At four months old, Tomtom’s first mission was to patrol their village in Purok Matinabangon (Helpful), Barangay Ubaldo Laya here when the enhanced community quarantine was imposed in the city to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
He was with a group of Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team (BPAT) who are tasked with guarding the village during nighttime, making sure no one would violate the curfew hours and the community quarantine policies.
Tomtom is a dog with a mixed breed but his owner, Morris Niasca, said it did not concern which particular breed his companion belongs.
“Actually, I did not mind about breeding. I got him from a friend because I wanted to have a buddy,” Niasca told the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday.
In 2008, Niasca’s wife died of illness. His only child, now a grownup, lives in Davao City. Although he lives with his mother and two nephews, he wanted to have a companion–especially during his night watch duty being a BPAT member.
“When he was a little puppy, he would sleep beside me. Now that he has already grown up, he prefers to sleep at my feet,” Niasca said.
Niasca named Tomtom from the popular cartoon show, Tom and Jerry.
“I always heard that title (of the program) and I find it cute,” Niasca quipped.
When the 22-member BPAT in Purok Matinabangon was reactivated in March to be deployed every night to monitor community quarantine compliance among residents, Niasca could not leave Tomtom home.
The dog would look for his owner and, fearing Tomtom would go outside and get lost, Niasca decided to tag the dog along.
“I have to bring him when I am roving around and he likes going with us,” Niasca said.
Tomtom has no proper training as the other trained canine used by policemen but his owner said his furry buddy has protective instincts and is loved by the neighborhood.
“He is very helpful like when somebody wanted to destroy the barricade that we put at the entrance and exit points, he would bark until we take notice of any incident,” said Wilson Areola, one of the BPAT personnel.
After days of going with the peacekeeping action team, a barangay councilor decided to “issue” an identification card for Tomtom.
“He is treated as our fellow BPAT member. When we rest, he will also rest. When we take our evening coffee, we also give him something to eat,” Areola added.
For the people in the community, Tomtom might be an ordinary dog but when they saw him walking by without the owner, they would treat him as their “bantay” (guard), especially during night time, Areola said. (PNA)
Photo Source: PNA/Divina M. Suson