Anambra dog tragedy: Understanding personalities of foremost domesticated animal
The dog has been a human companion for more than 18,000 years, making it one of the first domesticated animals in history. However, keeping dogs as a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities. In fact, in the southeastern part of the country, there is an adage that warns thus: “The dog that laughs also bites”. Thus, as friendly as dogs are, they can also be very aggressive.
In a response to a question on why people keep pets, particularly dogs, on www.quora.com, one MJ Lejer wrote: “Because dogs can be a wonderful addition to someone’s family and/or themselves. Dogs are affectionate, loyal, loving, can offer an alarm system, and are the warm and cuddly nest to you if you have been kind and loving to them! But dogs are a responsibility; they require care, food, water, shelter… and some training if they are to be good pet citizens. And that responsibility can be from eight to 20+ years, depending on the breed! But their companionship and unconditional love can be a tremendous reward for taking care of them right!”
Lejer’s submission is quite apt, especially when considered against the backdrop of the incident that happened at Global Growth Academy, Amokpo, Umuanunwa, Nteje, Anambra State, last Saturday, where 11 dogs belonging to the owner of the school feasted on a two-year-old pupil.
It was reported that the school’s proprietor, Chief Chinedu Oka, is a returnee from the United Kingdom and that the victim was taken to the school for enrolment by his parent when the incident happened.
A source had said: “A parent took the child to the school for enrolment when the incident happened. The owner of the school rears dogs on the premises, despite the community’s warning against it. While the parent of the child was perfecting the documentation and registration of the child, the child wandered off.
“On sighting the baby, one of the dogs rushed at him and dragged him into their pen where about 10 of them devoured the two-year-old boy without any school official on hand to rescue him.”
The development reportedly angered members of the community’s vigilante group who entered the school’s premises and killed all the dogs.
A similar incident had happened in September 2014 at 35 Adegboyega Street, Akesan, Igando, Lagos. In the incident, then four-year-old Omoniho Isaac Abraham narrowly escaped death as two dogs belonging to the caretaker of the house, Stanley Jegede, pulled out his skull. Two elder brothers to the victim also got injured while trying to evade the dogs’ attack.
Narrating the incident then, the father of the victim, Abraham Odia, said his wife went to buy something for the children, shortly after she left, the children came downstairs with their bicycles to play as he lives upstairs.
But unknown to them, the giant dogs belonging to the landlord’s brother, Jegede, were not chained.
“Immediately the kids came down, two of the dogs chased them. The third dog was chained. The children ran back upstairs, but the dogs chased them up. Three of them ran up, but the dogs still attacked them forcing the other two who were 12 and seven years old to jump down and leaving their younger one who could not jump. They sustained fractures on their legs. The dogs pounced on the boy who could not jump, tore his skull and battered his face,” he said.
What could have gone wrong with the dogs that made them turn violent? Or was it the fault of the victims? What should a household consider before choosing a dog as a pet and what kind of dog should they get?
A veterinary doctor in Igando area of Lagos, Dr. Odegbami Olanrewaju of Glory Pets, told The Guardian that there were basic things to take into account when planning to get a dog as a pet. He listed the family’s lifestyle, budget and temperament. According to the expert, finding a dog that could be the perfect friend to a child and the family requires a little bit of research.
“A dog needs to fit in well with the family for everyone to have a good relationship with it. Like people, dogs have different personalities that make their character. Some dogs are fearful while some are confident.
“Nervous or anxious dogs make excellent watchdogs as they are more likely to alert you to an unknown person’s presence, whereas a confident dog will be friendlier,” Olanrewaju said.
He averred that dogs could be reared in school premises where toddlers are managed, “but with good supervision of a dog handler.”
He added: “It should be allowed out only at night and this applies to only boarding schools with good facilities. Some breeds of dog-like Pitbulls, Doberman, Mastiff and, in some cases, GSD should never be kept where children are. There are some dogs with a human temperament like lhazer APSO, Great Dane, Eskimos and few others. But in general, dogs should not in any way be trusted with children because they may not know how to understand when dogs are angry by tucking their tail down or swinging their tail when they accept to play with you.”
Olanrewaju explained further that high-energy dogs were more active and required owners who have a more active lifestyle because they would require a lot of exercises. He added that “some dogs have naturally low energy and are happy to take naps or indulge in low energy activities.”
“Another factor to consider when getting a dog is the size. Some people are not very concerned about the size of a dog as long as it is suitable for their lifestyles. Some big dogs are perfectly suited to life indoors just as the smaller dogs are,” he stated.
According to him, Beagle, Newfoundland, Bull Terrier, Bichon Frise, Mutt and Vizsla are some of the best dog breeds for young children.
“Beagles are sweet, gentle and loving towards children. They are a joy to be around and are small to medium-sized dogs. If you have watched Peter Pan, then you will know of the famous Newfoundland character, as the darling family’s pet dog Nana was one. This breed is one of the gentle giants, as it is a dog well known for its sweet personality. They are also excellent swimmers.
“Unlike most small dog breeds, the Newfoundland breed dogs are not easily injured by rough play as they are very sturdy. They may look intimidating but are known to have friendly and fun-loving personalities.
“Bichon Frise dog is mostly hypoallergenic and is also happy-go-lucky, energetic and vivacious. These breeds of dogs may need to be groomed regularly, but their fur will not give much trouble if you have a child or children with allergies,” he explained.
Olarenwaju added: “The Collies breed dogs are energetic, loving and highly intelligent, and make great companions for children. Mutt, also called mixed breeds, is just as loving and intelligent as purebred dogs. They have the additional benefit of teaching children about kindness, as most of them are adopted from the shelter.
“Vizsla is a medium-sized dog breed, particularly for hunting. They are highly intelligent. They require a certain amount of exercise each day, and with kids, their energy is likely to come out through play. This breed of dog is often a loyal companion to children.
“The Golden Retriever is a sweet, playful dog that has become a favourite among families. It has been found to be a great companion for children and adults alike.”
According to the vet doctor, Pit Bulls dogs have a bad reputation for being aggressive and attack dogs. He, however, noted that they still make great family pets because of their playful, intelligent and loving nature.
“Pugs are one of the best small dog breeds for kids. They provide the family with endless amounts of fun and joy. They are the perfect size for a good cuddle, even for little children,” he said.
Commenting on other breeds of dogs, Olanrewaju explained: “German Shepherd is one breed of dog that is on every list as they are very intelligent. They are lovely family pets and can be trained to do just anything.
“Mastiffs is another breed of gentle giants and is one of the oldest breeds in the world. They have a very affectionate nature and become attached to and love their family to bits. They make wonderful companions for children.”
On why people keep big dogs as pets, he said: “I feel the only reason some people, especially Nigerians, keep big dogs is to intimidate people. They feel huge dogs can get people scared and they feel more protected.”