Lonely Nairobians adopting dogs
They say dog is man’s best friend. Dogs are loyal, trustworthy, guarantee you lasting companionship and would follow you over a cliff.
It is for this reason that today more than ever; Nairobians are adopting pets into their homes and welcoming them as wonderful additions to their families.
They spend money in buying and maintaining these pets and some even confess to being so attached to their pets that if anything happened to them, they would be devastated.
Take Catherine Macharia for instance, who calls her dog ‘my little son’.
Christened ‘Flappy’ for his sizeable ears, the three year old white and brown terrier spitz is joined at the hip with his master who takes him with her everywhere she goes.
Grooming every two weeks
“I grew up in a family that loved dogs. Flappy was a gift from my nieces,” she says “Since I am alone, not married, I thought why not? A dog would be great company. I wanted to take care of something in my life. In my heart, I was longing for a puppy.”
According to Catherine, Flappy has provided companionship and given her more joy than she could ever imagine.
It is for this reason that she would do what it takes to make sure her worthy company is well taken care of, at any cost.
“Besides the usual wash, I take Flappy for grooming every two weeks for a thorough wash, haircut and clipping of claws. I actually pamper my dog. This costs me about Sh1,000 per session,” she says.
Flappy, also goes for deworming every three months and has a rabies jab once annually. He sees the Veterinary every three months for a routine medical check-up, besides every other time he falls sick.
Catherine is so serious about Flappy’s health that she actually keeps a special file for him that includes all his documents such as veterinary invoices.
“Normally, a single veterinary consultation costs Sh1,500. The medical bills are dependent on what he is ailing from. But the last time we were at the veterinary, I spent Sh5,000. Thank God Flappy is not a sickly dog,” says Catherine.
Flappy’s diet usually includes dog ugali, dog rice and boiled meat, which Catherine prepares in her kitchen and stores in the freezer to be given to the dog in small bits.
He eats once a day at around 6 pm, although Catherine gives him several treats throughout the day such as dog biscuits, water and milk. A 2 kg of bag of dog flour costs Sh300 and a similar bag of rice Sh200.
Flappy’s monthly diet budget is roughly Sh3,000. Besides the dog food, Flappy is fed on vitamins supplements to keep his fur coat soft.
Catherine admits that she is attached to Flappy mostly because of the difference he has made in her life. Besides the company, Flappy is also a recreational partner as the two companions walk around their estate every evening.
“We are tight,” says Catherine, “He filled a gap in my life. He is not my everything, but he is something in my life. He loves to play, and wants to play all the time. Playing together has given me so much joy. I honestly don’t know what I would do if Flappy was taken away from me.”
So deep is this friendship, that Catherine, a TV producer takes her dog with her to work. Her colleagues not only love her dog, but also offer to take him for walks in the afternoon when Flappy needs to stretch.
“He is very well-behaved in the office. Dogs love to sleep so when he is not playing, he is sound asleep under my desk,” she says.
Like a good companion, Flappy is especially protective of his master, and anyone who approaches Catherine with ‘bad energy’ gets a rare dress down in the form of endless barking from Flappy.
“He gets violent if he feels I am threatened. Dogs work with energy and I can tell if somebody has bad energy, depending on how Flappy reacts,” she says.
Many people might find Catherine’s relationship with her pet a little awkward; given the hassle she has to go to make him comfortable.
But she insists that Flappy is not only worth her while, but every effort geared to making him comfortable does not go unappreciated by the pet.
“It is fun to have a dog. People who don’t own dogs would not understand. Maintaining them is not a lot of work, as I have found with Flappy, who is independent and loves his space so that he can sleep,” she says.
Dr Anderson Gitari, a veterinary at Andy’s Vet Clinic says that a good number of middle-class and upper class Kenyans are increasingly adopting pets and even spending a lot of money in maintaining them.
These families not only keep pet dogs, but also horses, cats and other animals and invest a lot of time and money in ensuring their comfort.
“We have seen clients who stop what they are doing to bring their pets to hospital and many times we have attended to pets late at night. Some clients are very particular with their pets, especially those who own rare breed such terrier spitz, poodles, Chinese cats,” says Dr Gitari.
Once a pet walks into Dr Gitari’s office, they are treated to rare pampering in the form of grooming.
“Grooming is basically making a pet look neat,” says Dr. Gitari.