All my life, I have had dogs. Our dog matriarch was Diana; a lovely pure Rottweiler breed that was bought sometime in 1998. Diana was a powerful and faithful dog to the core. I still remember memories of her and how she usually barked to wane off strangers. Diana was posthumously named by my father, after Princess Diana of the British royal family. I don’t know where animals go when they die, but I keep hoping every day that Diana is at peace wherever she is.
Well, this story is about Queen, my dog; a super brilliant brindle Boerboel. Queen is named after a dog of ours that died sometime in 2014, and funnily enough, asides from the fact that they are of different breed (the first Queen was a descendant of Diana. She was a Rottweiler breed), they have similar traits and attributes. I want to believe the name aligned in some sort of way.
My dog Queen was adopted in September 2020 as a two-month-old puppy. Before then, we did not have dogs for about a year. Her arrival was emotional for us all and we did our best to make her feel at home. Weeks later, I had to travel back to the school from which I did not have plans of staying away for so long, unfortunately, I was away for a whole year! On returning, I became a stranger to Queen.
The humiliation and embarrassment were something I did not really foresee, but then again, it was understandable. Dogs do not have as much cognition as humans. Queen was all grown up and kept barking incessantly at me. It was really awkward, and emotionally destabilizing, and pushed me to tears a couple of times.
“Queen! Queen! It’s me. Remember?” I’d say while trying to offer her food, but she was not budging enough to even take a glance at me.
She did not care that I was being friendly. All she thought – I presume – was that I was a stranger who was not supposed to be in the space as her “owners,” at the time. Did I stop trying? No. I kept coming closer and tried everything possible to pet her into at least, not barking when I passed.
A few days later, I was in the kitchen chopping some vegetables when my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of an animal-like structure hanging around the door. I swiftly looked, and to my greatest surprise (read as fright), Queen was standing there. With her hazel eyes, camouflage skin, and stallion build, she gazed at me. I saw her ear move and her countenance got mean like she was ready for an attack.
“Mummy!”, I screamed under my breath. I was scared that, if I shouted loudly, she would perceive me as a threat. I kept murmuring “mummy!” until she (Queen) came closer and began to sniff me. I stood still while following her every sniff with my eyes, set to run if things went beyond “sniffing.”
Guess what? We became friends that day, and ever since, we have been buddies. Literally, I consider Queen to be my baby And I guess she loves me just as much because she never stays a minute without being close to me, once I’m around.
You can imagine my excitement when I realized my baby (Queen) was going to have puppies! Wheeeeeew! She was taken for breeding on the second week of October 2021. It was really stress at the time, to find a male brindle Boerboel to do the job. Well, we finally found one; a slight variation in their tone though.
Expectantly, I ensured Queen felt safe and secure during the period, as I kept monitoring her every move. I have been present while our dogs littered. It was not a new experience, but it felt surreal that one more time, I was going to witness our dog litter, let alone it being Queen.
Usually, dogs begin to nest about a week before their EDD and even before then, in most cases. Our compound is spacious and has some sandy portions, like the flower pots at strategic corners. We also have a large garden seated pretty in the middle of the compound. Our dogs nested by digging sand, thereby creating shallow holes. They dug as many as six holes, at different corners. Queen did not nest, or maybe she did but I was skeptical to notice. I will tell you why.
I had Queen stay indoors for her first six weeks. Later on, I was advised to let her stay outside so she could nest. But it was the Christmas season, and Queen was not having all the banger sound that filled the air. Whenever she heard the sound, she ran to enter inside and stay close to me. Other times, she would run to the guest room and dwell in one of the sofas there.
Eight weeks in, we knew her delivery was going to be anytime soon, so we started making preparations. My mother noticed Queen was not nesting, so she helped her nest in the veranda, by placing some neat rags at the edge and luring Queen to stay there. Little did we know Queen had other plans.
One faithful evening, people would blow bangers and knockouts in celebration of the Christmas festive. Queen, as usual, was not having it and kept running towards the door, in order to enter inside. But my mother asked we kept the door locked so Queen did not come inside. At this point, there was a mucus secretion from Queen’s vulva. That was a sign of labor. I was really concerned and internally questioned the worst that could happen if Queen was let to come in. So just like Queen, I had plans too.
Fortunately for me, my mother went upstairs. Queen was still scuffing at the door when I rushed to open up for her to come in. It literally took less than ten seconds for her to run past me, and head straight to the guest room while I followed haltingly. On reaching the room, to my greatest astonishment, Queen’s first puppy was out! Of course, I raised an alarm in excitement and everyone converged.
“Who opened the door?!”, my mum asked.
“Yes, who opened the door?”, I answered.
After everyone looked at one another for a few seconds, we collectively retreated to ensure Queen was okay and safe on the sofa and went on to have a vigil that night watching her and helping out.
My stories of Queen can fill a book, but I will stop here, for now, hoping you enjoyed the read.