Some love cats, others love dogs, some think tarantulas make for great pets, and others would rather see them extinct. I love all—well, not the tarantula, but I have cats at home, and I grew up with dogs. Within weeks of being at site, a dog walked into my life, or I into his. He was skin and bones, snarling at the site of a person, had tics sprouting out all over him, one ear that flopped over, and was, like most dogs in this village---mean and unhappy. My neighbor really didn't want him, so I said what the hay—he'll tie me down a bit but I'll take him, clean him up, feed him, let him sleep outside and he'll hopefully protect me, but in no which way am I gonna fall in love, or even be friends with this dog. I'm not even gonna name him or teach him how to fetch a ball, ---yeah right! It took all of two days before he was named Keoki, one week before he was sleeping in the house, two weeks before I was completely in love, a month before he got what fun was like, and a few months before he understood english, at which time, our species differences vanished as we shared many moments of connected creaturehood.
Now, an African village dog is unlike an American dog, and owning my furry friend taught me great lessons in cultural integration. He taught me to be true to my own nature, authentic if you will---that there's no point in faking it because he and the villagers will sniff it out like a lion sniffs out an impala for dinner. He taught me that people are really strange, that it's kind of puzzling how we complicate life rather than simplifying it. He taught me always to keep 20% Wolf in me, because a person without a little wildness in 'em just ain't no fun. And he taught me to play more, that the game is irrelevant, just play!!! Overall, Keoki has been a great influence on my well being and happiness here, and after he was done with my lessons, he taught an entire village what true happiness looks like.
I didn't necessarily pamper Keoki, like American pampering per se, or like my friends John and Carol hysterically did by putting clothes on their little ones in the winter---totally competing with Botswana cultural logic. Nuh-uh, not Keoki, unless I had a NY Yankee T to put 'em in! I can't even imagine what was said by the Batswana in their village---I wish Carol could have been a fly on their walls to hear what the strange Americans did so we could all laugh until we cry!
Well anyway, as one sees, there is a great correlation between someone's dog and their personality. Keoki definitely is not the adorable, white little pup running around with a cashmere sweater on. He is a tail wagging, rambunctious, down to earth, athletic, no frills kind of guy who has earned his rightful place on this earth, and I'm glad to see I passed on some of these qualities. But in another month or so, he'll have to go back home, just like I will. I'll revisit the adventure in my mind, our battles when he tore up my organic veggie garden, our lively evening walks, etc.. all with bemused pride---but it is the loyalty, his head on my lap, his zest for life, and taking in the hot afternoon African sun that will stay with me forever.