My dog from the Namibian Desert
We spent an exceptional
and privileged week in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia, with a bushman family.
Unfortunately they are very poor (in material riches) and their dogs basically
have to fend for themselves. We heard that 2 puppies had died during the night
due to hunger.
At night we sat around the warm fire, while they rhythmically wove their ancient song and dance into playful patterns, the moonlight and twinkling sky reaching into eternity. We heard a pitiful, fragile whimpering. A dog tied to a donkey cart all sad and desperately cold in the wintry breeze! Apparently tied up because of us being there & her extremely efficient ability to steal food! We convinced the bushman chief to let her curl up around the fire like the other dogs (their whiskers were actually singed in the mornings from lying closer and closer to the smoldering coals during the night).
I lost my heart to her. Extremely skinny (like all of them) the most graceful gentle creature with an air of nobility unlike any other dog I have ever encountered.
Her eyes a mix of honey & clay, golden ochre with an otherworldly intelligence & knowingness of mysteries.
Not as big as a greyhound, but very similar in build with long sinewy limbs and particularly long paws like a greyhound (when greeting her paws reaching up against my chest & neck)- she had a dainty way of trotting as if she was wearing high heels. Her
head looked like the Egyptian version of a jackal, and her ears like the African basenji dog (one of the oldest breeds of dogs).
We called her Anubis. At night I let her sleep in our tent with us,
under our blankets, intent on bringing her back to SA. We fed her eggs, cans of tuna, milk, bread, etc. and by the end of the week she was walking around with her tail happily wagging in the air as opposed to the initial miserable & listless drooping.
Unfortunately I found out that getting her through the border would be a problem without necessary papers.
I cried when we had to leave, but I promised her I would be back to fetch her as soon as I could. I left some money for dogfood for all the dogs (about 10), with a woman from the UK who had arrived that week to start an ambitious permaculture project in the Kalahari.
2 months later we went back to fetch Anubis. It was a crazy trip with breakdowns as well as getting stuck in the sand late at night surrounded by enormous scorpions, pitch black with massive tails....
Finally we arrived at our destination, after trying to find that specific little patch of sand amongst all the other patches... And there was my Anubis - as skinny as ever (all the dogs were - despite the money I had paid into the chief daughter's account for food, both for the bushmen & dogs and transport fare to get to the shops...) They told me she had nearly died from some insect that had bitten her on her
ear! Within a day of being there she had happily claimed us as her new owners, barking at her previous owners whenever they approached our tent, much to their & our surprise!
We took Anubis on her first road trip. She was so calm, unphased. We went to the closest town -called Gobabis (about 300km from where we had been staying with the bushmen, along sandy backroads) to get her necessary shots, where the local vet estimated her to be 2 years old (amazingly getting her
rabies shot, deworming tablets, and chillout pills for the journey only cost
She wore a dog leash and collar as if she had been born wearing them, and wherever we went the locals would stare and some would call loudly: JAKKALS HOND...! One woman gave me her address wanting a puppy when Jakkals Hond would have a litter.
It was a tale of hope and of keeping faith!!
The first time Anubis encountered a soft green lawn, she immediately started eating it. I would love to know what was going through her mind at that moment!
She slotted in unbelievably easily on our farm in SA (although Anubis cried real tears streaming down her face, the first time I went out for an evening 3 days after our arrival - My mom told me when I got back. I felt so bad
and was more careful about leaving her alone again until she was more settled.
I would take her & my other dogs on walks up the mountain.
She went from 7kg to 15kg - even her tail picked up weight!
Often while she was eating she would look up at me with a look of unbelievable gratefulness in her eyes. I was always telling her how much I loved her.
She was so sensitive - she would look desperately hurt and terribly insulted when chased off my couch. I let her sleep in my bedroom. I bought her a new grand collar, more suited to the African Egyptian princess she was, and had her microchipped. All was well and happy till dogs living on the farm, managed to cover Anubis while she was on heat. A month later I took her in to be sterilised (had
been stalling this unpleasant process) at a vet. She was so afraid of going in to the vet that morning, I felt tremendous guilt. I got a great sense that I was messing with something very sacred by having her unborn puppies removed &
fixing her... I had had such a strong sense that I should stay with her until they injected her...or that maybe I should just take her home... but I didn't...I lovingly stroked her and told her I would come fetch her later.
I was so looking forward all day to the time I would fetch this precious creature. I had actually counted the hours....
Before I was meant to fetch her, the vet phoned to say they had very bad news.
Anubis had died. She had an allergic reaction to the anaesthetics (apparently practically unheard of in dogs), which had caused her to stop breathing. They put her on a lung machine , but her heart stopped...I was devastated.
On my way to fetching her there was an incredibly long and thin whirlwind next to the road and as I passed it, it whirled across my car... I would like to believe this was my sand dog saying goodbye to the physical plane...
I carried her to the car in a box-she looked so small- everything intact - she still had her babies- the only real difference in her eyes:...it dawned on me how the eyes are the windows to our soul & just how precious and miraculous all of life is.... I took her out of the box and put her on the front seat with her head on my lap --I had kept my promise to her that I would fetch her... We dug a hole. I carried her and we buried her in our own sacred way. We cried. I cried all weekend. I have planted flowers on her grave. I miss her so much!
God uses natural phenomena like starry skies and whirlwinds to communicate with us. The Bible says, "Since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - His eternal power & divine nature - have been clearly seen, so that men are without any excuse." Romans 1, 20.
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