Most rural Ethiopian villages have a very odd relationship with their collection of stray dogs. Villages such as Kololo depend on dogs to alert the community when a hyena or leopard is cruising for dinner, yet this harrowing act goes unappreciated. With the exception of the occasional slaughtered animals’ lower leg, skull, or entrails, the community does not feed dogs with anything but scraps of table scraps. As a result, dogs have become opportunists. If a family leaves their door unwatched, dogs will scamper in their hut at attempt to sniff out something edible. Every now and again, they find a banana or avocado; that’s when most outsiders would start to get uncomfortable. Ill just say the community dogs are weary of being near any of the villagers.
Ijigu is one of the few animal lovers I have met in Ethiopia. He especially is fond of dogs. He pets, plays, and even speaks to them. Yes, this sort of behavior is commonplace in the US, but not at all in Ethiopia. Picture the same routine with a raccoon. You get the picture.
Daniel, Ijigu and I also don’t always finish our meals. Commonly we share our uneaten injera, wat, or gommen with 2 or 3 of the community’s four-legged pariah. However, we do draw the line at the door, because of their fleas, and not wanting to set a poor precedent, we will not allow dogs inside our home. The dogs are now somewhat trained, they contently wait for us/food in our veranda. The added presence is appreciated for our late night trips to the bathroom.
So now, though mostly Ijigu, have a loyal flea infested following. Our three closest friends, even bully neighboring strays away from our house. The comfort of not being feverishly chased with rocks provides great incentive. One in particular, often happily follows Ijigu to work. It’s quite endearing, although the rest of the community just thinks of us as nuts.
Between the tattoos, work out routines, and the no salt or butter in our coffee (I am not kidding), it’s certainly not the only reason why they think were a little off.
|A local friend paying Ijigu a visit. Check out Marcos's|
face (to the left) and Petros's pose in the background.
|A photo taken from my hammock. The community keeps the dogs skittish,|
but the fleas have got to be worse.