That was the thought on my mind as I prepared my weapons of war. Friends, cousins, and even enemies were coming together for Operation No Escape (ONE). We had declared war against grass cutters and all forms of bush meat. Metallic traps, shot guns, catapults and matches were being prepared. The neighbourhood was bubbling with excitement. It was definitely going to be lit!
I stepped out of the house to go get more ammunition for ONE; make I no carry last.
Walking down the street, I remembered the tasty yummy pepper soup goodness from the catch last year. Pure bliss! My thoughts shifted effortlessly into dreaming about this year’s version. I was going to devour everything till people…
Something was rudely interrupting my daydreaming and I wasn’t happy with it. I opened my eyes to see what it was and froze mid-stride. The eyes looking back at me belonged to Mazi Uche’s dog and it didn’t look happy to say the least. It had a mix of rage and fury written all over it.
Several questions whizzed through my brain rapidly. ‘Should I stand still or keep walking? Maybe lie down and play dead? Perhaps it hadn’t even seen me so I could play it cool, ignore it and we both go home happy…’
The louder growl catapulted me into motion. I ran as fast as I could, like my life depended on it. Didn’t it? I only wish I hadn’t just finished the hot bowl of fufu that seemed to make my legs extremely heavy. Oh the shame! ‘A whole me’ me running from a dog. But that was the least of my worries. A dog bite threatened my life so my ego would heal later. I ran and ran but a quick glance over my shoulder told me I was losing the race. To imagine that I was already panting!
I did what anyone who felt helpless would do. I began to shout. All sorts of things.
“Mazi Uche, come and carry your dog…” “Oh God, come and save me…” “Somebody help me o…”
I’m not sure what else I screamed till I felt a sharp pain in my left leg as the dog sank its jaws in, pulling me to the ground.
“Yeeeee. I don die finish!”
I closed my eyes to wait for the end, asking God to forgive me my sins, when Mazi Uche and his son came to my rescue. My shouting was not in vain after all and I get another chance to live. Phew!
As he and his son subdued the dog, he said “I’m so sorry Ugo. I don’t know what has gotten into him these days. He’s been unusually aggressive.”
He reached out his hand to help me up and a sharp pain shot through my leg. I bit my lower lip trying not to cry, so as to save the remaining shreds of my ego. I wasn’t so successful however because Mazi Uche noticed, and insisted on taking me to the village health center while his son took the dog home.
He helped me into his truck and we arrived the place about fifteen minutes later, rather uneventfully. After the initial documentations, the doctor came over to hear the details. Then he asked if the wound had been washed with soap and water.
“Soap and water? How does soap and water relate to a dog bite, Mr. Doctor?” I said.
“It is very much related Ugo. When you wash a dog bite wound with soap and water immediately or as soon as possible after the bite, it reduces the risk of contracting rabies; that is peradventure the dog is rabid.” The nurses got some things and began washing the wound.
“Really? Never heard that before! I’ve learnt something today.” replied Mazi Uche.
“Is it up to date with it’s yearly vaccination against rabies?” the doctor asked.
“Vaccine? For a dog? From where? Doctor, e be like say you like this dog pass me. Abeg leave this dog and treat me first.” I said sulking.
Everyone burst out laughing.
“You’re funny but I don’t like the dog more than you. The vaccination status of the dog will help me determine the treatment you need. And to answer your question, the dog will get vaccine from the veterinary doctors. If the dog has been vaccinated, you may not need the very expensive immunoglobulin injection.”
That was when Mazi Uche spoke up. “Did I hear you say expensive?”
“Yes sir. The immunoglobulin injection is actually more expensive than the vaccine.”
“Doctor, these things you’re saying, o di kwa egwu. Anyway, my dog cannot be rabid.”
“Why do you say so sir?” he asked politely.
“Because he’s not foaming at the mouth. He’s only aggressive.” replied Mazi Uche.
“That’s not entirely correct sir. Many people believe that a dog must foam at the mouth and be aggressive when it has rabies but there may even be no symptoms. As a matter of fact, if the rabies virus enters a dog, or a human being, there will initially be no major symptoms. The virus just keeps multiplying silently for days, weeks, months or even years. Eventually it travels to the brain and that’s when the dog may start being aggressive, attacking and biting people, or in some cases, becomes paralyzed. At this stage, the rabies infection is very advanced and the person, or animal is likely going to die.”
It hit me like a flash. “Oh! So that’s why people say if a rabid dog bites someone it will die right?”
“Exactly. It’s not the biting that makes the dog die but by the time it starts becoming very aggressive it is already quarter to die.”
Mazi Uche paused a minute to digest this information. “So how can we tell if a dog is rabid?”
“There are some tests but most of them can only be performed on a dead dog. That is why it is important to vaccinate dogs.”
Apparently, Mazi Uche’s dog was not vaccinated so the doctor recommended series of injections that fight the rabies virus over the next few weeks. Then he walked away, leaving me to my fate. At the door, he turned round and said, “Ugo, when next you’re confronted by a dog, try not to be afraid. Just stand still and wrap your arms round your body. That may make it go away. If it doesn’t go away, and attacks you, curl up like a ball instead of running.”
Why didn’t I know that before?
The nurse came towards me with the first injection. I was crying in my heart for my bum or wherever they were going to inject.
• Bush meat – Slang for game; wild animal or bird hunted for meat or sport.
• make I no carry last – pidgin phrase that simply means ‘so I won’t be the weak link.’
• Fufu – a staple West African meal made from cassava.
• A whole me – Someone of my caliber.
• Yeeeee – An exclamation; this time suggesting panic.
• I don die finish – Pidgin phrase meaning ‘I’m dead.’
• e be like say you like this dog pass me – Pidgin phrase meaning ‘it seems you like this dog more than me.’
• Abeg – Please
• O di kwa egwu – an Igbo phrase meaning ‘This is incredible.’
• Quarter to die – Pidgin phrase meaning ‘Practically dead; almost dead.’
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