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Life with a dog in Nairobi

As you know, we have adopted a dog, Oreo. She is an amazing addition to our family and we are so happy to have her in our life. Life has been very good since her arrival.

We were cautious about getting a dog. We really wanted to make responsible choices and know what we were about to do. This is about family, after all.

We had Daisy in New York, and we knew that dog life would be quite different here. We needed to fully understand what being a responsible dog owner would require in Nairobi.

First I researched vets. There are a lot of great vets in Nairobi. We chose Dr. Cockar in the Rosslyn Lone Tree area.

Then, where to get the dog, and what dog? We thought through everything from breed to age to size. We determined that a slightly older dog (not a tiny puppy) would be best and one that would grow to be about mid-size (20 kg or 45 pounds more or less). The rest would be about temperament and fit with our lifestyle.

We decided a mixed breed rescue would be good for us and chose to go through TNR Trust. That is where we found Oreo. (FYI: You need to be very careful with breeders here (anywhere actually). If you choose to go that route, research very carefully and confirm that the breeder is part of the East African Kennel Club.)

At ten-and-a-half months and mid-sized Oreo fit the bill. It was love at first sight for us. She is so sweet. She’s a great cuddler, super smart, and doesn’t bark much. Bonus: she’s very energetic. We are active and like being out and about. I’m really happy to have a dog we can take regularly for hikes and runs in Karura or out to Navaisha for the day.

Between time with us and our big garden, Oreo gets to be fairly active. It’s a strange thing for me…having all this outdoor space. I mean, I just open the door and let her out if she feels like running around. We have so much room to play out there.

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It’s great! It’s something we didn’t have in New York. Oreo would not have done well there, not at this age anyway.

While lacking space, New York does offer a lot for dogs, including the ability to easily socialize your dog and lots of services. In Nairobi, it’s not so easy. You have to seek out opportunities to socialize and find services.

Luckily, there are more and more services popping up in the city.  I found a fantastic boarding facility, Yapperville. I also found a great spa and daycare place, VIP Spa in Kitisuru.

Socializing isn’t as easy. Most of the dogs in our neighborhood are not friendly. Thankfully, I have some friends with dogs and we plan to do regular playdates once Oreo can ditch the cone of shame (when her stitches from spaying are out). Also, there are restaurants that are dog friendly, such as Wasp & Sprout and River Cafe.

It’s only been three weeks since Oreo joined us. It’s hard to think of life before her. I’m sure that over time I’ll have more Oreo stories to share and more dog information to pass along.
 

 

Kenyan Elections

The elections are now set for October 26th. The drama level is rising, but things are still mostly peaceful. Mostly. Overall, the feeling is mixed.

Some people are very worried. Others are not worried at all. Just about everyone wants things to go smoothly and be able to move along with their lives regardless of the outcome.

I’m still optimistic about overall peaceful elections. We’ll see what happens. 

Note: I have no opinion on either candidate and no opinion in regard to the outcome of the election.

The Great Migration

Not to be confused with the people migration that happens in Nairobi every year, this is the real Great Migration. We got to experience it on our trip to the Mara. So, what is it?

The Great Migration is the mass migration of wildebeest, zebra, and other animals such as gazelle and impala. The animals move, sort of following the rains, to get to better pastures and drinking water. They move between Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Of course, animals don’t care about political borders and the Serengeti and Mara are the same stretch of land. So, it’s a mass migration across this vast area.

Timing varies depending on the rains but usually peak time is in August. (I don’t recommend going in August as the park will be teeming with obnoxious tourists. More on that in a future post.) We got to see it in mid-July this year as the herds crossed from the Mara to the Serengeti.

We got to view the crossing of the Mara river. We had a great, unobtrusive spot (read: not bothering the animals…again, more in a future post) on the west side of the river and watched a couple crossings. It was amazing. I had seen it on television but it was different to be there.

The sounds, the smells, the vibrations, the excitement in the air is hard to describe. You get close up shots from nature shows, but you don’t get that same feeling. It’s a tremendous experience.

The pictures don’t do it justice but here are a few.

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Waiting to cross


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They approach the Mara


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Crossing, zebras too!

Guest Post: Oreo

Hi everyone, my name is Oreo. I just moved in recently. Mom said that she’s putting up a few more posts that are more timely to what’s going on in our lives right now. She asked me if I’d do a guest blog. Even though she won’t let me chew on the hamper, I agreed.

Some of you might remember reading about how my parents were not going to get a dog in Kenya. Then, they decided that they would eventually get a dog here, when the time was right. Well, they decided the time was right. They were going to take their time, but then they met me and fell in love. Who can blame them?

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As I said, my name is Oreo. I’m black with a little white. Apparently, I am very sleek and elegant. I’m a ten-and-a-half months old (we’re guessing but we think we’re fairly right on my age).

Mom and Dad say I’m really smart. I’m also very active but also a snuggler. I like long walks in Karura Forest, belly rubs, and playing in the garden.

My story is one of hope and the triumph of the canine spirit. I was found injured in traffic in Westlands (a busy neighborhood in Nairobi) by a wonderful lady named Laila. Laila saved my life. She rescued me from the street even though I was so scared and she didn’t even know me at all. I will always be so very grateful all that she did for me.

It turns out I had a broken leg. I’m fully healed now, thanks to Laila and also to my foster parents. Alex and Mark, my foster parents, took me in and fully rehabilitated me. They put in so much time and care. I will always remember my home with them and how much they love me. I love them too. I also love my foster brothers, a.k.a. The Mog Dogs.

I should also thank much of the Canadian High Commission. So many nice people from there helped take care of me—and I needed A LOT of care! It really took a village to help me out.

And now I’m in my forever home! Okay, it’s not official yet. But, Mom, Dad, and I have a really good feeling about it. I’m super psyched to be here. I love the garden. I made a new friend, Pepper, who I get to have play dates with. I also have a giant bed. Life is good.

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Not bad for a girl who rose up from the streets, eh?

If you’re in Nairobi and are interested in getting a dog as awesome as me, contact TNR Trust. (They are also on Facebook.) They have lots of dogs that need a home. Mom is going to write about them in a future post and also about an event they are hosting on the 30th.

If you’re interested in the event, check out the details on their Facebook page. 

I’m sure there will be more posts about me, maybe even from me. But that’s the latest bit of good news for my family: Me!

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Review: Fly-SAX

We usually fly Air Kenya when we travel domestically. This time, for whatever reason, we went with another airline. We flew Fly-Sax.

They were terrible. We left late on our way out to the Mara. This would have been okay if anyone at the airline had any idea what was going on, which no one did. When we landed at our destination (the last of four stops in the Mara), we heard the pilot talking on his cell phone. There was apparently something wrong with the plane.

Thank goodness we made it okay. With three stops between Wilson and our air strip, a lot could have gone wrong. I’m glad the trip itself went fine.

The way back was worse. The camp confirmed with the airline that the flight was on time…but it wasn’t. It was an hour late. Mind you, we weren’t in an airport but rather at an open air field while waited.

Finally the plane came. It wasn’t a Fly-Sax plane. It was from Renegade Air covering for Fly-Sax. The flight was rough. There was a lot of turbulence and the pilot didn’t handle it all that well. I was really happy to touch down at Wilson Airport.

I won’t make this mistake again. I’m sticking with Air Kenya from now on. I’m certainly not going to use Fly-Sax unless there is absolutely no other choice.