DOG-SMUGGLER – The road home.

Leaving the Zambezi Valley in Mozambique in early December 1971 for the Christmas break entailed a little preparation. Firstly I constructed a framework of bamboo poles for the back of my Landy. My tent had a built-in groundsheet, so I laid it flat with the two, to-be-smuggled animal skins inside it, draped it over the frame and roped it down.

Shakwe1Behind the cab, I placed an empty tea-box with the top facing the sliding window, packing my luggage around it. I could slide its lid across to allow access to the cab through the window. I made my Basenji-type dog, Shakwe, a nest of a blanket inside the box.

From the Mozambican veterinary official, I purchased a syringe and vial of knockout drug, which, he warned me, I should only use half to render Shakwe unconscious, injecting him twenty minutes before I reached the border near Umtali.

Half was not enough. I should have given him the lot, but I had thrown the rest away, as Shakwe yawned and snoozed, but would not go to sleep. When I put him into his box, he yowled and struggled out to be with me. I sat in the Landy in the border car-park for so long that the Portuguese officials started giving me strange looks.

Eventually I managed to sneak out and get to the Immigration counter, a big, new concrete affair. Then there was a howl that startled everyone and to my dismay, Shakwe staggered across the car park, following my scent, plonked himself at my feet and went to sleep. Because of the high counter, nobody actually saw him. I gave him a kick and walked away to the nearby refreshment stand to wait for him, but drank three beers before he finally emerged and staggered back to the Landy. Unseen, I loaded him up and drove away.

The Rhodesian Customs and Immigration was much worse. He refused to stay in his box, so I had to leave him in the cab. He nosed open the window and fell out, again following me into the building, but this time the counter was an old wooden one with a flap-up access. Shakwe went straight through and made friends with all the officials. As I turned to go the Customs man said:

“Is that your dog?”

Despite being named Peter, I could not deny it. However, eventually, after I assured the guy that Shakwe had had his rabies shots, and that the certificate had been sent away to apply for his export permit which had still not arrived before we had to leave the country, he kindly let us go!

We stayed over in Marendellas at the Three Monkeys Inn for a few days to attend Norman Trevor-Jones wedding to Shona Stockil, whose family farmed in the area.

I bought Shakwe his first collar at a petshop. He was so disgusted that he set off down the road, yodelling. Bruce Barichievy and I at last caught up with him sitting under a large sign on a lawn, yowling pitifully. Two passing women looked at us in disgust as we sat on the kerb and laughed until we cried.

The sign read: RSPCA.

The wedding was held in the garden of the Stockil home. When folk put their champagne glasses down on the lawn to applaud, Shakwe lapped it up. It was the first time I saw a dog with a hangover.

At the wedding, I met the local vet, who told me to collect another vial of knock-out drug from his surgery the next day, to get Shakwe through the Rhodesia-South African border at Beit Bridge.

Shakwe, pedologist.

Shakwe, pedologist.

It worked a treat, but we only just made it. He was waking up, trying to get out of his box, even as the boom-gate closed behind us! I bought him a big meaty bone at the first butcher that we came to.

About peterjearle

Writer of thriller novels. 5 Published: 'Purgatory Road', 'The Barros Pawns', and the Detective Dice Modise Series:'Hunter's Venom - #1' 'Medicinal Purposes Only - #2', and 'Children Apart - #3; all from Southern Africa.
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