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‘Pacman,’ the dog, is retired

He might no longer be able to perform the job he’d been doing for more than 10 years but Manny Pacquiao’s long-time training companion, Pacman, the dog, remains loyal to his boss up to this present time.

Since Pacquiao’s camp was moved to General Santos City in preparation for his coming fight with World Boxing Association welterweight champion Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse, Pacman, has been by his side daily, nodding in approval in whenever the latter does his things right, and shaking his head when he does them wrong.

The world’s only eight-division titlist is seeking Matthysse’s 147-pound crown in that 12-round showdown with the Argentine belt-holder July 14 (July 15 in Manila) at the Axiata Arena in Malaysia’s capital city of Kuala Lumpur.

From the time Pacman was acquired by Pacquiao from original owner, bosom pal and now chief trainer Buboy Fernandez, the celebrated canine had been the former Sarangani two-time congressman’s running mate, pacer during roadwork while preparing for a fight whether in Kennon Road or Marcos Highway or Forbes Park circuit in the Philippines.

Or Griffith Park and the University of California-Los Angeles oval in L.A. Or the University of Las Vegas-Nevada track. Wherever.

Pacman started to be missed by fans in 2016 during his boss’ preparation for his date with Mexican-American Jessie Vargas from whom Pacquiao recaptured the welterweight belt after losing the same to unbeaten American Floyd Mayweather Jr. a year before.

“Pacman’s been retired. Hindi na isinama ni Manny mula noon. Kasi matanda na raw at mahina na. Hindi na makasunod sa pagtakbo, ” Noel Lautengco, Jinkee’s (Pacquiao’s wife) uncle-in-law and Pacman’s adopted father, confessed then.

“Ako na ang naging tagapag-alaga in Pacman mula nang mahingi siya ni Manny kay Buboy noong 2006,“ Lautengco told this writer when asked more than a month after Pacquiao started training in Manila and fans started missing him.

“Mula nga noong magsimula si Manny ng ensayo sa Manila pa lang noong training kay Vargas, ang dami nang nagtatanong kung bakit hindi na kasama si Pacman sa ensayo, lalo sa pagtakbo,” Lautengco, husband of Jinkee’s aunt Marlene, recalled.

Since Pacquiao acquired Pacman, the canine has been shuttling back and forth from Los Angeles, where Lautengco was based, to the country whenever he trained in the process earning the sobriquet “the most traveled dog in the world.”

When in the Philippines, Pacman stayed and slept in the masters’ room of Pacquio and Jinkee. He even often shared the bed with the ring icon when Jinkee wasn’t around. When running time came, Pacman himself woke Pacquiao up Lautengco swore.

“Nakalulungkot nga, imagine more than 10 years ko siyang alaga, dinadala sa Maynila kapag kailangan at ibinabalik sa L.A.,” Lautengco said.

Nobody can say if Pacman will join the trip to Kuala Lumpur in this coming fight but if Lautengco will, have his way, the dog should.

“If I have my say nga, dapat isama kasi isa sa mga good luck charm ni Manny si Pacman,“ he said.

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