Some Days Just Go To The Dogs!
We now have 20 rescue dogs in our project! Only 2 live with me - 9 year-old Bahati, which means lucky in Swahili (and he surely was when I rescued him as a tiny pup being mauled by a big dog), and 4 year-old Quinnie-Boy (found when he was the size of a small rat starving in the hedge).
Our other charges are all scattered throughout the project providing protection and companionship to our many families. All are loving and friendly, especially when they see me coming! My backpack is always full of treats, big juicy bones being the favorite. We also de-worm them, treat their wounds, make sure they have food and regular rabies vaccinations. Before placing a rescue dog with a family, we also neuter the males and give hormone shots to the females.
Kenya, like most African Countries, is not particularly dog friendly. The fear of being bitten and getting rabies is huge and most are terrified when they meet a dog on the road. It's also not part of their culture to have pets. As one African man told me "if you can't eat it, why feed it". They do like dogs as guard dogs but those animals are mainly forced to fend for themselves. It is hard for those of us raised to love our loyal companions to see the abuse. Sadly, you must harden yourself and just do what you can.
In our case, that means caring for abandoned or abused rescue pups and teaching our young (and old) students the responsibility and benefits of caring for another living thing. Our grandmothers and single mothers enjoy the sense of security and protection a dog provides, while our kids receive the unconditional love only a four legged friend can provide.
The other day was definitely a Doggie Day Sunday. Sunday is often the day I walk around checking on dogs and handing out big bones. Most Africans spend the day in church (I'd say it was quiet and peaceful but the amplified noise coming from said churches is anything but peaceful.)
The day started innocently enough. I walked Bahati and Quinnie over to the Wana Duma compound for the day. They play with old man Blackberry, now 14, Panya, which means rat/mouse because she looked like one when we rescued her (more dead then alive) and the two new pups, Kimmie-Girl and Billy-Bob, roughly 4 months old.
On my way home my neighbor dog, Momma Dog, pops out of the hedge when she hears me. She has two bad cuts bleeding over her eyes. Looks like she got caught in chicken wire. She insisted on following me and lets me know she's hungry. After feeding her and treating her wounds I give her a bone and send her on her merry way. I then grab a few more bones and head down the road to check on Blacky boy and Blacky girl and a small pup. The larger dogs coming running to greet me and snag their bone, the pup is tangled in barbed wire! I get her sorted out and give her a bone too...she just has minor scratches and is ok.
I get back to the house and pack up to head to Eco Village to check on the irrigation and crops. Our wonderful new solar water pump keeps our crops growing even as we await the rains. Everything around our little haven is dying. This has created another problem. With all the dying vegetation surrounding our now lush crops the hungry wildlife has found us! Mr. Porcupine is having a field day in the potato patch and dik-dik – smallest antelope in the world (the size of a chihuahua) - have discovered the cabbage and spinach!
I wander down to check the damage. Followed closely by our 3 Eco-Village dogs - Jane, Beanie and Jupiter. I notice that Jupie is limping so when I return to the truck I check out his paw. Turns out his dewclaw had grown into the pad of his paw...poor guy! The neighbor, a retired vet, was visiting. He has some experience with dogs and likes them (thank goodness), but none of us had the proper tools to cut the nail. So we rushed back to town and got all the proper tools and medicine to treat the infection. I am happy to report he is in great shape once again!
A big shout out of THANKS to Dr. Ron, our US Vet friend, who has donated all kinds of treatments and instructions so I can care for the animals!
My dogs are a great source of companionship to me being so far away from loved ones for such long stretches at a time. It feels good to return the love!