到今天!

圖文/Story & Picture ─ 謝明杰/ Hsieh Ming-Jai

200311月的某日,我當時住在內湖環山路的小公寓。當天下著雨,我正要掏鑰匙開公寓門時,只見牠淋得一身濕的在對面窄小騎樓打著哆嗦。我對於動物天生有種憐愛,初冬天冷,我喚牠過來,牠當時並不認識我,卻也搖著尾巴橫過馬路來讓我撫摸。我看牠沒有項圈,於是心想:「要是我開門跟我上了樓,我就養你。」天曉得那時我連自己都養不起,而這小傢伙卻真的跟我上了樓!我頭一次發現我能夠跟牠心電感應。我當時還在學習為自己的承諾負責任,即便是對一隻狗,或是沒說出口的心語。於是我開始簡單張羅牠的用品,先是帶牠去到寵物店洗澡,順便掃描晶片。寵物店醫師很快找到牠晶片的紀錄,原來牠是有主人的。我雖然喜愛牠,卻也不能偷人家的,便順著晶片資料找到位於附近的主人。

那是一個約莫五十歲的中年人,我一開口提狗的事,他就說:「這隻狗沒有忠誠度啦!每天趴趴走,你要就給你吧!」我心想:「狗有沒有忠誠度是看主人怎樣養吧?」於是便不假思索地接受他的贈與,並且留了電話給他。一週後,我接到一位女孩的來電,說是狗狗的原主人,我一聽糊塗了。原來狗其實是她的,喚作「寶寶」。那位中年人是她姊夫,她因為考上南部學校要住校而無法養狗,只好將狗寄養在姊夫家,但姊夫偏偏不愛狗,於是「寶寶」只好每天到處跑,有一餐沒一餐的,簡直就像流浪狗一般……

這女孩是個愛狗的人,只希望能為牠找到好主人,打給我是想確定我是否真有心照顧牠。我告訴她請她放心!我不養則已,決定後,一定全心愛護。我沒有食言,果子狸一直被我深深愛著,至今長達十年!我們彼此留了電話後,那女孩就再沒音訊。這已經是十年前的事情,想必那女孩也早已畢業進入社會,興許嫁人了……不知她是否還記得那隻她用愛憐的口吻託給我的「寶寶」?

「寶寶」來到我身邊時年僅八個月大,屬「邊境牧羊犬」,經獸醫師鑑定是少有的「三色邊境」。邊境牧羊犬的臉龐有著熊貓似的雙眼,胸前雪白,眉心一道白毛,加上鼓溜的黑亮雙眼,像極了白鼻心「果子狸」,於是我便將牠的名字喚作「果子狸」。

果子狸天資聰穎。初來的一週都很安靜,像是在觀察新環境和新主人,連叫也不會,我還一度懷疑這狗是啞巴。一週後,牠開始展現一般小狗所有的「撒野」行為,例如翻垃圾桶、咬拖鞋、毀家具……每每回到家都要大肆整理一番才能真正休息,但我卻能夠完全的包容。當時的我正在為苟延殘喘的「事業」做最後的掙扎,其實每天的壓力都很大,回到家只想好好休息。當時的牠雖然每天搗蛋,但牠那充滿無辜與靈性的眼神卻讓我忘卻疲憊,不忍責備。在收拾完後我還會帶著牠去散步,那是我當時唯一的運動。雖說是散步遛狗,其實每次都是牠蹓我,前進方向完全由牠老兄決定,由不得我,每趟都讓我有很足夠的運動量。活潑的牠對一切充滿好奇,經常這邊嗅嗅、那邊聞聞,大老遠把我拖去樹下,我以為牠選中了樹要小便,可牠老兄偏偏不抬腿,把三次可以尿完的量,楞是拖到七八次,就為了延長可以在外面遊玩的時間,我們沒有一次的散步距離是少於三千公尺。

