I started writing a blog post about holiday celebrations I’ve done here in Chad recently because of the importance of chronological consistency, but I can’t be inspired by that while I have a much more important post to write about my new best friend and roomie, Joe (as in G.I.). He is in almost every photo in this blog post and now the majority of photos in my camera roll and the only reason I’ve not posted a million photos of him on Facebook is because I have been waiting to officially introduce him and also it takes a lot of energy to post photos, especially when there are so many excellent ones to choose from.
Joe’s presence in my life is a direct result of me being exhausted, frustrated and a tiny bit burnt out after the Faya trip, which you will recall was not all bad, but it still weakened me. Specifically, it weakened the part of my brain that controls the decision-making process as it pertains to the addition of people, animals and/or things in my life. Generally, when offered a gift from someone (and Joe was a gift), I think about many things. First, can I refuse this gift without hurting anyone’s feelings? If no, I take the gift, and plan whom I can re-gift that gift to, secretly so that no one finds out. If yes, I think, “Do I really need this? Do I really want this? Will it take up a lot of space? Will it complicate my life? Will it be difficult to travel with? Will it cost me money?” If the answer to any of these questions is ‘yes,’ I usually politely refuse the gift. Obviously, when someone offers to give you a puppy, the answer to most of those questions is ‘yes.’ So naturally, in spite of really really REALLY wanting a puppy for many years now, I should have said ‘no, thank you, but your kindness and generosity have been noted and I am deeply impressed by this self-less gesture.’ Poetry. And 100% true. An excellent polite refusal. But for some reason, I did not. I said yes. And now I have Joe.
Are there times when I have regretted saying ‘yes’? Honestly, there are. But then I spent three nights away from my fuzzy puppy when I went south to Koumra to install a water system at a maternal health center and I missed him so much it hurt. Or I was actually sick most of that trip, so maybe that was it.
At any rate, Joe and I are best pals. He comes with me to work and sits by my desk or plays outside with the guards. I’m fortunate that they really like him and agree to have him stay at the office while I’m traveling. When I got back from Koumra and went to pick him up, Mbaye was very sad, though he tried to act brave for Joe’s sake. So far only one of our visitors has run screaming from the office when she saw him quietly sitting beside my desk, making no noise or disturbance.
Most people really love him, and this includes all the children in my neighborhood and the family that lives in the flat downstairs from me. The youngest daughter has been terrified of me up until I got Joe. Now she loves Joe and will sometimes come up to knock on my door and ask if she can play with him. She waits for us to get home from work and runs out yelling, “Joe, Joe, Joe, Joe!”
The neighborhood kids also run around after us, yelling his name. He is like a celebrity. And the best part is that no one knows my name, so I can maintain my anonymity.
|The Joe fan club (Joe not included because a chicken ran by|
right before we took this picture and he had to chase that smug noisy little bundle of feathers).
While walk/dragging Joe (he’s not super great on the leash yet), I’ve had several people ask me if I’m selling him. Once when he was being particularly stubborn, refusing to continue to walk with me, a man helpfully told me that Chadian dogs just won’t listen to foreigners. Thanks a lot for embarrassing me in public, Joe.
I won’t bother you with many more stories of how he sleeps curled up by me on the bed or prefers to drink water off the ground to water in his bowl or how much he loves candy and cookies (he is my dog, after all, it’s only natural). Instead, please enjoy this selection of photos (a tiny percentage of the many many I have taken).
|He likes to chew my hair. I'm trying to break him of this habit,|
but how cute is his face?!
|He sometimes eats pumpkin pie with a fork.|
(I got him right before Thanksgiving so he got to try the pie.)
|After his first bath. So much sadness.|
|This is also how I look after taking a bath--cold and shivery and sad.|
I'll be happy to have some warm water showers soon in America.
|Yes, I give him everything he wants when he looks like this.|
Please enjoy the following photos of Joe trying various foods for the first time. You better look at all of them because I've been forced to see all your posts about "Happy 4.5 months, Baby Sparrow! You love singing the alphabet, drooling on Daddy's head, changing the password to the internet, eating chocolate-covered peas, and being Mommy's favorite baby EVER!" #blessed #mommylove #babysparrow #ilovemybabysoooooomuch #howcutearehiseyes #cheeksfordayssss #helookslikehisdaddy #hesalivebecauseofessentialoils #youcanneverhavetoomanyhashtags #yolo
*insert adorable photo of a baby in hat holding a perfectly-lettered handmade poster*
|He loves whipped cream. Just like his mommy.|
|He was indifferent to cheetos. |
Guess that came from his daddy because mommy also loves those.
|He looks indifferent to this sour patch kid, but you're wrong.|
He loves them. He's a genius.
|Can you see the resemblance?|
|He begged to try it, but he doesn't like tea.|
I blame the Americans he spent his early weeks with.
|He loves these Chadian candies. I give him the yellow and orange ones I don't like|
and eat the cherry and strawberry ones myself.
Note: this photo is staged. I take most of the paper off before I give it to him.
|Some cookies that ended up being gross.|
Now that I have a dog, they weren't wasted:
I ate all the chocolate icing out of the middle
and he ate the gross cookie part.
|Un chasseur! He got a lizard.|
|He tried to hunt this chicken too, |
but the owners of the chicken were not impressed by his skills.
|He's a fancy French dog. He loves paté.|
|Watching Home Alone, a classic film in which a little boy's dream|
of living alone and eating junk food for dinner is fulfilled,
aka Amanda's Life Story
|Are you still paying attention?|
This is not my dog, but it is my adorable niece with her dog.
I will leave you with this sage unsolicited relationship advice that Kandos and Herve have now given me. I told Herve after I got Joe that now I don't need a man anymore because I have a dog. (His fondest wish is to see me married and popping out babies, and he is sure that I'm intentionally scaring off the men by putting up "walls".) He responded, "Non, Amanda. Tu peux pas dire ça-- ça c'est trop!" Loose translation: now, you've gone too far.
Kandos, seeing me lying in the office floor by my dog, whispering sweet nothings in his ear, said, "Someday when you find a man, you will love him more than that dog. I hope." I'm not making any promises though. Kandos then forbade me from sharing photos of me lying in the floor with Joe in case it scares off potential husbands. "They don't want to think that you will love your dog more than them. Amanda-you will never find a husband that way!" Ah well, the spinster life for me, then I guess. At least I'm not a cat lady. Yet. I like those too.
|Herve took this photo and sighed.|
|Urbain took this photo and laughed. And Kandos sighed.|
|Driving home from work. I still drive better than most people here,|
even with a dog impeding my vision.
(Calm down, Mom. I don't really drive like this. Usually.)