Friday, March 9, 2012

Animal Tales

OK, this is kinda weird. I run with a group known as the HASH Harriers on Saturday evenings. The HASH runs were supposedly started by some British ex-pats in Singapore or Thailand? as a way of getting together, having a little exercise and A LOT of alchohol. I've heard the HASH referred to as a drinking party at which some running occurs.

Although I've been in Juba nearly two years now I'd avoided participating in the HASH. I don't really like to drink that much, and I was afraid it was just going to be too silly English-school boyish. Plus, I don't really associate with that many ex-pats, not the general NGO types anyway. But I've been to the HASH two weeks in a row now and have had a great time. Plus, the friends I have made here have turned out to be useful in my work, so it has been a really good thing and I regret now not participating earlier.

Anyway, about the runs: The runs are several kilometers in length going through different parts of Juba. The trails are marked on the ground with dots and arrows through the use of white flour. The only problem is there are so many goats around Juba and they LOVE white flour! So the trail markers will always say something about how they were out marking the trail followed by a herd of happy goats lapping up the flour! In truth, we've never not been able to find a trail because the goats have eaten too much flour, but you can see where they have nibbled-up a lot of the markings. Weird, but just too funny!

Juba is a city of a million people, about 300,000 goats and maybe a couple of thousand cats and dogs. People don't really keep pets here. Dogs and cats are viewed as little more than carriers of fleas and people normally just shoo them away. Small packs of scraggedly mangy mutts live around town living on garbage and handouts. The cats are more stealthy but possibly more mangy - if that is possible - and seem to live off whatever they can catch. Since rats are a problem here I think people tolerate cats a little more, plus cats are pretty quiet and unobtrusive as opposed to dogs. When the dogs get to fighting, or one of the females is in heat the howling and noise from the dogs all night can be horrible. There are a couple of little packs that live in our neighborhood and I am often woken during the night by the various howlings of the dogs.

The dogs here are mostly small mangy things, tan colored - they all look like they came from the same few original dogs. I've actually seen some basically hairless dogs, dogs where I suppose because of mange and whatever other diseases exist have lost their hair. How they survive in this intense sunshine is beyond me. Flies are forever around the dogs and all dogs have bloody places where the flies have made a mess of their flesh. Virtualy all dogs here, the place where their ears fold over, this is a bloody mess where the flies feed and maybe lay eggs. It's pretty gross. For a while it seemed like hardly a week went by where on my walk to work I wouldn't see one dog that had been run over. Because of the heat and action of the maggots and whatnot the bodies didn't last very long. Within a few days there would be hardly anything left. Equally gross.

I've only ever seen a few people here - ex-pats mostly - who keeps dogs or cats as pets. Veterinary services are scarce and I'm sure things like regular shots are non-existant so maintaining a healthy pet would be difficult. I've heard that vets from other countries occasionally make visits to Juba. There is an organization called "Veterinarians Without Borders," kinda like the human Doctors without Borders, but I believe they deal primarily with livestock and not domestic animals. Anyway, I've never seen a dog or a cat here that I would say is older than maybe 3-years old. I don't think the life expectancies are that great. But then again, the same is true for people here as well.


  1. Larry I love your goat story:) Thanks for sharing the details of your life. We all learn so much from you, and reading the blog makes us feel you are not quite so far away. Take care. Looking forward to your next visit!

  2. "not the general NGO types anyway" - ok, I'll ignore that remark. Just say what I've said before, it took a Sweet Briar Girl!

    And, of course, you owe me for the rest of your life - But Who's Commenting?