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Owning A Dog – Life In Lagos

Owning a dog has been such an amazing experience. I never thought it would be part of my life in Lagos. I’ve definitely learnt a few things.

I honestly never imagined that I would ever become a dog mum let alone have two. I could write a whole book on my experience so far, but I’ll try and keep it really short.

Getting the dog

My pups are local dogs, mutts. They are not a special or foreign breed. I don’t know what the stigma is around having local dogs as pets but it has to stop. They are wonderful, intelligent and playful dogs that deserve more than just being street dogs and food for hungry people. Yes, apparently, local dogs are a delicacy for some in Lagos. I really underestimated how many people eat dogs in this country.

You can get a dog through word of mouth – ask a dog owner where they got their dog, or through a vet. Never get a dog in traffic from hawkers. It’s just wrong.

Pets or Security?

I feel like at least 80% of dog owners in Lagos use their dogs for security purposes. This means that the dogs are aggressive, hostile, and frankly poorly trained. It’s really hard to come across a properly trained guard dog. The other 20% of us have dogs as companions. They are in-house pets. This means they require extra care and training. It took some months of sleepless nights for us to potty train both our dogs, but it was worth it! So if you are getting a dog as a pet, make sure you’ll have the time to give them the training they need.

Finding a Vet and Pet Shop

Just like humans, dogs need to be vaccinated when young and also have specific dietary requirements when growing. I strongly advise that you get a vet either before you get the dog or as soon as you do. I think we had 3 rounds of vaccination for them at ₦8,000 each. So that’s about ₦24,000 for a dog for the standard vaccines. Most pet shops tend to have a vet, so you’ll be able to get your dog food and supplements in one place. There are also online pet shops such as Don’t be the person that only feeds your dog eba.

Dogs aren’t cheap

If you want your dog to live long and have an excellent quality of life, you have to be willing to dish out the dough when necessary. That means, paying for their vaccines, getting them the right dietary supplements, the right dog food (canned and/or dried), toys, treats, accessories etc. All this is not cheap. One 400g of canned dog food is now ₦800+ and depending on your dog’s size and breed, they can be eating ₦1,000+ worth of food in a day. What we do is mix things up. We usually buy chicken or meat bones, pork pieces, and lamb (as a treat). We cut the meat into bite-size chunks and boil it with rice and frozen veggies. I can’t just feed them that every day because dog food has specific ingredients and nutrients that you can’t get from just normal cooking. So remember to budget well for your babies!

Local Perception

When I walk Sora and Kumo, most people are shocked because I guess they’ve never seen local dogs on a leash and well-groomed. The comments are always about how beautiful they are. And that’s the thing, no matter the breed, if you take good care of a dog, they will thrive. But having a dog is actually quite common so no one thinks it’s weird. One thing I didn’t realize was that a lot of people are afraid of dogs. Like a lot! I’m going to write another post about my thoughts on this, so stay tuned.

Having 2 Dogs

Having 2 dogs at once must be the equivalent of having twins. We officially got Kumo 1.5 months after Sora, so he had 1.5 months of training before she came along. That made it slightly difficult because we had to do the training phase all over, and sometimes here bad habits would rub off on him, so we would be back to square one. I think it took about 4 months for them to be in sync with their training. And because of the background she had, she was initially hostile towards him. It took a while for her to warm up to him, but once she did, it was a game-changer! It’s such a blessing having both of them because they can entertain each other and always have someone to play with. And you also get to see two different personalities grow. It’s honestly amazing. 10/10 would do again.

Is it worth it?

I used to wonder what would have been different if I had dogs in Canada instead of here in Nigeria. I think the main thing would have been access to a well-run vet clinic. Not to say that there aren’t any here, but I worry sometimes that if there is an emergency, I might not be able to get them the help they need on time. Other than that major fear, the experience has been absolutely amazing. I don’t have kids yet, but I honestly believe that the experience is akin to having a child in so many ways. All the good and bad are there, but at the end of the day, the love they show you makes you believe it’s all worth it. A dog loves you unconditionally and unlike humans, they always know how to show it.

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