I was hoping I’d never have to write this post, especially not so soon.
I’m so very heartbroken to announce that my companion Amigo died on Thanksgiving Day. He was just a little over 4 months old.
He was bitten by a rabid dog at the beginning of the month, and began to show signs of rabies on Wednesday before he was put down by my host family.
It’s hard to express how important Amigo was to me, especially since we only knew each other for a short time. But suffice it to say, I wouldn’t be here without him.
Being a Peace Corps Volunteer is hard work. It’s extremely difficult to be the only American in a 10-mile radius, not being able to ever blend in, to feel like you’re sometimes alone. Don’t get me wrong; I love Peace Corps, and I wouldn’t change where I am for the world. But it’s challenging.
Amigo was by my side when I found out that my grandma had a stroke. He sat with me while I packed my bags to head home last month.
We went to the post office together, the heath clinic, my host family’s house. Anywhere I went, he demanded to follow.
Amigo was a local celebrity. My neighbors absolutely adored him, especially my next-door neighbor, who greeted me every day by asking, “Amigo po-ya?” (For those of you learning Bassar at home, she said, “How is Amigo?” The correct answer is “Alafia.”)
Amigo helped me get out into the community. For the first two weeks at my site, I was so afraid to go out that I spent most of my time in my house. Amigo gave me a reason to meet my neighbors, to practice my French (“Have you seen my dog, Amigo? He is lost. Did he pass by your house?” was a pretty common conversation I had after getting Amigo), to leave my door open.
Without Amigo, I never would have washed my sheets in September (he peed on them). My house never would have become a fun safe space for my middle school neighbors working on their homework.
I remember the first time I held him a couple months ago. I had never felt the way that I did then. I was so comforted, so excited, so peaceful.
We had a lot of plans left that we’ll never get to achieve. We wanted to get matching Star of David outfits. We wanted to go on runs together. We were going to spend a week ignoring each other after I took him to get neutered.
I feel so very distraught that his life was cut short after only 4 months. I like to think that he had a good life, for the short time that he had. He never had to worry about finding food or water, knowing where to sleep, or being eaten, which is an aberration from the average life of a Togolese dog, unfortunately.
I don’t know what happens next. My host mom is already looking for new dogs for me, which is sweet. But I’m not sure if I’m ready. The best things in life can’t be easily replaced.
So for now, I’m going to try to find a silver lining in the next thing in a laundry list of bad things.
- I’m grateful that I had Amigo as a companion, even though it was for a short time.
- I’m so appreciative of everyone who sent Amigo gifts. He loved his chew toys and dog treats and bones! A special shoutout to Melissa, Amigo’s favorite American.
- Amigo is DEFINITELY in dog heaven right now, eating poop and not wearing a collar. (He hated his collar almost as much as he hated me.)
- My friend and Peer Support Network all-star Paige really helped me to stay appreciative for all the good that I have in my life. It’s easy to have tunnel vision for the bad things, but I can’t be blind to the amazing good around me every day.
- My pink eye is almost gone! (I am trying really hard to find silver linings, if you couldn’t tell)
If you have pets at home, please give them a big hug for me. And while you’re at it, vaccinate them! YOUR KIDS, TOO! Remember that life is so preciously short, and that every day is a blessing. Take a moment to tell someone you love that you love him. Do something kind for a stranger. Love unconditionally.
Thank you all for being a part of my life and my still phenomenal Peace Corps journey.
Here’s to an easy December,