Dogs are not our whole life but they make lives whole. ~ Roger Caras.
My greyhound dog, Wolf, greeted me with her usual ‘wolf smile’ and happy dance
around me when I came home from church one evening. Large, fast swags of her
tail showed off her excited mood. I dashed off to my bedroom and wore my outdoor
gear.
My summer evenings were punctuated by a routine round up of our cornfield. This
was my favorite part of farm life – patrolling the ten kilometer perimeter of the ripe
cornfield. I particularly enjoyed the cool breeze and the clear night sky, studded with
thousands of twinkling stars. Further in the distance overlooking the cornfield, the
local hills silhouetted against the rising moon. The hills housed what we called
‘farmers devils’, marauding wild pigs that destroyed crops during the night.
With Wolf behind me, I dashed off into the somehow eerie night. Croaking bull frogs
and chirping crickets filled the night with a rhetoric song. ‘This seems to be a
different season’, I murmured to myself as I munched an apple. Different in that we
had no significant crop destruction yet. Wolf and I followed our usual path that
meandered along a seasonal stream, down to a swampy patch while keeping close
to the five strand barbed wire that snaked around the cornfield.
A cool breeze chilled my face reminding me of the indoor comfort I had forgone.
Wolf trotted in front of me, eagerly sniffing the sides of the grassy path. The thought
of a warm cup of coffee back at home carried my mind away that I did not realise
Wolf had picked a wild boar spoor. Adjusting my cap, I moved on, humming my
favorite hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Wolf roared
and growled with a high pitch. My hair rose! I hadn’t heard Wolf bark in that manner
before! ‘Boy, you are in for it’, a thought raced through my mind as I tried to figure
out the impending danger. Myth had it that the western part of the farm was
haunted. The area overlaid an ancient cemetery. I could hear my heart pounding.
‘What could it be?’ I wondered. I gathered up enough courage and brushed aside all
negative thoughts. ‘It could actually be a good opportunity to prove my knighthood’, I
comforted myself. And that it was not. Part of me was afraid to move on. Part of me
felt an urgency to do so, quickly. ‘Whatever it is, Wolf‘s brave enough to handle it’, a
comforting thought raced through my mind.
Wolf’s abrupt barking suddenly turned into a loud whining. Fear gripped me and I
could hear my teeth chattering. Sudden deep grunts followed. A wild boar! My heart
was now beating faster. In a split second, I saw a huge dark figure heading towards
me. I could not figure out what it was. The sight was blurred. An abrupt loud grunt
sent cold shivers right down my spine. A wild boar! My suspicions were confirmed.
The beast bulldozed its way through the dense bush, clearing everything on its way
like an express train. ‘Wolf!’ I gasped. The beast gritted its teeth and momentarily
crushed me against the barbed wire. I lost my breath. ‘Help,’ I cried. ‘Help me! I
yelled. I thought Wolf was dead. I heard a weak whining. ‘She’s still alive’, I groaned
in pain.
With everyone safely tucked indoors in the cold night, the probability of help from
home was nil. The beast ripped through my left thigh with its tusk exposing raw
flesh. Sharp pain radiated throughout my entire body. I crashed on the barbed wire
with the crown of my head. The wire’s sharp ends ripped through my clean shaven
head sending painful jabs down my abdomen. Blood oozed through the sharp jabs
on my head flowing over my already wet eyes. Something with sharp ends had
entered my right eye. It must have been an insect as it made painful movements to
free itself. With a blind left eye, visibility was reduced to zero. Suddenly, it dawned
on me that death was just moments away. ‘Oh Lord my God, please have mercy on
me’, I murmured a short prayer.
In the ensuing confusion, Wolf sank her canines on the raging boar’s back, forcing it
to make a violent U turn. Round and round like a merry go round, the beast turned,
trying to free itself from Wolf’s vice like grip. Meanwhile I struggled to free myself
from the barbed wire and crawled on all fours a few yards away, praying for divine
intervention.
What followed remains mysterious to me. For some reason, the beast’s courage
deserted him and he left. I continued to crawl, pulling my ruptured leg along. I could
not tell whether I was heading eastwards, westwards or northwards. I was
disorientated. ‘So this is how the blind see’, I said to myself trying contain the
grueling pain throughout my body.
I almost froze to death with fear when I heard Wolf’s heavy breathing right beside
me. I thought the beast was back to finish me off! I heaved a deep sigh of relief
when I realized that it was my dog Wolf. The feeling of relief temporarily overrode
the pain and I momentarily felt normal. The dog must have sensed that I had lost my
sight. She licked my bloody face and limped in front of me. ‘Limping?’ I wondered.
The beast had mauled one of the dog’s hind legs. Slowly, I continued to crawl
behind the limping dog. Wolf was now my seeing dog. ‘Lead me home buddy’, I
mumbled. I was bleeding profusely. My whole body was hot like a blast furnace. I
thought I was going to die. It was the most painful moment I have ever gone
through. After a grueling one and a half hours, we were home. It was a long and
painful journey.
It turned out that only my tendons were ruptured with no fracture. However, my dog
was not so lucky. Her left hind leg had to be amputated. The beast had virtually
crashed all bones. As if that was not enough, only an ugly stub had remained on
what was once her beautiful tail. My recovery was steady but took long. My visibility
was shortly restored but mobility took quite a while. I had to move with the aid of a
walker. At first, Wolf was confused by the walker, but she still attempted to guide me
through the farmyard.
Four months later, wolf was no more. She died of snakebite one afternoon. I was
grief stricken. My friend was gone. Wolf left an indelible mark in my life which time
will not erase.
Wolf was not my whole life, but I feel my life was incomplete without her.

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