201008-p12106221

A week after the death of Maurice, I went over to his family and asked his son Emmanuel if he wanted to help me move the horses.

201008-p1210624

Eager to start riding with me soon, Emmanuel was happy to help, and his brother Eric and sister Sadika joined us.

201008-p1210626

Horseback riding is a precious thing in Niger, and few city children get the opportunity to ride.

201008-p1210629

After so many days surrounded by sadness, it was precious to see the smiles on Eric and Sadika’s faces as they rode bareback on our gentle giant Ebony, beaming with pride.

201008-p1210625

201008-p1210619

201008-p1210667

We then went over to Ishtar’s Ark where another creature awaited:

201008-p1210662

…Sadika’s puppy “Bobino” (Bobby).

201008-p1210686

Like most pups in Niger, little Bobby was taken from his mother as soon as he had opened his eyes, and although his new family loved him, they could not provide for him like his own mother would have, and Bobby stopped growing. When Maurice died, the whole family went into mourning and none of the adults were able to look after the little dog, who grew alarmingly skinny.

201008-p1210672

I normally don’t adopt animals in Niger unless I intend to make a life-time commitment, but here was a situation cased by cultural misunderstandings and sudden death. I told Maurice’s older sons that I could look after the pup for a few days (up to two weeks) until things had settled down for them, and the little pup (then eight weeks old but severely under-developed) had learned to eat solid food. They were very happy for the offer, because they all adored their little fighter Bobby.

201008-p12106431

Sadika was thrilled to spent the afternoon with her pup, who had then just eaten three eggs and had two servings of fresh goat milk.

201008-p1210652

She played catch with him,

201008-p1210647

…and cared for him like her own baby.

201008-p1210678

Watching Sadika tend to her pup was a precious moment for me.

201008-p1210531

If there is one thing I have learned about life lately, it’s that nothing is more important than togetherness. No matter what we achieve and how producive we are or the knowledge we assemble and how wise can become; nothing in our lives is as valuable as when we stop to share the moment with the people we hold in our hearts.

201008-p1220862

As for Bobby the pup; a few days with Sheba and the gang at the office was all he needed to get back in shape (the presence of older dogs quickly inspired him to eat solid food). He is now back with his family, who love him greatly and spoil him as much as they can. A happy ending to the first chapter of his life, to the great joy of Sadika and her siblings.

For more animal activity around the world, visit Camera Critters and Pet Pride!