Last Sunday, I packed my standard “working picnic lunch” of steamed potatoes, soya sausages, rosa tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and naartjies and headed for Mafakathini. Every year, the uMngeni SPCA holds a Township Dog Show. This year the venue was Mafakathini which is between Mpophomeni and Boston and is often completely covered in snow for a couple of winter days. Luckily, it was a glorious Midlands winter day and only the Drakensberg peaks in the distance were white.
This occasion is one of the most joyful on my social calendar. We arrive early to help set up and catch up over flasks of tea with lovely people that we only see once a year, volunteering at the dog show. Then we fill our pockets with kibbles as the dogs and children appear. In dribs and drabs usually, until the word spreads and the flow increases. Dogs begin to arrive on their own to join in the fun, tails wagging and noses sniffing curiously. They don’t like dried dog food much. Who can blame them? They prefer soya sausages.
I absolutely adore township dogs. Besides being beautiful, they are well behaved, sociable and gentle. Their eyes in particular are striking. I spotted a couple with bright yellow eyes. We are always pleasantly surprised at the condition of the dogs, few are really scrawny and not many injured. SPCA volunteer and Dog Angel. Adrienne Olivier says that “Because the show encourages a sense of pride and appreciation of dogs, it helps reduce neglect, ignorance and cruelty and improves the lives of disadvantaged animals.”
Each dog receives a collar, is de-wormed and innoculated and checked by a vet. The delightful Fenda nenja and Bruntville Dog Training Initiatives show off their dog handling skills and then there are prizes for the best handlers and best condition dogs and, of course, The Best on Show. This year the big prize went to Ma Agnes Sibiya and her little Lisa. What a character she was, relating stories of how Lisa creeps into her bed at 7 each morning when her husband leaves for work! Runner up was Ma Agnes Mpangase who was obviously very attached to her little darling, Nkintsela. After all the excitement was over, we spent some precious time with these two women chatting about dogs, life and doing a little dancing too.
The picnic was certainly not the highlight of the day, but I need the security of snacks close to hand and love having food to share with kind friends. Who knows, we may have been snowed in and my picnic box could have saved us!
Have a look at my favourite cause – Funda nenja. Perhaps you’ll make a donation to ensure more kids and dogs have fun and get extra snacks? www.fundanenja.co.za or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to help them hold more township clinics and shows.