在遇到牠以前,我的日子其實並不順利,牠算是出現在我面臨的最「險惡」低潮時期。當時的我被命運和自己的諸般錯誤打趴在地,指天怨地、憤世忌俗,內心幾乎是已經躲到了社會的邊緣,等待一次的爆發……而牠開啟了我當時閉鎖的心,療癒了我對世界的觀感。當時如果沒有牠,我活不到今天!我經常對牠說話,牠聽得懂,並且知道回應。

人說動物會聆聽有赤子之心的人說話呢!我一路失意於商場,敗在不夠世故,但果子狸卻讓我一再看見我內在赤子之心的力量,牠讓我知道「你的世界裡就算眾叛親離,也還有我懂你,而且不離不棄……」

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果子狸經常玩到不想回家。由於牠會認斑馬線,只要踏上斑馬線準備過馬路,牠就知道要回家了,但牠只要還沒玩夠,就會定住腳不動,死活不走,非要我換個方向繼續蹓,牠才又開心地跟我走。我後來每況愈下,終於倒閉,搬家到位於西寧北路大稻埕碼頭旁十坪大的套房蝸居起來。幾次牠自己溜出門,不假外出,一開始我很著急,但牠都會在不久後回來,用爪子敲門。知道牠會自己回家後,我放心多了,有幾次我遠遠觀察牠,發現這老兄居然還會看紅綠燈,曉得怎樣安全地越過車流湍急的環河北路,到對面碼頭去風騷……

我注意到牠的聰明後,更常跟牠用語言溝通,牠也總是側著頭傾聽。因此我對牠很少很少用打的,除了有三次牠在床上尿尿。牠愛吹風,我當時騎的是嬉皮風的機車,不像速客達有腳踏板可容納牠。牠非要跳上車,我又不能不載牠,只好讓牠前腳踩油箱,後腳踩我大腿,高高的站著。這樣的姿勢如果不是我身高夠,很容易擋到視線,但牠老兄就是超愛,每次都神氣地站著吹風。這樣的搭載方式,讓我和牠在馬路上吸了不少眼球。幾次被交警攔下,不見嚴厲開單的員警,倒是都對果子狸好奇,開玩笑說要開牠一張「未戴安全帽」罰單。後來,我真的去弄了一頂狗狗專用的安全帽,配上護目鏡,讓牠上路更拉風了。

不久,牠開始記得引擎聲,開始會在機車過彎時,往另一側邊傾,以保持平衡;起步時的反作用力會讓牠往後滑,於是聽到催油門聲,牠就知道要往前傾……用這方式載狗需要騎乘者與狗狗有高度的默契。我與牠相依為命的生活中,我們漸漸發現彼此的優點,越來越不能沒有對方。七月天,我們去踏青,牠可以跟在腳踏車後追逐,從大稻埕碼頭奔到社子島,直到柏油路燙花了牠的肉墊,破皮的水泡讓牠走起路來一拐一拐;我心疼著要抱牠,但牠卻堅持跛著腳,一拐一拐走回來,不讓人抱……

牠跟著我搬了幾次家,因為天天都要帶牠散步,鄰居不認識我,反倒是認識牠。牠聰穎可愛惹人憐,也讓牠享有好人緣;好人緣就有好口福,附近的燒臘店、羊肉爐沒事總會為牠備上一頓好料的,省了我的飼料錢。其實我給牠吃得並不差,但是這小傢伙就是「不忘本」,老保持著當年流浪時的習慣,向人要東西,用牠那鼓溜烏黑的大眼睛,無辜地看著正在吃東西的人,甚至把下巴放到人家大腿上,然後被看的人就會受不了良心的譴責賞給牠一塊……我真的相信牠有勾動人類靈魂裡慈悲心的能力。

我常心想─這是怎樣的一隻狗,我們一起在那個貧困的階段,共渡了許多美好的回憶,讓在我困頓的日子裡有安慰,有盼望,有奔頭……漸漸的,我對牠的愛越來越多……終至形影不離。現在牠十歲了,老了。熊貓似的眼圈已經灰白,但雙眼卻散發出不同於小時後的睿智成熟,炯炯有神。我也已經從三十歲變成四十歲,我生命中最難熬的艱辛歲月,牠陪我走過,這也是我生命中最多奇蹟感動的一段歷程,怎能不與牠共享成果?今年七月牠患上了所有上了年紀的「男人」都會有的「攝護腺肥大」,導致無法排尿排便,半夜緊急送醫才保住小命。醫生都說沒見過意志力這麼堅強的狗……大病初癒了,卻瘦了一大圈,後來在我「總統級」的細心呵護下,總算好轉過來,體重也增加了。

