The latest addition to our small pack of dogs was a puppy named Bono, lovingly referred to as Boo. He arrived in our compound sometime in May or June and while he initially belonged to the night-guard, John enthusiastically insisted that we keep him. From that day on he was our (but mostly Roz’s) puppy.
While Simba is the alpha of the compound, I’m sure he’s also part wild banshee and not all canine. He’s wiley and protective but not very loving. Nara, our adopted girl we share with the neighbor, is more like a friendly human stuck in a hairy dog body. She is emotional, smart and curious. But Boo, well Boo was the only real dog-dog around.
As a real-dog he it was his responsibility to eat every gross thing on the beach and roll in smelly goat carcasses that he’d pull out of the neighbor’s trash.
Maybe it was because he was a loved puppy or maybe it was just in his mixed mutt breed, but he was a loyal and sweet creature.
We had a few close scares with mysterious illnesses (probably caused from some particularly nasty beach meals), but we knew something was really amiss when he stopped being his friendly self and refused to eat. The great drama was that we weren’t sure what the problem was. The district vet came and gave him medicine but he was convinced that Boo had rabies. He told us that typically rabies symptoms include aggressive behavior and roaming at the mouth, but alternatively it can make a dog sensitive to light, physically uncomfortable and reclusive. Those symptoms fit the bill.
The worst part was that the vet would not allow us to put him down immediately. He gave him a vaccine and said that if it was really rabies, then Boo’s behavior would show more typical signs and only then we could put him down. It was important to do this because he needed to confirm the case and report it to the government. (Sounds like a really awful idea in hindsight to induce aggressive behavior and keep him around but we weren’t really given another option.) So Boo was tied him up away from the other dogs while we waited to see if he got better or worse. We were all hoping that he’d perk up and prove that he just had a bad bout of food poisoning but sadly he only got worse, and with after 3 days of suffering he died.
His passing came just a week after Sonia’s death and again it was a stark reminder of some of the harsh realities of life in Mozambique. We’ve inquired with the state vet about the tests to see if it was rabies but have yet to hear back. We’ve been told by others that it’s very unlikely we’ll ever hear, since the government does not want to post statistics on how bad the rabies problem is in the country. Even though his life was short, I’m glad that we got to give him a good life while he was here.