Snowy and Lily wrecking Tiekie’s gardenA rare moment of Snowy relaxing on the lawn.
More news from Heloise:
On a very cold winter’s night in July 2009 a four week old puppy with a string around her neck walked up the long drive way to the house where Tiekie lives. The security guard saw the puppy and, thinking it was Tiekie’s, took care of it during the night and made sure it was tied up when he left the following morning. Tiekie found the puppy tied up and was most upset with the security guard for leaving his puppy behind when he went home. Tiekie took care of the puppy during the day. That evening the two men spoke to each other and discovered that this little puppy had strayed from somewhere and decided to move in here. She could not have chosen a better home. She was named Snowy because of her white body with some light coffee colour markings. Around her eyes she had black patches, and a very long tail that could not wag but was always curled into a circle, looking like a handle on a tea pot.
Tiekie’s other dog, Lily, is a natural mother and she raised Snowy and taught her to be the pleasure Snowy was to have around. When Tiekie started farming at Luyengo Snowy was there every day, enjoying the space to run around and was always seen just two steps behind Tiekie. When Tiekie was on the tractor Snowy was there trotting alongside the tractor, up and down every row, never stopping for a break until Tiekie did so. Other times Snowy would be lying behind Tiekie’s desk in the office taking up most of the floor space there with her long legs.
Both Tiekie’s dog are examples of a land race called Africanis. Archaeologists have told us the earliest remains of dogs were found in Egypt near the Nile and dates back to about 7 000 years. It is believed that the herdsmen brought the dogs onto the African continent via what is now known as Sudan. Gradually they found their way all the way down south. Dr Ina Plug, an archaeozoologist, discovered, identified and dated the earliest remains of domestic dogs in South Africa. These remains were found on a farm called Diamant near Ellisras and she dated it to AD570 or Early Iron Age. Remains of dogs dating about back to the same age were also found in KwaZulu Natal in the Lower Thukela River area as well as in the Eastern Cape around the Cape St Francis area. Historians believe all these dogs belonged to livestock farmers and they probably had contact with each other and bartered.
The dog that evolved is the Africanis, a race that is resistant to regional sickness and tolerant to prevailing internal and external parasites. Johan Gallant, the chairperson of the Africanis Society of Southern Africa who has been doing research on this land race for years says, “The Africanis as an aboriginal land race has been preserved and can still be found deep in our traditional tribal lands. Don’t go looking for them in the modern day townships and squatter camps. They have survived with the African culture in the former “homelands”. However their natural state is increasingly coming under threat because of their changing environment and the Eurocentric approach which still considers them rejects and bequeaths this unfounded opinion to the public at large.” He also says we are dealing here with a ‘natural’ breed because it was nature and the stringent conditions of the African environments over the centuries that were responsible for this breed. (It is important to note that when the European settlers came to Southern Africa, many bringing their exotic dogs along, there were cultural barriers and so there was minimal contact between these exotic dogs and the Africanis).
Gallant describes Africanis as genuine dogs, with behavioural patterns that are unspoilt and intense. They are attached to people; unobtrusive; non-demanding; extremely intelligent and hardy; eager to learn and work; loyal and courages; good at tracking and searching. The Africanis is medium sized, slender built and well-muscled. It is agile and supple, moves in a very natural and easy manner, and can run at great speed. They need open spaces to run as they have tremendous stamina; good with kids and very social. In profile when sitting they look very much like the dogs in Egyptian hieroglyphics. They will live in peace with other animals in their environment and Tiekie can testify that neither of his dogs ever chases the chickens, guinea fowl, cats or birds in his garden. (Admittedly Snowy did have an on-going barking contest with one of the neighbouring dogs at Luyengo.)
Snowy was a great example of her breed as all of the above describe her. But this story has a sad ending as Snowy died this week. Tiekie had been away from his home and the housekeeper, not noticing Snowy was still in the house, locked her inside. Tiekie thinks she must have been desperate to get out of the house and tried to force herself through an open window but in her effort she broke her neck when she got stuck in the burglar bars. Tiekie has planted a shrub or small tree commonly known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Brunfelsia exemia) in front of the office at Luyengo in memory of Snowy.
*The Africanis and the Rhodesian Ridgeback are the only two indigenous African domesticated dogs; there are African Wild Dogs and jackals which live in the wild."
Snowy at Luyengo watching Vusi on the tractor.