朋友經常會來我的家,每每只要見到果子狸就會自動充滿愛憐與疼惜,牠也似乎知道自己的「優勢」,經常會給初次見面的朋友一番磨蹭撒嬌。就連原本怕狗的人,都因牠而療癒了「狗狗恐懼症」。十年前牠剛到時,那時的我,對誰性子都不好,除了對牠,這份深情溫柔至今不改。怡婷說我是個好脾氣的人,這多少要歸功果子狸,牠對我毫無保留的愛,讓我把對牠的溫柔又擴大分享給每個人。

這樣的一隻狗,改變我的性格與命運,生命中能遇到幾個?又怎能不用性命去疼愛?畢竟身為一個「人類」,我有我的生活與工作,但牠的世界裡,可是只有我呀!我是牠的全部,而牠為我一生懸命!

曾經有幾次,牠的不假外出讓我擔心,也讓我費心找尋,但我卻不忍責備牠,畢竟牠用一生為我做的,比起我為牠的擔憂,多了不知多少倍!我從果子狸的眼睛裡看人類,我彷彿看到牠靈魂的純潔與慈悲。可惜的是讀得懂動物這份慈悲的人有限。知道嗎?人和動物最大的差別就是:動物永遠是動物,而人很多時候「不是人」!

地球上的動物被人類善待的太少!我們不僅蹂躪地球,我們也惡待動物。每天有多少動物活在人類給予的恐懼下?這並不是號稱萬物之靈的人類所該表現的。如果不能尊重生命、對生命有愛,我們憑何自恃?我們對動物要有更多的接納與認同、關注與保護,因為牠們保留了上帝所給予的純粹靈魂。

當你每次注視牠們的雙目,你都會聽見牠們在說:「我愛你!」。如果你不只是用眼睛看的話。

 

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Astrologers got it right when they say beneath that cold facade, Aquarius is a warm and passionate soul. I am a man of nostalgia, especially for those who fought beside me through thick and thin. Back when I was living in a shoe-box sized apartment and had only NT$50 in my pocket, all I could afford was a NT$39 lunch box which I shared with Civet Cat who thoroughly enjoyed it. One year, our New Year’s “banquet” was a pot of porridge and some minced meat but he was just as content. In the past decade, he stuck with me and kept me company when I struggled. He encouraged me every step of the way and never took credit when things went well. To me, he is not just an animal, but a son that I adore and pamper. When my life took a turn for the better, I made sure Civet Cat lived as comfortably as humans. He now has his own bowl, sunglasses, bed, helmet, even his own personal vet and groomer. I will never forget the support he shown me when I hit rock bottom. Without him, I wouldn’t be here today.

 

On a frigid raining November day in 2003, as when I was about to open my door to go home, I spotted a little wet dog shivering in a narrow alley across the street. At that time I was living in an apartment up in the hillside of Neihu. I have a natural affinity towards animals so I called him over. Although he has never met me before, he quickly scurried across the street and wagged his tail as I petted his head. When I saw he was collarless, I said to myself, “I will keep you if you come home with me on your own.” God knew that I could barely keep myself alive but this little fellow still came straight into my apartment. This was the first time I discovered we had a special bond. At that time, I was still learning how to hold myself accountable to the commitments I have made, even if it meant keeping a promise to a dog or delivering on pledge I never uttered out loud. I quickly made arrangement for his stay. First I took him to the groomer and the vet to scan for a chip and that’s how I found out he was registered to someone. As much as I liked him, there was no way I could steal someone else’s dog.

