Many of us love pets. But there are some that nurse a syndrome called pet aversion. All manner of domestic animals are harboured as pets. The courageous ones domesticate wild animals like lions, tigers, cheetahs, bears, crocodiles, baboons, monkeys, hyenas, falcons and even pythons and treat them as members of their households. However, some of these tamed animals have turned out to cause the death of their keepers, having been untamed by their innate killer instincts as they grow up without anyone sensing danger.
Among all the animals God created, dogs, not foxes, are my favourites. As a kid, puppies fascinated me a lot because of their innocence, playful and friendly nature. As I grew up, my desire to keep dogs also grew correspondingly. One interesting thing I discovered later in life is that when most dogs come across me, no matter how irascible they are, they wag their tails.
I had a family friend in Jos who was passionately loathed by one of my dogs named West. Despite being a regular caller at the house, the dog always growled and/or barked at the sight of our friend. Even at the sound of his motorbike pouring forth from about 100 metres away, West would hurriedly abandon whatever it was doing and start howling amidst vibrating jaws to announce the coming of an unwanted guest. It is still a mystery how West was able to pick out the sound of his motorbike in the midst of tens of them reverberating along the street leading to the house!
Some tribes in Plateau state love dogs as both pets and delicacy. One evening, I visited an Ngas friend. He served me with some peppered meat. I forked one piece and took a bite. Then, he asked me: “How do you like the delicacy?” I raced to his loo and vomited all night long almost to the point of evisceration.
The dog is commonly referred to as man’s best friend… faithful and watchful even when one is asleep. Dogs are known to risk their lives to save their masters. Unlike cats which are generally seen as enemies within, dogs can hardly compromise. Cats are believed to be agents of darkness, operating in cahoots with witches. Besides using them to scare all manner of rodents away, there is hardly any other usefulness the cats serve as pets. Dogs rarely turn on their owners no matter the situation, except when afflicted by rabies.
A cousin of mine suffered a cat attack one early morning while we were growing up. A cat kept by the household to ward off rat invasion was on the prowl that early morning when it sighted my cousin’s restless manhood or was it boyhood behind the sheet. The cat mistook it for a furtive rat and pounced on it. We all scrambled from our sleep and headed in the poor boy’s direction when he let out an SMS or save my soul.
As we rushed along, the fierce-looking feline did not back off. It must have reasoned that we had come to interfere in its primary assignment of rat elimination. Raging with anger, I gave the animal a hard kick with my in-step. Its loud mew echoed around the neighbourhood as it flew towards the ceiling. We quickly unveiled the boy. Fortunately, his boyhood was still intact.
Only recently, we were treated to the bizarre news that a python pet belonging to the sales clerk at the Office of the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB) in Makurdi, Benue state, Philomena Chieshe, constricted a whopping sum of N36m and later gulped it, probably with a carton of MORE lager to wash it down.
However, it would have been more believable if Philo had claimed that the huge wads of naira were eaten up by rodents. There are more rats than snakes in Benue state. An average Tiv man or woman will corroborate that. I am very sure Philo is not a Tiv. If she were, she would have blamed the paper-eating house rats in the state for the heist.
If Philo had laid the theft at the doorstep of Benue house rats, I would have believed her. A thieving house rat once put me in trouble with my old man. When it comes to being zero-tolerant to stealing, my dad was worse than Buhari, so to speak. The ultimate criminal in the animal kingdom had invaded our pot of coagulated stew and carted away a huge chunk of meat, leaving a gaping hole on the surface. And since I was the only kid at home, I became the primary suspect. I swore with heaven and earth that I did not have anything to do with the missing meat. I got more spanking for denying the undeniable.
After crying for a long while, I decided to investigate the crime. I needed no Magu to do the probing. Despite my aching little frame, I disappeared under the wooden bed amidst sobbing and began to probe. Then, lo and behold, I discovered the footprints of the thieving rats and a trace of the stew. When I drew the attention of my dad to the discovery, he apologised profusely for doubting me and compensated yours truly with two pieces of meat for the next meal.
But Nigerians have a diabolical sense of humour. Just a few days after the disappearance of the cash in Philo’s custody, the social media went viral with the video of a teenage girl bearing a copy of the Bible and agonising in supplication. Her eyes were filmed with “genuine” tears as she pleaded with God not to open her eyes to see where stolen cash is kept so that she could blow the whistle. Rather, she was calling on God to transform her into a snake so that she too could swallow money and become rich… with the caveat that she should be restored to her human form after ingesting the cash!
All told, whether Philo was being wise as a snake or not, the good news is that the JAMB Registrar, Prof. Ishaq Oloyede, has blocked all the avenues for any kinds of snakes, from cobra to rattlesnake and from python to anaconda, to swallow any cash from now on. In fact, Prof. Oloyede should decree that henceforth, no JAMB staff should keep any species of snakes and even monkeys as pets!