Monday, March 21, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

I'm not actually sure what the title phrase means, just like I'm not totally clear on the exact meaning of "Indian summer" either. No matter, this post is about a real dog, Shaka, and what we've been up to lately.

I usually take him for an evening walk, and we wander all over to new and exciting parts of the village. Loopeng is so large that there are little pockets I still haven't visited. Anyway, out on one of these walks we met another dog. Well, he was more of a puppy. He looked very similar to Shaka, black with a white chest, except much smaller. Shaka and the new dog stared to play, but the new dog's owner wanted to be on her way. She called to her dog, "Rusty! Rustenburg!" Her dog perked his ears and went trotting towards her. I was more than a little surprised to hear the name of my former dog. What it mere coincedence? Nope, this lady liked Rusty so much she named her dog after mine. It was oddly touching.

In more recent dog news, Shaka got his first bath today. It consisted of me holding onto him tightly as he tried desperately to wriggle away from four kids splashing water at him. He did much better when we got to the lathering. He stood patiently while we scrubbed him up and down. The rinsing was a near-disaster. He saw me coming with the water bucket and ran like the wind. We managed to get him clean enough that no soap was visible, and any remaining he quickly scrubbed off with a roll in the sand. So much for a clean dog.

All the washing and rolling left him a bit tired, and he trotted off for a nap in the shade, but we still didn't leave the poor puppy alone. No, we brought out the brush. He actually seemed to enjoy it, even though all four kids insisted on their turn with the brush. It's amazing to me how just a few months ago all the children were terrified of the "beast" and now they enjoy nothing more than sitting next to him on the stoop and giving him a pat. It's a good thing Shaka is so patient.

Also today, I heard a mysterious noise coming from the roof of the house. I looked up and saw two kids on the roof, and one on a ladder on his way up! Needless to say, I was next in line. I got all the way up the ladder, but chickened out when it came to putting my weight on the tin roof. I admired the view for a minute, and clambered back down. "Resego!" called one of the kids. I looked up just in time to see one of Shaka's toys flying towards me. I thought it had been lost or stolen ages ago. It turns out that it had just been on the roof all that time. Shaka is extremely pleased to have it returned, as am I.

I so wish I could take Shaka to Longtom with me, but alas, dogs and taxis are not a good mix.


  1. "Dog days of summer." The days when it so hot that sensible people dig a hole in the earth, under a bush, and stay there until the weather changes. ("Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun!")

    OR, if you prefer Wikipedia's etymology: "...the hottest times of the year, typically in late July or August. ... commonly known as the dog days, in reference to the position of Sirius, the 'Dog Star' and brightest star in the sky other than the sun."

    "Indian Summer" known in Russia as Baba's Summer (Бабье Лето / Old Ladies' Summer): Wikipedia cites several theories about the origin of the name, and says that the same weather that we call 'Indian Summer' is called St. Martin's Summer in much of Europe, and some variant of Бабье Лето in Eastern Europe and Russia.

    In all variants, the common themes are surprise ("Hey, we've already had a hard frost!") and impermanence. I think we feel that impermanence especially poignantly, and the surprise is simply delightful. I love Indian Summer.

  2. We have a dog that my supervisor found and while some of the kids still are afraid of it, I am getting the older kids to treat her with respect and that has been a big change. I'm hoping the way they treat her will change the way they treat themselves and others.

  3. Very enlightening and beneficial to someone whose been out of the circuit for a long time.