To All The Dogs I Have Loved Before (Relax, I Mean Actual Dogs)
I think I’m a dog person-mostly because the only pets I have ever owned were dogs and mostly because my dad hated cats and my mother wouldn’t let me get a rabbit when I wanted one. So much for diversity, parents. But I do love dogs, always have.
The first dog I ever interacted with was Shumba. Shumba was my grandpa’s dog and this was back when I lived with my grandparents and what was so cool about him was he was older than me-I think he was even older than my sister, there was some Math around it and he was like a month or so older than her. Shumba was cool, I mean he was jet black and super furry and I am sorry I am not white enough to know dog breeds by their names. He was all black and he was scary…and second thoughts, maybe my grandpa kept a wolf-I don’t know.
The most impressive thing about him was how smart he was-and he just didn’t bite kids. He would rough you up a little, rolling you on the ground then he would let you go your merry way. Being as smart as he was also meant he was kind of a snob…the only person he would listen to was my grandpa, the only person who could feed him was my grandpa, the only person who could bathe him was my grandpa. They loved each other-then Shumba died when he was 12 and I was 9. Sad. We had to bury him at our house because we had more space. My grandpa got dogs after that but it just wasn’t the same.
The first dog we had at our home was Rasco. Now Rasco was a pet, he wasn’t a guard dog. Here’s Rasco’s backstory. Rasco was our neighbours’ dog, he literally used to babysit their kids when they were away. But then the neighbours had to move overseas and I think Rasco was a little old to fly-so they gifted us their very tame, babysitting dog. He grew up when dog biscuits were still dog biscuits- hayi lamanyala akoLobels-I know because Rasco and I shared dog biscuits, it was our bonding time. Rasco was cool, calm like an old wise uncle. I think he was more my brother’s dog than anyone else’s. They had these cool tricks that they used to do together and I was jealous. A few years after we got him, Rasco fell into a ditch and we couldn’t save him.
Just after we got Rasco, we had Rambo-I hated Rambo and I take no judgement for it. He was an odd dog-also a gift from a neighbour, different neighbour. I think our neighbour thought giving us Rambo was funny. I believe he may have been a stray at some point and that made him deathly terrified of people. You hear that? A dog that’s afraid of people? So a) you can’ t protect us from thieves because the minute they walk in, you’ll run and b) you can’t offer us cheer because you’re afraid of us too? So why exactly are you here? I’ll explain the part about bringing cheer. I was always the baby in the family, and I felt it was my duty to bring joy and laughter to the household…but I was getting old and I knew it-I was like 7 and knew I wouldn’t be cute much longer, someone had to takeover the cheer part-Rambo wasn’t living up to the task. He got sick and died about a year later.
I was 8 when I got my first puppy. I remember my dad saying we had to go and pick one from a neighbour’s litter. That’s when I saw Tiger Bravestar Ncube-yes he had a middle name and a birth certificate-I was a responsible parent. I doted on Tiger, I felt he was a statement from my parents-an assurance that I was responsible enough to take care of a dog. And I was. I fed him, I bathed him, I picked up dog poo…and I taught him how to bark. You what Nkosi? Yes I taught a dog how to bark. I would kneel in front of his little kennel and bark at him-he wouldn’t bark back of course because he was taking in all my barking knowledge and wisdom. Then one day he just did, he barked and I had to jot that down in his report card. I had made a report card for him that I showed my parents so they knew I was raising their grandpuppy well. Tiger was mature-possibly the humanest dog we have ever had. We had him for 7 years before he died. I was at school when he died but I knew from the letter that my sister had written that he was gone. I cried and people thought it was ridiculous. But I loved that kid, he may have barky and furry but he was mine.
My sister is the only person I know with a mind darker and more twisted than mine. As soon as we have had a dog for like 2 years-she starts talking about succession plans. She says dogs don’t live forever and it’s good to have the older dog teach the younger dog-or something, I don’t know how that girl’s mind works. Anyway when Tiger was 2 or so, we got Fluffy-who was, you know Fluffy. He and Tiger were blood brothers, we got him from the same neighbour. Fluffy went through the same drill, he got a birth certificate, and a report card and was taught how to bark. His training was a little hands off because my sister and I had been shipped to boarding school. So Fluffy grew up without a stern parental figure i.e me and like most children raised by grandparents…he came out a little spoilt. He picked on Tiger and ignored instruction all the time, but he was cute and had blue eyes and we loved him. His indiscipline may have cost him his life. He managed to sneak out of the house sometime and he came back the next day. I don’t know what he did when he was out but he died just two days after his return.
After Tiger died, we got Lexxie and Terry aka Brownie and Blackie aka Pookerish and her brother. They were twins but Terry aka Blackie aka Pookerish’s brothern died at infancy. Then we were left with Lexxie. She is such a doll, really affectionate, really ladylike, watches her weight and stuff-I kid you not. She is the longest surviving dog we’ve ever had, maybe coz she is the only female dog we have ever had. But I think her mindset is the reason why she has lived so long, she is kind, she is polite, she minds her business most times.
Then came Chubbs. Sometime in 2017, my dad came from home and called me to the garage and he showed me the box he had brought. In it was the cutest little puppy I had ever seen. He was round and naturally had puppy dog eyes. The best part? There was no dogpoo in his box? Imagine that? a puppy that doesn’t poop just anywhere.
Chubbs was an independent dog when he came to us and I remember my dad stressing, “don’t turn him into a toy” and we didn’t. Guy’s got a temper, guy hates visitors, guy hates people having fun without him. See, he is locked up half the time and should you walks past him looking happy about something, he will bark and jump and cause such a scene until you let him out. Yes-he understands how guilt works.
So if you made it to the end of this long post, thank you. I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate my furry babies, Lord knows I don’t do that enough. They’ve taught me valuable lessons. Shumba taught me that loyalty was earned. Rasco showed me how people need dogs as much as they need us if not more. Rambo taught me tolerance. Tiger taught me responsibilty. Fluffy taught me unconditional love. Pookerish teaches me how a lady behaves , trust me she’s got on that lock, she even walks fancy and Chubbs teaches me patience-did I tell you he put his paws all over my sister’s BAA outfit? Yeah he did that.