A very wealthy man once came with his dog to the clinic for medical attention but before he came, he had called me. I was really expecting a German shepherd dog or a Rottweiler but lo and behold it was our Nigerian local breed of dog. To be candid, I saw disappointed faces among my staff but I tried to be nice to the man by saying nice things about his dog. We still did our examination and clinical procedures and issued the man his bill which he cleared happily.
Out of curiosity, I asked him why he chose a Local dog. He answered: “I guess I have to answer this question for the rest of my life”. He narrated his story about all the dogs he ever acquired and the sad way they all died. He spoke long about a Caucasian breed he once owned that was more of a companion to him & the way he usually goes to evening walks with that dog. The death of that dog made him give up on keeping dogs entirely but on narrating his story to a friend, his friend told him that our local breeds hardly die of all these diseases so he considered getting one.
I thank God that most members of my staff heard the story. After the man left I raised the question: “But what is wrong with our Nigerian local breed?” One of them said that it belittles the man, that a man of his status should own one of the best breeds available. So I asked again that considering his story about his experience with those breeds they preferred, what can they say? The other echoed that the man must have contacted inexperienced vets to treat his dogs. I only wanted to hear from them. I saw from their views, a resentment for the local breed.
The Nigerian local breed has been called all sorts of names such as “Ekuke”, shit eater, stray dog, local dog, “shinee” to mention but a few. These names are derogatory in nature to make the dog look unimportant and undesirable. “Ekuke” as they are popularly called are the dogs preferred as food for the cultures that eat dog meat popularly called “404” (four-ow-four). They are the cheapest dogs to buy in Nigeria. They are sold as little as one thousand five hundred naira (N1,500) about $10 (ten US dollars).
So what is bad about the Nigerian Local breed?
If you ask many Nigerians that resent this breed of dog the reason why they dislike it, they won’t be able to give you concrete reasons. Many of us have seen very intelligent local breeds. Many of them are trained and used for hunting bush meat by locals in which they perform excellently well. In the rural areas these dogs are usually the best for securing the compound or yard against intruders, although they are good at alerting against strangers. I have seen many of these dogs doing spectacular things but I guess like Jesus said: “A prophet is not recognized in his environment…” I have seen foreigners who prefer our own breed to theirs, pointing out the unique features they possess while we, Nigerians buy books to read about the foreign breeds.
I guess we, Nigerians should start to love our local breed of dogs and also acquire and keep them just like the man in the story above.
Let me tell you a fact that Local Nigerian breeds resist many of the diseases other foreign breeds will die readily from here in Nigeria. So think about it.