 

It turned out he belonged to a middle-aged man in his 50’s. As soon I mentioned about the dog, he cut me off and said, “that dog knows no loyalty. He is always roaming around outside. If you want him, he is yours!” But in my heart I rebutted the man thinking the level of a dog’s loyalty is a reflection how is he is treated by the owner. Without giving a second thought, I accepted his offer and left my number with him. A week later, a young girl called claiming to be the dog’s real owner. It turns out the dog was her’s which she named him “Bao Bao” (English translation: baby). The man was her brother-in-law. She had to leave the dog with him because she was living in a university dorm. Unfortunately, the man didn’t like dogs so he just let Bao Bao wonder around like a feral dog who never knew when and where is the next meal would come from.

 

This girl was a dog-lover and all she wanted was to find Bao Bao a loving home and that’s why she called me to make sure I was fully committed. I reassured her that once I decide to have a dog, I would love it with all my heart or else I would never have one. Till this day, I kept that promise. For ten years, I have showered Civet with love. I haven’t never heard back from that girl again. I imagine she is now all grown up and maybe even has a family of her own. I wonder if she still remembers her rueful voice when she implored me to take care of her baby.

 

Bap Bao came to my life when he was only 8-months old. The vet said he was one of those rare tricolor border collies with a panda-like face,  and a white patch on the chest. With a strip of white hair between his round dark eyes, he looks just like a Formosan Masked Civet and that’s how he got his new name, Civet cat.

 

Civet is an highly intelligent dog. He spent his first week silently observing his new environment and me. He never barked. He was so quiet that I wondered if he was mute. After a week, he began to display every “wild behavior” that a puppy has. He went through the garbage can, gnawed on the slippers, and destroyed furniture. The house needed a major clean-up each I came home but to me, it was nothing I couldn’t tolerate.

 

At that time, I was doing everything I could to salvage my dying business. I was under tremendous stress and all I wanted to do when I came home was to relax. But although Civet caused trouble everyday, I never had the heart to scold him whenever he flashes his signature innocent puppy look. No matter how exhausted, I am always happy to take him out on walks after I clean up the house. In fact, it was him that walks me because he decides where we went. I get plenty of exercise each time we go out. Civet is curious about everything and wants to sniff everywhere. He would drag me to a tree and just when I thought he finally found the spot to relief himself, he would refuse to lift his leg. He extends his outside time by going to the bathroom seven or eight times when three times would have done the job. Till now, we haven’t gone on a walk that was under 3 kilometers.

 

Before I met him, my life was in shamble. He appeared when I was facing the darkest hours of my life. I was beaten by life and squashed by my own mistakes. I became cynical and scornful that I complained about everything and blamed anyone but me. I was pushed to the brim and was a hairline away from exploding. But Civet opened my heart which I have locked up and thrown away the key. He changed the way I view the world. Without him, I would not be here today. I often talk to him because I know he understands and responds.

 

They say animals listens to people who still keep their inner child alive. My unfamiliarity of the secular world made me a failure in my job, but Civet rekindled my inner child and helped me to draw strength from within. He helped me understand that even when I am abandoned by my friends and family, I could always count on him.

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Civet never wants to go home after spending a day playing outside. Because he understands the concept of cross-walks, he always refuses to move when we get closer to the cross-walks because he knows it meant it was time to head home. The only way to get him moving again is if I decide to change direction. When my life went from bad to worse, I had no choice but to file bankruptcy and move to a smaller apartment near the Dadaocheng Pier. Whenever he snuck out, I would get so worried but he always came home by scratching on the door. I became less concerned when I realized he knew his way home. After observing him from a distance, I discovered that this fellow knows how to read light signals. Moreover, he is quite skilled at weaving in and out of the busy traffic so he can go have fun at the piers across the street.

 

I talked to him even more after I found how intelligent he was. He always listens with his head tilted to the side. I never spank him, except for the three times he peed on the bed. He loves to have the wind blow on his face. At that time, my mode of transportation was a hipster motorcycle with no place for him to stand. This meant in order to take him out for a ride, he had to plant his front paws on the gas tank with his hind legs firmly on my legs. Needless to say, he grabbed attention each time he was on the road. We were pulled over by the police several times, but instead of their usual harsh manner, the policemen were simply curious about Civet and often joked about giving him a ticket for not wearing a helmet. After a while, I decided to buy Civet his very own protective glasses and helmet and he is now looking more suave than ever.

