Warning – this post contains an overload of cuteness! In fact, the cuteness level is off the scale…
Have you ever done that thing where you go out to buy something and come home with something else? One of our family legends is when someone (who shall remain nameless), went out to buy a doormat and came back with a video camera!
Well a few days ago, Lamin went out to buy bread for breakfast – we have to buy it fresh each morning, as the bread here doesn’t contain preservatives so it goes hard very quickly. As I came across the compound from the well, I could hear our dog Tiger growling. This was unusual, because although she’s a very good guard dog and barks loudly if anyone comes into the compound, she’s also very friendly.
Most Gambian dogs are very independent – they’re guard dogs, not pets, so they don’t expect to be fussed and stroked. But Tiger is different – she loves to curl up under my chair when I’m working, and will often come up and nudge my hand to get a quick scratch behind the ears.
As I got back to the house, I saw what all the fuss was about. Lamin had brought back a VERY small (and rather gorgeous) puppy.
Tiger, needless to say, was less than impressed.
We’ve had Tiger for several years, but Lamin normally has at least two dogs. They’re company for each other, and it also adds to the general security to have two dogs barking at strangers and visitors. Lamin had been saying for a while that we should get another dog, and one day Dodou saw that our neighbour’s dog had given birth to puppies. He asked her to keep one for him, so Lamin had gone to check out the litter and choose one.
I know I’m biased, but she is very beautiful. Most African dogs are much the same (mid-sized, brown in colour, and with similar features), but this little puppy is white. Of course, it was a bit of a shock to her system to be taken from her mum and dragged somewhere completely new, so she spent the first day yowling and crying, except for when she fell asleep on my foot as I was working.
Over the next few days, Tiger gradually reached a grudging acceptance, only growling seriously if the new dog went near her food, which is fair enough. And Lucky (that’s now her name), became more confident. She began to explore the compound a bit more, although her favourite spot is curled up on the doormat – because she’s usually hidden behind the door curtain, we’ve already tripped over her more than once!
She’s also begun to play. This morning she decided it was good fun to run round and round me in circles as I walked, so of course, I nearly trod on her several times. She’s taken a liking to our shoes (why do puppies always want to chew shoes?), so we’re constantly having to hunt for a sandal or flip-flop that’s gone walkabout. And she’s getting very good at sneaking into the house when Lamin’s not looking – the dogs are supposed to stay outside, but no-one’s told Lucky. I’m inclined to look the other way when she sneaks in!
So now our new arrival is getting well settled in and is already part of the family.
I wrote this post over a week ago, intending to upload it. But a few days ago our lovely dog Tiger died. About four weeks ago, she seemed to be very subdued and in a lot of pain during the evening. She clearly found it difficult to walk, and when Lamin examined her back leg she yelped loudly, although she didn’t have any external injuries. We thought maybe she’d been hit by a car – that happened to her once before, but she survived. However, there are no vets here, so we just had to wait and see what happened.
For several days, she lay on one of the benches and barely moved. She would eat if we took her food to her, but didn’t seem able to walk to get it. At night, she curled up in one of our plastic chairs. Then she seemed to recover, began walking and eating again, and seemed OK.
But a week ago she started going downhill and stopped eating. She lost weight very quickly, and she looked very unhappy, although she still came to have her ears scratched from time to time. She was clearly having trouble breathing, and eventually she just laid down without moving. Lamin moved her out of the sun and into our restaurant area as it’s cooler there, and we just left her in peace, although we did check on her from time to time.
It was horrible to see her suffering and not be able to do anything – in the UK we could have taken her to the vet to be euthanised, but here we just had to let nature take its course. While we were eating dinner, we heard her whining, but by the time I went to see her after we’d eaten, she’d died.
Dogs do die quite commonly here, but I still feel very upset about Tiger. She was a lovely dog and I know I’ll miss her, although Lucky has already stolen a place in my heart too! So here’s a photo of Tiger in one of her favourite places – under my chair: