Kabang: From A Regular Aspin To An Extraordinary Canine Hero

Aspins, in the Philippines, do not usually catch the eyes of many people. Compared to how other countries treat their local dogs, Aspins are what you might say a low-class breed. Owners will not usually feel proud of owning an Aspin compared to owning a shih tzu, poodle, mini pincher and other popular breeds. To counter-perceive political incorrectness, the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) has suggested the alternative term Aspin, short for asong Pinoy (Pinoy dog).

Meet The Aspin

Locals usually neglect Aspins. These poor dogs are left in the rain or under the sun without proper shelter. Very few of them experience being treated as a family member. Moreover, Aspins are usually not given the right kind and amount of food. For some owners, feeding them once or twice a day is more than enough.

You can say that the life of an Aspin is difficult but before more people belittle this breed, let us know more about them. Aspins are usually mixed from pure breeds and local breeds. When it comes to appearance, they are well balanced, very agile and graceful. They are inherently aloof to strangers but are very friendly and caring to their human family. These medium-sized canines are commonly used as companion dogs for hunting.

The main reason why Kabang was able to save her little masters from the rushing motorcycle was because of these traits. As a consequence of her heroic act, she has brought the breed into the spotlight. Thus, people are now learning to appreciate Aspins more.

The Story of Kabang

Kabang and the kid

KABANG in the company of a grandson of her masters at Pasonanca Park in Zamboanga City. PHOTO BY DR. ANTON LIM/TZU CHI FOUNDATION/CONTRIBUTOR

Kabang is a Visayan terminology that means “spotty”. However, after her heroic deed, the word Kabang is more than just a name. It now pertains to a hero Aspin. Here’s the story that inspired people to take a second look at Aspins.

In December of 2011, cousins Princess Diansing, 3 years old, and Dina Bunggal, 9 years old, were trying to cross the busy street of Nuñez Extension. Unknowingly, a speeding motorcycle was heading right at the young children. Witnesses, including Dina’s father who was working at a nearby vulcanizing shop, tried to save the kids but Kabang emerged out of nowhere and beat him to it. She jumped at the wheels of the motorcycle changing its path and leaving the children and the motorcycle driver safe.

Because of the power of the World Wide Web, the heroic deed of this amazing Aspin spread all over the internet. Having headlines such as “was hailed a hero after she threw herself in the path of a speeding motorcycle, saving the life of the two young girls”

Jovito Urpiano, an eyewitness, was spending his noontime break in an eatery. He saw how Kabang came to the little girls’ rescue. Unfortunately, Kabang’s head landed on the front wheel of the motorcycle and got its snout stuck as it rolled. Urpiano said that at first, he thought that somebody might have thrown the dog to the street. But later on, he realized that the dog came rushing in to save the children.

Rudy Bunggal, an eyewitness and Dina’s father, said that Kabang’s upper snout was badly damaged as the bones holding it was crushed. He said that the only thing that they can do was to pull the dog out of the wheel. Once freed, Kabang quickly ran away and didn’t come home for two weeks. The family said that she looked different when she returned.

Rudy said that it doesn’t matter how she looks. Kabang saved his daughter and his niece and they could not thank her enough. Cristina, Rudy’s wife, also said that Kabang is a hero. The family was very happy that Kabang was finally home.

Kabang’s Relationship With The Kids

Rudy said that he found Kabang as a puppy near their home and fed her with milk and porridge. She was raised with love just as if she was a member of the family. For Rudy and Cristina, buying milk for the dog was really something as their combined salary is only Php150 a day. Despite this, Kabang is was family and they didn’t mind buying her milk at all.

Kabang is hero

In this August 12, 2012 photo provided by the University of California (UC) Davis, a Bunggal family member plays with Kabang, the hero dog from the Philippines. (AP Photo/UC Davis, Anton Lim)

Kabang grew up with her two-legged siblings. She plays with the young children and even sleeps with them on the same bed. Needless to say, Kabang is very close to the children and this is what is believed to have triggered her heroic deed. She also doesn’t have any history of venturing out of the house, which is why the family were greatly surprised to see her dash out to save the children.

Offer To Be Euthanized

Despite her greatness, Kabang also got a very sad offer from the city pound. Because of how she looks, the Bunggal family was offered to have Kabang euthanized. However, Rudy checked Kabang and believed that she’s not hurt or ill. He and his family declined the offer and stood up to take care of Kabang.

Kabang In The US

Anton Lim, the veterinarian from Tzu Chi Foundation, helped with Kabang’s treatment. After giving birth to healthy little pups, he also accompanied the dog to the US. Kabang has adapted well to the cold weather in the United States where she will soon undergo treatment.

Kabang in the United States

(l to r) Dr. Anton Lim, Dr. Boaz Arzi and Dr. Amy Fulton work with Kabang to finish during the intake exam for Kabang at Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis on Thursday October 11, 2012. Kabang, the hero dog from the Philippines, sustained her injury when saving children from an oncoming motorcycle. The veterinaries hope to close her wound with skin.

The hospital staff said in a press conference that they can’t remember ever seeing a case like that of Kabang.

Being a dog lover myself, I never get tired of reading nice and heartwarming stories of man’s best friend. I also like how Kabang changed the views of many people about Aspins. These dogs don’t deserve to be left out in the rain and they never deserve to be maltreated. Most of the time, they have better traits compared to the popular breeds. They have a knack for understanding humans more. Moreover, they know the best way to show their gratitude to their beloved humans.

Kabang receiving medical attention

(Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/ UC Davis) Dr. Anton Lim and veterinary medical student Heather Kennedy check on Kabang’s health during an intake exam at the William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at UC Davis

To be able to earn $20, 000 in donations for her surgery via careforkabang.com, Kabang must have really touch the hearts of many people so much so that it prompted individuals like Karen Kenngott, a nurse, to spear head the fundraising. She must really be an extraordinary canine hero. As of now, I am one of those millions of people waiting for updates and results of Kabang’s surgery. We’re hoping for only the best for this very special Aspin. This is just another inspiring tale of an uninsured street dog from the Philippines receiving expensive, state-of-the-art health care in America.