Dogs are an integral part of rural life in Namibia. Guarding property, rounding up herds of goats, running alongside laden donkey carts, hunting for scraps, or nurturing the next litter, they are ever present. Constant companions they bear the hardships of life in these arid regions along with their humans. In the heat of the day one may find them lazing under dappled shade, or panting beneath one’s chair. When the desert evenings turn chilly, they dig burrows in the warm sand for shelter. I return frequently to visit families and get to know their hounds (so in the mix of provisions for the people I know I often carry bags of dried seal fat or dogfood). Sometimes on a return visit they run to welcome me, often, however I find they have given up their lives to hunger, or to leopards while defending the livestock, or become roadkill.
The term ‘dog days’ is associated with the hottest period of the year. So named by the Greeks and Romans, “dog days” occurs in late July, around the day when Sirius, the Dog Star, appears to rise just before the sun. This period is often noted as one that brings fever, may be marked by decline or even catastrophe.
Margaret Courtney-Clarke, March 2021