Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dog owners in Niger

There are dog owners in Niger, but this is almost always for watchdog purposes and not for companionship. It is common for people to have a few dogs for hunting, too, if they live in rural areas. "Dog ownership" here means that you feed a dog; it doesn't mean that you touch it. Puppies, as an exception, get toted around by kids, and there are exceptions to the "no touch" rule, but definitely the understanding is that dogs are not for hanging out with. They aren't leashed, and tend to spend their time wandering around town, napping in the shade, or begging in the vicinity of a butcher. For the most part, people just leave them alone, and they learn early on to do the same towards people. On the occasion that a dog gets too close to a person or to a person's food, you can expect something to be thrown at said dog (flipflop, rock, sand). Otherwise, dogs are pretty much ignored. There are stray dogs too, especially in the city, but in the villages usually any dog you see belongs to one family or another.

I haven't gotten to see any hunting dogs in action, but I hope I get to. A guy in a nearby village has three or four dogs he uses to hunt rabbits; he said I can accompany him someday, as long as I can run fast to keep up. Not sure what that I have to catch the dog? An injured rabbit? I will let you know.

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