A post dedicated to Animals

HI THERE 🙂
The majority of blog posts I’ve written so far have focused on travel and art. However I thought it was worth mentioning that animals have always been intriguing, captivating and special to me. I recall being engrossed in animal shows, trying to understand and make sense of the gazelle that was captured and eaten alive. It used to bring me to tears everytime but even at that age, I never let anyone see. However I can think back to a time, I could not be older than three; looking at a family friend kill moths that were attracted to the lamp. I remember the kid rolling one into the bedsheet and staring at me, gauging my reaction. His smirk and the uncontrollable laughter that followed is ingrained in memory. It goes without saying, we were both on other ends of the emotional spectrum when it came to animals at that age. They say children are cruel, but I also know that these are the moments that teach us right from wrong and shape us in these formative years when parents aren’t around to scold us.

I believe one of the things that has shaped me into the person I am today is the fact that we always had dogs at home. I remember the day we brought home Sam and Chunks, two fat baby Rottweilers. We gave Sam his name, but Chunks retained hers from the breeder we got them from. I remember the first couple of steps they took in our yard, as they arrived at their forever home. I must have been under five years old at the time. It was at this time I learned lessons about bathing the pups, something I was not good at and even preparing their puppy chow. I remember my older brother checking the pup I had been assigned to dry and was surprised at how poorly the job was done. The poor pup must have been freezing but I suppose at that age, I did the best I could with the mental capacity I had.

Previous to that, we had this beautiful harlequin Great Dane called Raju. My mom talks about him like a legend. He was an escape artist who would terrorize the village when he got loose and kill the neighbour’s chickens and goats. Everyone would scamper anytime Raju got out the yard. My mom said he was as big as a young donkey. There was also Ridgeback called Hedwig that produced twenty one pups in one sitting. I remember this clearly since some were born prematurely and sickly. My family had to care for them on a daily basis. I was deathly afraid of the Great Dane due to his size. They had him before I was born. I only hear stories of how fast I used to exit the area whenever he was around. However I have one memory of seeing him and I regret to inform you that it was on the saddest of occasions, the end of his life. He hung himself during a thunderstorm when he tried to escape by jumping the fence as he was accustomed to doing. Unfortunately no one was home at the time to rescue him. This is the only memory I have of him since I am sure I hid my eyes in fear on all other occasions. I remember standing on the backstep looking in the distance at Raju still attached to his chain. This memory serves as a marker in time.

On a brighter note, when the rots made pups, I always got attached to them. I would spend everyday after school in the yard, feeding and playing with them. It was my pleasure to do so. I remember the smell of their breath, their soft paws and cute wagging tails. It was always an important milestone when they became cognizant enough to acknowledge my presence and would stumble towards me when I called. This was the moment I truly had a new playmate and partner in crime. I held them like human babies most of the time. This cycle repeated itself as the years rolled on and there were various litters of pups that afforded me the opportunity to become a caretaker alongside their mother, who always trusted us with her offspring. Chunks was a smart, caring mom. There was one time I cried so much when it was time to give them away, my parents decided that they needed to buy me a new dog to ease my sorrow. I must have cried for a week. I remember the excitement of looking in the classifieds, knowing soon I would have my Own new dog. I wanted a poodle.

Somehow or the other we found a mixed breed terrier/poodle/pompek, or something of that nature, since I don’t really remember. We went to the owners house where they told me to choose one. I don’t recall how many pups there were but I lifted one and said “it’s light.” My parents laughed and that’s how I obtained my first dog which I called Nefertiti or Nefer-ity for short. She was pure black with curly hair like mine, she also had a little white beard. The hair covered her eyes which were dark and very large. I always wondered how she was able to see through the mass of curls. My parents reminded me of the many ways I terrorized her, I once made her shoes that made her walk funny, I removed her shaking tooth and would blow on her nose since it always made her sneeze. I would also tickle her till she was angry. We had a lot of fun together, or so I thought and she would always jump to greet me everyday when I came home from school. She loved to dig holes, and it was common to find her with brown sand on her nose as she sat in her creation in the midday sun.

Neferity and I

Nefertiti would go on to have a litter of pups of her own, she became so fat, she could no longer pass through the wrought iron bars to sleep under the chairs in the gallery during the day. I remember asking every lunch time when I came home from school, if she made the babies as yet. But it happened at night when we were all asleep. Something very special happened. Nefertiti usually slept in an iron kennel with clothes which she arranged herself every night before she slept. However on this particular night when she went into labor, the pup fell through the cage. It was the usual custom to have the bigger dogs out at night, Sam and Chunks.

My parents awoke to the sound of a puppy crying outside their window. Chunks the rot, had taken the pup in her mouth since Neferity was locked in the kennel. She brought it to the other side of the house where my parents slept. My parents were shocked to find this newborn so far from its mother in the middle of the night. The gentleness and intelligence of Chunks is one of the many amazing, noteworthy moments that demonstrated the profound nature of animals to me.

Rottweilers like many other dogs have bad reputations and are misunderstood due to their ‘vicious’ temperament. These huge bear like dogs are also highly intelligent, affectionate, sensitive and should not be judged simply by word of mouth associated with the breed as there are many common misconceptions and owners who do not know how to meet the needs of their dogs. I have personally witnessed some amazing moments having grown up with them. There are billions of other stories I can share since my family has never been without dogs.

But all in all, I have come to value the lives of animals as much as I would any other living being. I have even given up eating meat as a result. I have come to realize the deep love I feel for them should carry into all decisions I make on a daily basis. It goes without saying, my dogs have taught me unconditional love and made me a better person. Caring for an animal is a fulltime job since they get sick, can become hurt and require a lot of your attention. But I noticed while I am in service to them, they have given me more love, companionship and valuable life lessons than I could ever repay. People ask me what I miss the most about being away from home and the response usually surprises them. I have decided that I miss ‘doubles’ and my pets most of all : ) I think my family would understand that.