Morning walks with Baldrick used to be so fun and easy. Percy the puppy is now the same size – but with a brain the size of a pea. It’s not just that he’s a puppy, I’m sure he’s a bit dim.
Half kangaroo / half dog, he bounces up towards me every time I see him. I love his enthusiasm but his boundless energy wears me out. This nervous little puppy watches my every move, unlike Balders, who would happily let strangers climb over him as they entered the house. He would hardly lift his head.
That’s all changed now of course. With the appearance of a rival, Baldrick feels the need to assert himself on a regular basis. Top Dog is now a good guard dog too – he’s finally earning his keep! Luckily he has a dignified bark (not like that annoying thing in the compound opposite that barks in the middle of the night, every night).
I can trust Baldrick. I know that if he chases a chicken or a goat, he will stop short of trying to kill it. He does a U-turn right at the last second, with a cheeky look on his face, as the goat or chicken leaps / squawks into the air. With Percy, it’s a different matter; you can tell that ‘mouth on legs’ won’t stop running; the needle-sharp teeth will do their damage. Lord knows he gets through anything we leave lying around the compound. Last week he ate my lovely tyre cover! Last night he chewed a big hole in the new dog blanket!
I have a problem with my hands, so the last thing I want on my relaxing morning walk is to have them pulled out of their sockets by an overexcited puppy straining at the leash.
As we turn a corner close to the Lake, we see a herd of long-horned Ankole cattle slowly walking towards us, accompanied by a motley bunch of yapping dogs, teeth barred. Baldrick is off the lead, jumping and playing. Everybody’s a new friend to this cool dog.
But as the cattle and dogs come closer, I see there’s no way we’re going to pass the herd without a fight, so I back off. (Caesar Milan would not approve; I’ve given off the wrong message, giving up my space to these dogs) but Percy whines and fusses and yanks hard on the leash. It feel like my fingers are being cut off by the cheesewire-like thread of the nylon leash. (I’ve taken to buy the cheapest I can; Percy’s sliced through four already).
We backtrack a few feet, I call Baldrick over and we stand aside while the herd and pack of four overprotective dogs carry on down the path behind us.
The dogs of Bukasa are out in full force today. There’s another one watching us at the end of a narrow road. I’m not turning back now though. He’s a handsome devil, a Doberman with beautifully shaped ears, erect and alert as he sees us approach. He stakes his claim in the middle of the dirt road.
Two workmen watch us and call out to the dog, beckoning him to go back inside the building site. He doesn’t want to listen but eventually disappears from view.
Me and the boys walk by, Baldrick minding his own business, Percy whining again. As we turn the corner, I hear the tell-tale patter of a dog running up behind us, and three men shouting:
He pulls up short at the boundary of his territory and I turn to wave a thank you.
- Dogs have been a big part of my life in Uganda. Here are some of my favourite stories:
- Prizes for my ‘indigenous mix’ Baldrick wins first prize in the ‘dog with the waggiest tail’ competition!
- Early morning sights and sounds a wonderful way to start any day – watching the sunrise over Lake Victoria
- Percy the Rescue Puppy – the first 24 hours also introducing you to my very good friends Simpson and Ronald