Enugu is a town I grew up as a child till I turned 14. There was persistent water scarcity then and water business was very lucrative for those that were into the business. We lived in a building with 6 flats of 3 bedroom each with nonfunctional water fittings. It was already a normal thing to us to fetch water from outside the building. Behind the building is a micro settlement of locals –people whose ancestor had lived there before them. We nicknamed the place “Azu fence” meaning behind fence literally. Unfortunately we needed to jump the fence whenever we go for water which was a daily affair at that time. We made friends with the guys our age living in that settlement. One of them had a little adorable puppy they called Lassie– a local breed. Lassie was a very popular name for dogs at that time after a famous movie – Lassie. Lassie was an all tan colored dog with some white markings on the face and legs.
I always played with Lassie until he grew older about a year. He was always allowed to roam about scavenging for food. He was rarely fed by his owners. Sometimes neighbors would throw pieces of meat for him to eat and sometimes Lassie would eat poop from toddlers who always defecate at the middle of the place. One day I had all the intention to play with this dog and I heard a shocking news. He has been slaughtered by his owners! I tried not to believe the news. I called my friend to ask him where the dog was and he refused to talk to me. I was considered high class due to the fact that my parents had cars and we live in a nice flat in contrast to them that live in slums so they try not to lose us as friends so he declined answering my question.
I missed that dog and kept coming to their house hoping to find the dog. The neighbors of the boy will always laugh at me for looking for a dead dog whose meat has been consumed. One of his neighbors knew that the boy’s father use to reserve the head in their fridge for personal enjoyment. He went into their house and brought the head for me to see. God!!! I couldn’t stand the sight of the roasted head of Lassie!
As a child I would see Lassie in my dreams and play with him only to wake up and start crying remembering that he was killed and eaten. I hated the boy and his entire family and I considered anything about them to be wicked and bad. I also considered them MURDERERS!
When I eventually moved to Abuja I met a lot of people that eat dogs and they will tell you that they prefer the local dogs and not the foreign breeds and that they will prefer a younger dog to older ones because their meat is usually softer and sweeter. I once travelled to Calabar town South-South Nigeria where they have designated restaurants for dog meat popularly called 404 (four-ow-four).
I have also been to local markets where these local dogs are sold like goats to people that eat them. Sometimes they help buyers to kill and process them there and then.
Now I try to question my earlier believe that people that kill dogs to eat them are murderers. I have seen people debating on facebook about this issue. In fact I have seen foreigners (Uk & USA) people who form groups to advocate for the rights of these animals to live without being maltreated or even slaughtered for meat. I have seen people spreading photos of roasted dogs in China and Africa condemning the act and prescribing punishment for the perpetuators.
To these people that eat dogs, dogs are just like goats or cows that are slaughtered for meat and nothing different and you can see in their eyes that they don’t feel like they committed any crime. One of them argued once with me and asked me to explain it when someone who sees goats or pigs as pets and experiences the way they are slaughtered. “Won’t he feel bad as you would feel when you see dogs being slaughtered?” – He asked.
I think it is a case of “one man’s food is another man’s poison” or “One man’s food is another man’s friend”.