Chip let me pet him today, and it was one of most profound moments I’ve had since I’ve arrived here in Ghana.
Taken out of context, this statement seems odd and silly, but I’m going to do my best to explain why this small event triggered something deeply important inside of me. So, Chip is a dog. He’s a Ghanaian dog. They’re much different compared to our furry friends at home, or so it would appear. In Ghana, people raise dogs primarily to act as guards for their homes, and in no way do people cherish them the same way as we do back in Canada. I’ve seen dogs hit and yelled at here, they are fed poorly if at all, and no one takes time to love them. It probably explains why so many are cold and distant around humans. The dogs I live with are much the same. When I first met them they wouldn’t come within 3 feet of me, and ran away whenever I tried to get close to them. But everyday when I leave in the morning I still say goodbye to them as I would my own wonderful pups at home, and coming home at night I always get excited to see Chip and Rienna. I think I’m the only one here who shows interest in them in this way, and I think that they’re starting to pick up on it now. Any night I arrive home after dark I find them waiting for me as I approach home on my bike, and when I call out their names their tails go crazy and they come racing up the walkway to meet me. I love it! Recently, I started to notice them nuzzling at my leg, and even felt what might be a tiny lick the other night. But despite this excitement on their part they still shy away from me when I try to approach them with my hand open to them in a gesture of friendship. There’s still that wall separating us from true friendship. Today was different. I went up to the roof to hang out for a few minutes and found Chip lying on the tin ceiling. He got up, came over to me, nudged real close and fully licked my hand. Then he nuzzled into it and I pet him! It was so beautiful. In that moment I felt a true connection building with this once timid hound. It reminded me that when we give out love we receive it back, even from those who otherwise shy away from it, and what’s more beautiful than being love/d?