Dog of the Day

February 2, 2001

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Chamba, the Dog of the Day
Name: Chamba
Age: Eight years old
Gender: Male Breed: Dog
Home: Takoma Park, Maryland, USA
   Chamba was born in Bali-Nyonga, North West Province, Cameroon, West Africa. Chamba is an African mutt. He understands commands in four languages -- not that he obeys them. I adopted him in 1992 when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon, West Africa. When I first saw him, he was still a newborn crawling all over his brothers and sisters trying to get them to play. Of all his siblings, only he had markings like a Border Collie. Notwithstanding a skin problem and about a million fleas, he was very cute. A Cameroonian friend of mine named Moses agreed that we would co-adopt him, and when I left Cameroon, Moses would keep him. Moses gave him the name Chamba, the name of a Village on the Cameroon-Nigeria border where his ancestors came from. People in the village told me that I shouldn't have taken such a scrawny, mangy, miserable dog. Moses and I nursed Chamba to good health. I cooked him his own dog food from "Njanga" (dried fish) and "Gari" (fermented cassava). To rid him of his fleas, a local vet recommended that next time I was working on my motorcycle, I should rub Chamba with clean engine oil. It worked like a charm, and fixed his mange too. A year later, the same people who were disparaging Chamba as a puppy were asking me if I would breed Chamba with their dog. Obviously, I did not leave Chamba behind in Cameroon. I got all the health documentation I needed, paid a tax for exporting livestock, checked him in as my luggage, and brought him back to the USA, via France. Once in the USA, Chamba had to go through his own cultural adjustment. People and dogs behave differently here than they do in Cameroon. (He adjusted more easily than I re-adjusted.) He's a great dog and, at eight, still getting better. He is a very important part of my life.

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