2 March 2016

Jimmy the Nigerian Dog

I love all my pets but some hold a very special place in my heart.  Jimmy, the dog we rescued from servitude as our guard dog in Lagos is one of those.

When we met our blonde beauty he was so filthy we thought he was black.  He spent his evenings patrolling our garden perimeter with his handler and his daytimes locked in a wire cage.  During a census in the 1990s he was required to stay over during the day as no unnecessary movement was permitted on the streets.  My mother approached him and, finding he was a friendly dog, washed him, only then realising that he was not black.

When movement was permitted again he went back to his employer's cage.  The following evening my parents were furious to see the dog turn up black with filth once more.  They refused to allow him to return and purchased him from the guard dog company.  Closer examination showed that none of his front teeth were whole, they had been kicked to stubs, his ribs had been broken and reset many times and his tear ducts never stopped weeping due to some damage a blow had done to his eyes.

Jimmy in Nigeria
It can be almost impossible to turn an abused working dog into a pet but Jimmy settled in as part of the family from day 1.  He learned to love us and to love his new life and when we left Nigeria he came with us, to the Netherlands, Turkey, the Netherlands again and finally Venezuela.  Jimmy was endlessly loyal.  One time, during a security training exercise when he thought my father was in danger he made a noise fit to wake the dead (he never, ever, barked unless there was trouble) and we found he had almost chewed through a thick leather training lead.  How he managed to do this with the worn stumps of teeth we will never know but we could not get him to settle until he saw my father was safe. He had an unerring nose for cannabis, his 'trainers' had often beaten him when high and he had very negative associations with the smell of the drug.  It made for some interesting encounters with teenage American tourists in the Netherlands.

He was one of the most intelligent dogs I have ever met, he hated injections and would limp theatrically for hours after visits to the vets.  His mental powers never, however, were enough to allow him to remember which side he had received the injection in and his 'bad' leg changed every few minutes.  Often allowed to accompany the family on trips to 'the field' he would sulk for hours if my father left the house in safety gear and did not take him in the car and he developed a love of fruit juice which he would steal from our glasses at any opportunity.

Jimmy gave us so much pleasure over the years but he never really recovered from the abuse he received in his early life.  He started to decline badly in 1999, rallying slightly when my parents adopted a little street dog puppy they found outside their house but fading ever more quickly as the year went on.  My parents made the heartbreaking final decision in early December that year and he was buried in the garden of our home in Maracaibo.

I have been scanning old pictures recently and those of Jimmy were some of the first I copied.  His picture now sits in my 'phone alongside Bessie, Perdie and Kismet.  Our beautiful, loyal, clever Nigerian dog.

Posted as part of Animal Tales!


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  1. Oh my goodness me what a terrible start he had in life but how wonderful you rescued him and he settled as a family pet. He is so handsome and I can't believe how people can be so cruel to such a gorgeous animal. #AnimalTales

    1. The company that originally owned him treated him so badly. We would have taken on all the dogs if we could. Jimmy was truly special.

  2. Replies
    1. We were so lucky to have him in our lives, I still miss him very much.