I was younger when I use to observe some stray dogs scramble for food at the meat sellers place. The market was very close to the slaughter place so these stray dogs which are mostly local breeds will crowd the butchers waiting for some meat or bone to drop their way. As a game, these butches would throw a piece of meat just to watch the dogs fight over it. They would laugh as the fight continues and would throw another when the fight ends. These butchers will stand their talking about the strongest among the stray dogs. Somehow it was entertaining to the butchers and some few spectators.
An incident occurred one day that one of these stray dogs got very bold and went straight to a pile of meat kept by the butchers for sale, grabbed one of the meat and took off. These young and strong butchers chased the dog, ambushed the dog and beat the dog very well with some sticks. Unfortunately the meat was already soiled which infuriated the young butchers and made them beat the dog and broke the right hind limb.
Each day I saw that dog I quickly remember the incident. I tell the story because the slaughter place was just behind our home and I could see through the window everything. The butchers spoke Hausa language which I didn’t understand but I was able to see why they reacted that way.
Another story of a stray dog was when I was already practicing as a vet in a different clinic. One lady came in with a dog when we were already closing for the day - a local breed of dog. Obviously we could tell that the dog didn’t belong to the woman because the dog was looking very malnourished. As we were trying to get the history of the dog the woman quickly told us that the dog was just a stray dog that usually welcomes her whenever she visits her sister. She loved the way the dog welcomes her even when the sister’s people are chasing the dog away because it doesn’t belong to them.
She hadn’t visited for a long time before this time but the dog was just staring at her and she quickly asked why, she was told that the dog has been very dull and probably sick. She started to cry and told her driver to put the dog in the car immediately so that they can find a vet. The driver was reluctant expecting the sister to convince her to stop, she ignored the driver and went straight to carry the dog into the car and started looking for a vet. It took her about 2 hours to drive from the village to Abuja town just for this and that was why she was late – was pleading. She paid all the bills and called later to thank us for helping.
There are more stories like this… I grew up to believe that people don’t really like or care about dogs that do not belong to them. Most of the stray dogs I have seen in Nigeria are actually owned by Nigerians who don’t really care much about their dogs. Somehow I think they see them as goats and sheep that can graze around and return home.
I just wanted to show you two extremes on the way I have seen Nigerians react to stray dogs. I wish you will be like the woman who saw the dog as a dog that was helpless and needed help. If you are like the butchers, don’t turn it into a game just to watch a fight but to feed a hungry dog. Thank you.