Django. The small dog with the big heart, by Peter Comley.
Peter Comley's iconic book 'Django. The small dog with the big heart' is dedicated to an outstanding and unique friend and family member out in the bush of Southern Africa.
A cowboy is born
Maun, 'The Place of Reeds'. It should have been called 'The Place of Goats', I mused, or perhaps 'The Destiny of Donkeys'. In the shade of a mopane tree outside the Duck Inn a goat was dancing on the bonnet of a hire car, striving to reach the ever-receding leaves. Little dents were appearing. The driver was sitting at a table next to me, smiling ruefully at the scene while he sipped on his beer. He made no effort to chase the animal away when it moved to the roof and teetered on its hind legs, its sharp hooves beating a tattoo as it continued its tireless quest for the leathery foliage. Perhaps the vehicle had let him down in the bush and he was exacting revenge on its owners. In the 1980s, Maun was a virtually inaccessible dustbowl 300 gruelling kilometres from the nearest paved road. A small but exceedingly energetic frontier town, its human population was outnumbered by the goats, cattle and donkeys that roamed the rutted tracks. The livestock needed more grass than the Kalahari could produce and so, when the wind blew, the sand billowed off the naked land and blotted the world from view. Dust stung the eyes, blocked the nose and, if you opened your mouth to protest, clogged the teeth. And I lived here by choice - not only that, but I had enticed my future wife, together with her favourite cat, away from their city comforts to join me. Maun lay just south of the Okavango Delta - one of the world's wildlife treasure chests - and, as such, was an ideal springboard for the slumbering tourist giant that was just beginning to stir. The runway had recently been tarred and, in season, there was a regular drone of small Cessnas taking off and landing as they conveyed their clients to the few lodges that were scattered through the Delta. Dusty 4x4s brought rugged, sunburnt and decidedly dustier tourists to town and deposited them at campsites and rough budget lodges, where they crowded the showers and the bars. They partied either because they had just survived the wilderness, taking home memories of snarling hyenas, mating lions and trumpeting elephants, or they were about to disappear into that wilderness in search of their own adventures. Maun was a lively place. Unfortunately, with life comes death, and death must play its parallel role in any tale about this wild piece of African bush. The puppy you give your child for Christmas could become part of a python's New Year banquet just a week later; the sparkling eyes of the graceful impala you've been quietly observing - together with the stalking predator - could glaze over in death moments later. A dog - a human dog if you like - came into our lives as the result of the death of Marmalade, Salome's rotund ginger torn. Marmalade put me in mind of Garfield, the overweight comic-strip hero, except that our feline was considerably chunkier. That I played an unwitting role in his departure from this world has haunted me since the night he suffered a stroke. I argue in my defence that he was old and indolent, his idea of exercise being to stand, stretch and take two arthritic paces to his bowl of milk. He did, however, try to wake me, not Salome, to let me know that he was in distress and as I struggled irritably to avoid surfacing from a deep sleep, I clearly remember kicking him off the bed and onto the floor. Some time later, Salome woke me in a panic. There's something terribly wrong with Marmalade! He seems paralysed from the waist down!' And there he was, prone on the floor, scrabbling with his front limbs and growling deeply; each accusatory mewl percolating from some inner depth: 'Why did you forsake me in my time of need? Murderer!' [...]
This is an excerpt from the memoires: Django. The small dog with the big heart, by Peter Comley.
Subtitle: The small dog with the big heart
Author: Peter Comley
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers
Johannesburg; Cape Town 2013
ISBN 9781868425983 / ISBN 978-1-86842-598-3
Softcover, 15 x 23 cm, 240 Seiten, numerous colour photos
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