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A Strange Spectacle


RECENTLY, I went to see a relative of mine who lives in a village on the outskirts of Lagos . All day, she serenaded me with amazing stories about her immediate environment. They were quite amusing and strange. She told me the story of her herd of cattle which confirmed that animals, like man, are affective creatures with feelings. They like to give and receive love and attention . They can sometimes also struggle for relevance in their community.

She told me of a cow that has taken to her so much that it was almost becoming an obsessive kind of love. Usually she goes to see the herd every morning. And immediately she enters their barn, as a matter of routine, the cow expects her to pat her back, stroke her muzzle and generally snuggle up to her. Any time she fails to do this, the cow will not eat or drink for the rest of the day. If my relative ever gets to go to any particular cow first, this particular will fight the other cow all day.

I thought it was all made up until she asked me to experience the spectacle. Alas! It was all true. As soon as this particular cow sighted her, the joy in her eyes was palpable and she started strutting towards her. My relative raised the cow’s head and pushed forward her muzzle for a lovely stroke. She then teased her as if she was going to accept her offer, only to steadily move forward. Almost immediately, there was a stealthy grunt – a potent sign of displeasure which I managed to hear. My hostess excitedly went to another lovely white cow to dispense love. Ah! Did you say rage of the angels? This particular cow paced towards the white cow and wanted to start a fight for daring to accept what was meant for her. It was very scary, the altercation was profound, and it was mean. It was bitterly engaging.

I ran to a safe distance, not wanting to be trapped in the cross fire. It raged on for about 30 minutes before my hostess could calm them down and settled with the dark, attention-seeking cow.

I almost didn’t believe the spectacle. But, was true. And what did that say to me. It only typified that what we call animals are not just ordinary animals. They also have emotions; they have likes and dislikes, friends and foes. They know how to fight for what belongs to them and how to appropriate to themselves what is not theirs. They exist in a communal milieu with defined rules and engagements that must be obeyed by everyone in the commune.

No wonder, there is order everywhere in the jungle. There are the predators and the preys, the strong and the weak, the pack leaders and the followers. Everyone knows the rules. It is such an amazing phenomenon.

This is also the reason why I have always watched with amazement when animals snuggle up to man for comfort. With each passing stroke of the fur, they soak love, either panting with contentment or they keep dead quiet with satisfaction. Have you tried to stroke the under belly of a dog or the tip of its nose before? Oh God! There, you will know the true meaning of love. It is actually a spectacle when you lap up to the excitement of a dog welcoming its owner to the house or the joy on their faces when they see someone they love. It is always awesome.

Next week, I will present a report of the first Siamese birth recorded in dogs in Nigeria by a veterinary team at the University of Ibadan. Watch out.

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