Here's the most important thing that's happened to me in the last two weeks:
Meet Khufu, my tiny, fuzzy, entirely unterrifying guard dog, prime enemy #1: My broom. I became Khufu's mom about two weeks ago when I told my neighbor that I wanted a puppy (they're all the rage in the Peace Corps community). She walked me over to a friend's house and produced this skinny, sleepy hound for which I was fiercely overcharged.
I named him 'Khufu' after an Egyptian Pharaoh, which has the added benefit of being very easy for the Burkinabe to pronounce and giving him something to aspire to. He's energetic, adorable, and follows me everywhere. The first rule of having a dog in this country is don't get too attached. Here in Burkina, dogs are not the cuddly bundles of joy that are allowed to wear booties in the winter and sleep in your bed. They are outside animals, rarely washed, never petted, occasionally fed, and often eaten if they exhaust their usefulness. Many a Peace Corps Volunteer has come home to find that their dog has been killed in their absence, especially if the dog's behavior isn't impeccable. Dogs are kicked, hit, beaten, starved, and left to roam, all of which would land you in jail in the United States.
As a dog-loving American, the very fact that I pet Khufu is considered strange to the Burkinabe. I knew when I got a dog that I would have to find a balance between the Burkinabe way of owning a dog and the American way. Khufu sleeps outside, is fed leftovers for breakfast and dinner, gets a flick on the nose when he misbehaves, and is not allowed to follow me wherever he pleases. (I'm still struggling with that one). At the same time, he's well fed and clean and gets plenty of attention from me when the Burkinabe aren't looking. So, ladies and gentlemen, let's hope my new companion is here to stay.
P.S.- Khufu is now accepting all donations of dog treats and chew toys on so he doesn't eat mommy's feet.