Wednesday, 18 September 2013

dogs in Benin

Difference #2: In Benin, people don't take dogs for walks.

Our neighbours recently returned from 2 years away in Ghana, West Africa. They brought their big poodle dog along with them, and they said that it was difficult for people to understand how they treated their pet - a mocha-colored dog named Chai who slept in their bed and was part of the family. For people there, dogs were for 2 things: security or supper.

We didn't see any dogs on the menu in Benin, but one of the things we noticed upon arriving in Paris, and then home, was the plethora of pooches on leashes being walked here and there. I'm not anti-dog - we always had dogs growing up - just noticing a big difference from there to here.

People don't take dogs for walks in Benin. In fact, I didn't really see people take anything for a walk. Including themselves. Walks were generally for a purpose - to go to the market, to go to the miller, to go to the tailor. Giving animals their exercise is pretty low priority, it seems.

I've been away for awhile. Summer sabbatical, I'll call it. But I miss this space and what it does to free up my mind, so I'm sporadically back. To write about important things like dogs in Benin. Because the world doesn't have enough people writing about dogs in Benin. Also, our family is speaking this Sunday about our Benin experience, so that has me coming back to this blog and what we wrote during that time.


  1. Wonderful to "hear your voice" again Rebecca. I'm sad to miss this weekend while I'm away at the men's retreat at Silver Lake Camp. I'll be sure to listen to the recorded service.

    Perhaps not unsurprisingly I've been thinking about north american dogs too. Does it glorify God if we spend $40 a month feeding our dog when there are children dying every day of malnutrition? Are we trading human lives for pets? That's a pretty weird concept, maybe it doesn't make any sense, but maybe it is something to consider.

    That said, the companionship of dogs for some people is hugely important. Yes, for some people, a dog is a nice-to-have cute pet. But for others, it is the next closest thing to a soul mate.

    I had a golden retriever growing up that I loved very much.

    1. HI Daniel, Thanks for this response. Funny that you've been thinking about dogs too. :) Your questions are ones I've had too. But I get the companionship thing too - to an extent. My daughters (one in particular) BEG for a dog. Or if they can't have that, then they'll take another guinea pig (we had one a couple of years ago who died). But it's really hard some days for me to think about spending money to feed a rodent in our house. Like doing it on PURPOSE. But I know that having pets teaching valuable lessons - including letting go when they die. But... But... But...

  2. I resonate with both of your comments, Rebecca & Daniel. I think I've become especially uncomfortable with the "commercialisation" of our relationship with our pets in general, if I can use that term. The marketing industry has recognized a market here and it (and other influences) continues to raise the level of what is deemed appropriate for how we interact and care for our pets. I find it interesting that in a recent survey a significant number of participants placed a higher value on their pets, then on humans. Sue S.