My dog is huge.
Not by American standards, there he’d barely test out of lap-dog level, but in Cameroon? He’s massive.
It’s not so much that he’s especially tall – he passes just above my knee with his head—but the little dude is solid. It’s as if someone hollowed him out and filled him in with solid gold bricks. Which, according to Cameroonian standards, is essentially what happened when I let him grow like a goldfish in a koi pond. Goldfish grow to fit the space they’ve been given. My dog’s territory covers a 4,000 person village and a score of national parks.
He started out like any other African pup but due to my decision to not starve him, he has grown by leaps and bounds. He now is so fat that I strain to lift him. So fat that, when we go for runs his neck fat flaps in the wind, reminiscent of the cattle that roam Nguti. The villagers look at him like he is a ready-for-slaughter Kobe cow, his meaty interior sure to be lined with ribbons of white. Daily I am pleaded with: please, let us eat your dog. Daily I explain that I will literally punch them in the face if they attempt to do that.
This isn’t a ‘starving Africa’ moment, either; people are fat as all get-out here. Villagers here are just jerks. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to speak bad about Africa. What I meant was, uh, it takes a village to raise a child? These are the most genuine people I’ve ever met? Living here makes me grounded? Something like that?
People like to mess with whitey, and they know I love my dog. They can see how much I love him with every meaty morsel that gets packed onto his already hefty body. They call me fat, they call him fat, they ask to take both of us home…they routine is practiced almost daily and gets old quickly. For a while Njamma Njamma suffered from a mild skin infection, making him lose some of his auburn hair. His stock was down and demand was low for a few months, hurting both of our self-esteems. Now that he’s fully regrown his luscious locks, he has officially surpassed my bicycled in the ‘things Africans demand I donate to them’ category.
I would post a picture of my Fatty McLovemuffin, but there’s a problem. Because he’s a solid dude, pictures always fail to capture exactly how large and in charge my little buddy is. I’ve show other volunteers: they remain unimpressed. I make promises of his
bootylicious nature and swear up and down that he weighs substantially more than my six year old neighbor, but they don’t believe me. It makes my feel like I have doggy dismorphic disorder.
Readers, I swear on a stack Leonardo DiCaprio movies that I have the fattest dog in this region. Don’t believe me? Ask my postmate, ask a villager, ask anyone who has ever had to share a bed with the canine: he’s a hoss.
[That picture is my dog next to my six year old neighbor on my bed.]