If Rustenburg (Rusty, Rusters, Rustafarian) had lived, today would have marked 1 year since he came into my life. I still miss him. He was a wonderful dog.
The people here in Loopeng seem to agree with me. They actually liked Rusty. He was (relatively) calm, well-behaved and friendly. Shaka Zulu, on the other hand, is nuts. Totally and completely crazy. Insane. The vet seems to think this is good. He's got plenty of energy. It means he's healthy. I keep trying to convince myself of that every morning at 5 a.m. when he decides to start using my feet as chew toys. There may be less pleasant ways to wake up, but I don't know them.
I was afraid that Shaka's ferocity would set me back a couple light-years in my quest to convince people that animals can be pets, companions, not punching bags. Sometimes even I want to punch that little beast. Anyhow, it seems that my fears were unfounded. I got home from school today to find a half-dozen neighbor kids playing with Shaka. They were tossing around his rope toy and, of course, playing tug-of-war as "Drop it" is not yet a phrase the dog recognizes. Anyways, it warmed my heart to see children actually having fun with a dog in a respectful manner (i.e. not causing the dog any physical harm). While I doubt people will soon start putting collars and leashes on their dogs and going for evening walks, at least the concept of "play" has been adopted.
Since the kids had Shaka and his evening exercise under control, I wandered around to the background where my host father keeps his donkeys. I like donkeys. I think they're pretty cute. Most people here treat them like, well, I'm not sure there exists an American equivalent of the village donkey. Let's just say these animals are literal beasts of burden. Rather than harass or mistreat them, as many Loopeng-ers are apt to do, I decided to pet them. They seemed scared at first, but loosened up eventually. Just call me the donkey whisperer.
Petting a donkey is pretty weird, but what I did next was truly bizarre. I wandered into my hovel empty-handed and wandered out with 2 carrots. I wanted to feed the donkeys. This was probably not the most culturally-sensitive thing I've ever done. The carrots were perfectly suitable for human consumption, and those neighbor kids looked hungry enough, but I was intent on my donkey feeding mission.
Do you know what a donkey likes to eat?
Neither do I, but not carrots.
That's right, I could not convince them to eat my carrots! At least not in my presence. I left them on the ground and walked away eventually. The donkeys ate them then. Maybe they're just very polite? In any case, I am definitely the crazy animal lady. Who knows what creature I'll adopt next?