 

It took Civet no time to recognize the different sounds of the engine. Now when we are about to make a turn, he knows to tilt his body to the opposite direction in order to maintain his balance. He also leans his body forward when we are about to take off so he wouldn’t slide backward. Needless to say, all this requires a high degree of understanding and chemistry between the rider and the dog. All those years when we had no one else but each other, we discovered each other’s strength and become more and more interdependent than ever. On one outing in July, Civet ran next to me as I cycled from the Dadaocheng Pier to Shezi Island. He pounded the pavement until he got blisters on his paws. But despite of the pain, he refused to be carried and insisted on walking home by himself.

 

Civet moved several times with me. Even though the neighbors hardly know me, they are all too familiar with him because of our daily walks. His cheerful disposition and sharp wits make him absolutely magnetic to anyone that meets him, which means many people end up sharing their food with him. The folks at the roast pork restaurant near by and the lamb hot pot place down the street often helped me to save money by preparing a feast for him. The fact is, he eats quite well at home but it seems he hasn’t shrugged off the habit he developed during his street days because he still begs strangers for food. Of course most people cave in when they see his round beautiful dark eyes or when he put his head on their laps. I truly believe he has the ability the stir up the most merciful side of any human souls.

 

I wonder why would this dog choose to stay with me when I was down on my luck? Even when I was penniless, we managed to create lots of fond memories. In my days of suffering, Civet have me hope, encouragement, and the motivation to carry on. My love for him became stronger and now we are inseparable.

 

Now at a ripe old age of 10, he is slowing losing his panda look as the colors begin to fade. But now, his eyes are full of the wisdom and strength that weren’t there when he was a puppy. The decade before my 40th birthday was the most difficult period of my life. But with his companionship, it was also the time when I witnessed countless of miracles. How can I not share all these goodness with him? Last July, he was diagnosed with the “old men” disease — enlarged prostrate which blocked his urinary tract. I had to rush him to the emergency room in the middle of the night. The doctors said they have never seen another dog with a stronger will to live. He has since recovered but he has also lost so much weight in the process. Under my top-notch VIP-quality care, Civet has bounced back to health and is now a rambunctious and energetic 10 year-old dog.

 

The friends who visit my house often always melt to pieces when they see Civet. He never fails to impress new friends by rubbing up against them. Even the friends who were afraid of dogs are now “cured” of their phobia because of him.

 

When I first met him 10 years ago, I was impatient with everyone except with him. Until this day I have maintained that gentleness. My girlfriend Yi-ting always praises me for having congenial personality. But all credits belong to Civet. Because he loves me so unconditionally, I am able amplify that love and share with everyone I meet. How often will anyone meet a dog that changes their personality and life for the better? There is no other way to love him except wholeheartedly. As a human, my world revolves around social gatherings and work. But in his world, I am all that he has. I am everything to him and in return, he has dedicated his life to me.

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Although there were times he had me worried sick for leaving the house, I have never reprimanded him. After all, my worries for him pale in comparison with what all the positive energy he has injected into my life. From Civet’s eyes, I see purity and the tenderness. Unfortunately, not many people can see clearly the goodness in animals. You know what is the biggest difference between humans and animals? Animals will always be animals but sometimes, humans can be so inhumane.

 

There are too few animals in the world that are treated kindly by humans. Humans are not only sabotaging the Earth, we are also mistreating the animals. Because of humans, so many animals live under constant fears. This is not at all the kind of behavior humans, or as some say, the smartest creature of all, should have. If we can’t respect or show love to other lives, then how can we sustain ourselves? We must learn to have more appreciation for animals and we must offer them more attention and protection because their souls have stay just as pure as God had intended.

Whenever you look into eyes of an animals, you will hear them say, “I love you.” But only if you are willing to look with more than just your eyes.

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