Wow I haven’t written a blog in such a long time. What’s happened since then? Millie, my roommate, got news that she’s been accepted to the El Sistema Fellowship in Boston, we rescued a wonderful dog we named Imara, friends and I are arranging a fundraiser for a friend’s restaurant that was robbed, I’m finishing up my composition Scenes of Arusha, Meru Animal Welfare organization received a $7,000 grant to help donkeys and dogs, my dad booked my flight to Brazil this summer to attend his wedding, and we’re getting ready for our LAST, yes, last, Umoja recital in two weeks. I’m here for 9 more weeks, but I’m feeling already a sense of winding down. There’s a lot I still want to do here, including finding a wonderful home for this incredibly loving dog we found, but I also feel very at peace with my time here coming to an end.
Unfortunately, last week was quite a rough one—Boston bombing news started it off, then Imara ran away for half of the week, and I had some frustration with a misunderstanding at work. In the midst of those irritations and sadness, I let Tanzania get to me in a bad way. I found myself quite annoyed at the slowness of things here, at the corruption, at the language and cultural barriers I sometimes feel. I felt very ready to get out of Tanzania. These annoyances pass, however, and I come back to feeling balanced here as I do this week. I will miss Tanzania, more than I think I know. It’s impossible, however, to not look ahead at the exciting things hopefully coming my way.
Let me talk about our new dog, Imara, for a bit. Two weeks ago, my friend and I were driving through her dirt-road neighborhood when we saw a particularly pathetic looking dog. We see street dogs here all the time, but they usually can dig through enough garbage to get food to eat. This dog, however, was skin and bones, had a terrible eye infection, a burn on her side, and was not standing near any kind of pack of dogs, as we often see here, but just alone, sniffing around the dirt for food. That night, I thought so much about that dog and decided to go back the next day to rescue her. It’s a crazy thing to do, plus Millie was in England visiting family so I didn’t even run it by her!
Jimmy and a MAWO vet accompanied to the road where I had seen her. I thought it might be hard to find her, but there she was in almost the exact same place. Her defeated demeanor was easy to pick out among other street dogs. She hid from us at first, but we lured her out with a bit of meat and the vet then picked her up and put her in Jimmy’s car. It was all done so quickly, and before I knew it she was back at my house. I hadn’t prepared a thing, so we improvised a leash, food, a bed, and then the doctor gave her a few vaccinations. She was very scared and upset, so we let her be alone to calm down for a while.
I spent a lot of time with her for the next few days and she really started to open up to me. On Wednesday, however, I came home to find an empty chain on my porch. She chewed out of her cheaply made leash and run away while I was at work. I was so heartbroken. I cried as I walked around the streets near my house. I was worried that she’d be hit by a car, as she’s blind in one eye, and was still weak from malnourishment. It wasn’t until Sunday, however, that I was able to go back to the same original spot to see if she was there.
I came up the dirt road and even from meters away I could tell it was her. I came closer and she automatically moved away from the human drawing near. I whistled and said her name and she did as much of a double take as I’ve ever seen a dog do. Her tail went to work, wagging excitedly, and she rain up to me, licking my hand and being very excited. I was so shocked at her loving response and memory of who I was. I petted her for a few seconds, before continuing on to my friend’s house. Imara walked along with me, often sheepishly, nervously looking at the people around us who were all look at us. They were telling me this dog was following me, and sometimes someone would say, “shoo!” to the dog. I had to explain to them that she knew me and I was taking care of her. “Don’t say ‘shoo,’ she’s my friend!” I told a few people, smiling at their confounded looks. She followed me for the 10 minute walk without being led with any food or leash.
She has become one of the most loving creatures I’ve ever known. She’s now leaping and bounding with excitement when I run around the yard with her. When I sit with her, she comes up and puts her head on my lap, through my arm, or against my side. I never knew dogs could hug, but that’s exactly what she does.