Monthly Archive for May, 2008

Grania: The Little Hobo(ess)

So as I was watching the sunset over Lake Victoria on the last day of my conference the phone beeped with a text.

“Have got my present from Aziz… it’s a puppy. When are you coming home? D”

Definitely not a message I had ever expected to receive from Dan! As soon as the dancing ended I rushed home to see this puppy. What were we going to do with it?!?


I came back to a cardboard box on its side and a breathing mass of fur inside. She was really dopey and sleepy and in fact for a moment I though she wasn’t going to survive the night. We settled her down on the balcony and decided to delay making any decisions about the “puppy problem” until the morning.

That night we had a glimpse into the world of having children. In the middle of the night, our little responsibility woke up from her coma, realised that she was not near her mum… in a dark house with strange mzungus… so she did what any baby would do. She cried. The whimpering grew louder and louder until it could not be ignored. So, despite Dan’s pleas to “leave her outside and she’ll stop eventually”, I got up and tried to settle her. During the night I was up a number of times, and in the end she only settled when she was allowed inside. She finally settled down curled up on our bedroom floor at the foot of the bed (on Dan’s side, she obviously knew who the “master” was). It was the cutest sight.

The next morning, absolutely shattered, we discovered that our little puppy hadn’t arrived alone. There was a range of other animals living on her, ranging from ticks to fleas and god knows what else. I was very thankful that I could leave the puppy problem and go to work.

On the way home from work I stopped at the pet shop and picked up the full range of de-flea and de-worm medication. Dan had had an interesting day at work with his new colleague, having to get up every hour or so and take her for a trip to the garden. On the whole, though, she had behaved well.

Her initial excitement of having a human in the house to play with was abruptly ended when she was taken into the bathroom for what was obviously the first bath of her life! She was filthy – the colour of water that came off her was disgusting and full of drowning insects. After a few washes her fur had become several shades lighter and she was no longer insect-infested. Despite this, she was not a fan of me!

After her washing, her true appearance was revealed – light brown with four little white paws. And this helped us to decide on a name – Socksi. “Socksi” means socks in japadola, one of the local languages.

We still hadn’t really addressed the “Puppy Problem”. Now I have wanted a dog for a long time (ever since I had to leave Bandit at home), but I’m well aware of the responsibility that owning a dog brings. You need:

  • A suitable house – we live on a first floor flat
  • To prepare for it, know its parents and ensure that it has been vaccinated & properly weaned – not to discover it in a cardboard box
  • To be prepared to be around – we like to explore the countryside and are out of town quite a lot
  • To make a commitment – we are leaving in four months

So the reasons why we should not have a dog were fairly obvious BUT Socksi had such a cute little face, a very sweet temperament, was seemingly easy to train and had an ability to make you smile – she had taken to running madly round the house first thing in the morning, full of excitement for the day ahead!

We decided to wait for a couple of days and see. Although we live on the first floor we are in a compound with a large garden, but unfortunately the neighbours downstairs bought a puppy at Christmas who has now grown into a jumping, nipping, barking monster. Annoyingly, this meant that we could not leave Socksi alone in the garden.


After two days it was obvious that the doggy dream was not going to work. A balcony is not a place to keep a small dog for long periods of time and Dan’s plants were suffering from her boredom. The inevitable decision was made easier when a Ugandan friend heard of our gift and our predicament.

Okumu, a cousin of Phil’s, lives in a village called Nagongera in the far east of Uganda. He was about to buy a new dog as his previous one had died of old age. When he heard about our problem Okumu offered to take Socksi, and after much thought we agreed.

We have been up to Nagongera before, and it is ideal for a dog. Okumu’s land is large with lots of fields for Socksi to run around in, hardly any cars and best of all Okumu lives there permanently. So Socksi was packed up back into her Waragi box (minus fleas and ticks, plus new collar and some tins of dog food) and has made her way to the village. She is apparently doing very well and we will be going up to see her again before we leave.

As Dan said we really appreciate the gift from Aziz. It was very generous, but I just wish that it had been a bottle of Waragi instead as it would have not caused as much heartache, only a headache!