Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cow? Or sheer terror?

What was that noise? Was.That.A.Cow?

A day or two after we moved into our house in Karen, I was working at the kitchen sink when I heard a strangled, other-worldly noise – a bellow something like a cow’s moo – just outside the door.

I yanked the door open. A Kenyan man was sprinting across the back yard. In wobbly pursuit were our two German Shepherd pups, merely black and brown puffballs, tails wagging.

They weren't little round fur balls any more in this picture.
You see, Kenyans are terrified of dogs, especially black dogs, because usually they’re not pets—they’re watch dogs, able and willing to attack. Evidently in the Kenyans’ minds, a black dog is a black dog, no matter the age or size.

Our pups caught the meter reader by surprise and, in sheer terror, he let loose that spine-chilling bawl from deep in his chest.

Poor guy! I ran after him to assure him the pups were harmless, but he was out the gate and far away before I could reach him.

We had bought the pups as watch dogs, but we had no intention of training them to attack. Last week I explained that previously we had lived in apartments surrounded by fences and protected by guards day and night, but when we moved into a house, we had legitimate concerns about—and responsibility for—our safety.

They longed to come inside. Aren't they adorable?
The house had a tall fence around it and a locked gate across the driveway, but we knew, everybody knew, we needed more than that fence so we hired an askari (guard), Martin, we hired a security company, and bought our German Shepherd pups.

No doubt Martin was afraid of them, too, at first, but in a few days, I heard him laughing over their antics.

Martin and the pups, B.J. and Hawkeye, soon became fast friends. He knew that even as roly-poly wiggly little black and brown fellows, they served their function, and that when the dogs got bigger, they could very well help keep Martin, Dave, and me alive if thugs or gangsters broke in.


  1. When I was young we always had a German Shepard. I loved them but if you leave them chained up and not loved they can become quite vicious. My dad "adopted" one like that and it never warmed up to me or me to it. I think he might have been playing with me when I'd chase my siblings but it hurt anyway. Funny thing is someone stole him our of our yard so I guess they knew how to deal with a hostile dog. I can see why some Kenyans would be very afraid. Your pups look so sweet and harmless though.

  2. Hi, Penny, how sad that someone stole your German Shepherd! Also, I applaud your father for "adopting" one in need of a home. I heard just a few days ago that someplace in the U.S. has passed a law that pet owners cannot leave their dogs chained up more than 3 hours a day, that is one hour each 8 hours. There's a lot to what you said about dogs left chained all the time can become vicious. Poor things. Thanks for stopping by, Penny. :)