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Shenzi

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For all my frequent excuses about the lack of blog output over the past few months, I hope that readers will understand the current silence when I explain that we have just ended up with a new puppy. Our nights are spent in a deafening din of howling hell, and our days are now freely garnished with piddle. The little brute has teeth like needles, and she is not afraid to use them. Compared to my dear old black labrador pal Scoop, this little pup is a totally different cup of tea. She is strong-willed, determined and utterly fearless.

When I say that she is “quite a character”, I mean that she is a bloody handful. She responds to affection like a stihl brushcutter, and if she is in any doubt, she bites. Fortunately, she is wholly my wife’s responsibility.

We tried on a few names for size, but early experiments with Peggy and Vetch (which is absurdly abundant this year) were cast aside as being too whimsical and feminine. I was away fishing for a few days over the weekend, during which time the name remained up for discussion. I have come back to find her named Shenzi – the Swahili word for barbarous, savage or vicious. The little dog now responds to this name, and there is no going back.

When I was working on a writing project near Arusha in Tanzania in 2009, the outskirts of every local town was populated by a few stray mutts, who eked out an existence on bin scraps and offal. These were dismissively called “shenzi dogs”, and it was generally considered wise to stay away from them if you didn’t want to be bitten. The same logic applies to the lovely (if somewhat bombastic) yellow dog currently dismantling my walking boots. She’ll be a cracking dog in due course, but this early phase is proving to be quite trying.

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