As I have said before, dog walking is not the norm in Uganda. It’s not like the UK where come early evening the dogs and dog owners are out in mass in the parks or streets. Walking a dog here attracts attention, whether you like it or not. Good and bad. As a muzungu you get attention out and about regardless…even more so if you have a wild looking dog on the end of a piece of rope trotting along next to you.
This is a typical walk…. Today I had to pick up some food for dinner so I decided to combine it with a dog walk to kill two birds with one stone. It’s not far from our place to the supermarket but we live on top of a very very high hill so it takes a little while. Half way down I get my first shout out…. ‘MUZUNGU!?’ I was the only white person on the street at that time so I presumed the random stranger on the back of a boda going up the hill was calling to me. Ugandan’s are pretty big on ‘hellos’, ‘how are yous’ and ‘fines’ so I do tend to respond to the Muzungu shout outs, out of courtesy. ‘Yes yes, fine, fine?’ I reply back and the boda guy gives me a wave and passes by. Next a police truck passes me. This is also quite typical as there’s some diplomat or mp living close to us and I presume there was a guard shift change around this time. The police trucks are open backed and usually have 10-15 guards with guns sitting in the back. ‘Hey Muzungu, give me your dog!?’ I hear. Randomly I hear this quite a lot. From a nation of dog fearing people it is quite strange. I don’t think they actually want my dog but many people say this. Other common variations are ‘I want this dog’ or ‘this is my dog!’ – No she is definitely my dog…all the way from England don’t you know.
The reactions of local people are also quite amusing. As I said, a nation of dog fearing people leads to some pretty predictable responses when you are out and about with such a wild beast. Children usually scramble behind each other, pushing their friends in front of them to get away from the dog. Some dive into the storm drains, some scream, or jump, others run away. Most just give me a wide berth. They are happier walking out into the passing traffic chaos that get to close to the muzungu and the hound. Adults react in the same way most of the time. Today a local woman saw me coming. She didn’t run, she didn’t jump She didn’t scream… she just stood very still. I think she hoped that we wouldn’t see her!
Today I had a new experience; I overtook three children who clocked me and the mutt as I passed. I could hear them giggling and running behind me to catch me up. So I stopped. I asked them if they wanted to meet the dog and I introduced them. One of the girls was clearly feeling quite bold and grabbed the lead from my hand and walked her. Her friends were excitedly giggling from a distance. Another time we were walking and got stopped for a photo by a local guy. He wasn’t interested in the muzungus he just wanted a photo of him with the dog next to him. Madge- the celebrity dog of Muyenga!