Carla Abellana: Beauty and the Buddy
Interview by Gretchen Gatan
To mark the Year of the Dog, we partnered with Calyxta in honoring one of our favorite hoomans and animal advocate, Carla Abellana. Get to know her soft spot for dogs, and why she has so much love to give for just about every buddy.
Have you always been an animal lover?
Oh yes, definitely. It runs in the family. I grew up in a household filled with dogs. So, at one point, our family had over 30 dogs, and it didn’t end there. I had a pet chicken, a pet lizard, we had guinea pigs, my gosh! I had a pet duck, too. It wasn’t just cats and dogs. It was really animals in general. My grandmother was a dog lover, my mom, auntie, siblings—everyone in the family! We all loved animals ever since.
Do you remember your first pet?
I think it was a dog. I’m just not sure if it’s a dog that my dad gave, because even my dad and the Abellana side, they were all animal lovers. But my first pet—the one that I remember was a dog named Rocky. He was very loyal to me. He was a Toy Fox Terrier, he was black and white, very small, and he lived until he was 12 years old. He was the dog that I remember.
How old were you then?
I was in grade school.
How many dogs do you have now and what are their names?
I have three. One is a Jack Russell named Patches, a Welsh Corgi named Sunny, and a Yorkshire Terrier named Bubbly.
What are their personalities like?
(laughs) Sunny is an alpha male so regardless of where he is, he really projects his alpha-ness. It’s a bit of an issue but you know, I try to really discipline him. But he’s very gentle and playful. Patches is a naughty dog, but she’s incredibly smart, and she’s easy to train. Bubbly is a spoiled lap dog—forever lap dog, easy to train, and the sweetest, most sensitive dog I’ve ever had.
And when they’re all together, how is that like?
Well, because Bubbly is a diva, she doesn’t like other dogs. She thinks she’s a person. She doesn’t think she’s a dog. So she doesn’t play with the other two. Patches and Sunny are like brother and sister so they’re very close and they play a lot. But sometimes, they get into fights. They try to really reach out to Bubbly but since Bubbly is very, “Get away from me,” she doesn’t play with them. So, it’s just the two. But all three are okay! They just can’t be put together. (laughs)
What was it like meeting them for the first time?
Oh my gosh, yeah! Patches was a gift from my step-dad. I was going through a difficult phase in my career a few years back. I was starting out in show business at that time. So I was shocked when all of a sudden, when I came home from work one time, there was a small crate at home with a Jack Russell puppy. So you know, he was kind enough to understand what I was going through at that time and knew that when it came to me, automatic a dog would make me happy. (laughs) And then Sunny, I really looked for a breeder—a local Welsh Corgi breeder. I found one from Quezon City and then, it was love at first sight. You know when they say that it’s the dog that chooses you? That’s what happened. I was waiting in the living room of the breeder, and it was a quiet night, and then all of a sudden, a puppy, (a Welsh Corgi puppy) comes out from the kitchen and starts approaching me in the living room. So he was the one who went near me, and he was alone. I think he got to sneak out from somewhere and he was the one who walked up to me—I’ll never forget that. He was very small. I had to wait for maybe three more months before I could really bring him home. Bubbly is actually Tom’s (my boyfriend) Yorkshire Terrier. She’s turning five. Because dogs aren’t allowed in his condo, she stays most of the time with me. So sorry, Bubbly is mommy’s dog now. She’s no longer daddy’s dog. (laughs) I met Bubbly, she was still a puppy, but it wasn’t until she was maybe three already when she started staying with me.
"It’s a different fulfillment and joy when you have pets, when you have dogs"
What’s your favorite thing about having them around?
It’s the best feeling in the world! Because they never judge you, they’re sensitive to your feelings, even if they don’t understand everything, they take away all your stress and sadness. It’s like having a child—you have to be responsible. But it’s a different feeling. It’s a different fulfillment and joy when you have pets, when you have dogs.
You mentioned a while ago that you already experienced losing a pet. How did
you cope with it?
Very painful because you know, a dog spends his or her entire life with you, and of course, they have short life spans. So if you’ve witnessed them grow up from puppy to adulthood, all the way until they reach their entire lifetime of about 10 or 15 years, it’s painful. Well, in my case, it was painful losing Rocky, my very first one, because I was at work. I was at a fashion show for Bench at that time, and he didn’t show any signs of illness—no pain, no suffering, or anything. It was very sudden. It was unexpected; his death was unexpected. I remember I was getting prepared for the fashion show, so hair and makeup were being done, and then my sister calls me and tells me, “Rocky’s gone. I just got home, I even saw him, and then when I went out of the room, wala na. He was already gone.” So I said, “Whaaat?” It was especially difficult because it was so unexpected and I was at work. I couldn’t just leave then and there. I couldn’t do anything. I was helpless. I was crying hard. My makeup couldn’t even be finished because I was in tears. I had to wait until late in the evening, until the fashion show finished, so I could come home. It was very painful because he was my dog. He was very loyal, he was protective, he was smart. I’ll never forget Rocky. He was really part of the family. Coming home, seeing him all wrapped up already in cloth, it was painful. You’ll really cry for days because it’s like losing a family member.
For you, what’s the biggest challenge of taking care of dogs?
It’s really like taking care of a child. Well, most people have pets just for the sake of, you know, the fun of it. But not a lot of people realize that it comes with a huge responsibility. So you know, it’s like having your own child—you bring them to the doctor, they get their vaccinations and their shots, they also get ill, you have to have them treated, you have to be particular with what they eat, with the amount of exercise that they get, you have to discipline them, and stuff like that! So it’s tough, but it’s very fulfilling.
Last question for this part of the cover story, what’s a normal day like with you and your buddies?
Well, if I stay home and if I don’t have work, I would just stay in bed with Bubbly. I would come down to play with Sunny and Patches—they’re not allowed in my room. But sometimes, I bring them to the room, but they’d rather stay outside because they’re more of outdoor pets. I play with Sunny and Patches, so whenever I’m downstairs for lunch or for dinner, I stay with them. I feed them, I watch them finish their food because if I don’t watch them, they won’t finish their food. Sometimes they fight, so that’s the time I discipline them, and then that’s it! I stay all day at home with the dogs. I give them time to sleep, and they give me time to sleep as well. And there’s always play time in between.
This interview originally appears on Calyxta's February Cover Story which is published at http://bit.ly/2ojsAi4
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