IFAW Southern Africa: Hot dogs in the Kasi
This post was filed by Christina Pretorius, Programme Manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare Southern Africa.
March in Cape Town is usually guaranteed to be warm and sunny, not so last Saturday when the day dawned blustery with clouds scudding across the blue above and an ominous looking sea mist obscuring the mountains over False Bay.
By 08h30 volunteers and staff were scuttling around frantically doing last minute preparations for a responsible dog ownership event/show in the Kasi (trendy township slang for “location” - during the years of apartheid South Africa “location” was the general term for areas designated as residential for black people) organized by IFAW’s dog and cat project in Khayelitsha, just outside Cape Town, South Africa.
None of this was going to stand in the way of dog owners in search of a good time and the chance to compete for some really stunning prizes and long before registration queues of patient owners with their licorice allsorts pets had already formed.
Jane Levinson, project coordinator , had stayed up most of the night making bunting which fluttered brightly, and holding areas for the various categories such as “Happiest Dog”, “Most Gentle Big Dog”, “Cutest Dog”, and “Best Older Dog” were marked out with string and potted plants borrowed from our project's base just across the road. Big bowls of water made sure none of the dogs would go thirsty – although with one eye on the fast darkening skies it seemed unlikely.
The arena was the parking lot of the local fire station (great supporters of our project) and even the on duty fire officials weren’t going to miss out on the fun and, dressed for action in their working overalls, staked out a good vantage point for themselves.
Before long we were in full swing. Our project's vet nurse Cindy Chaitel and I managed the registration table, doing our best to figure out happy dogs from cute dogs from the best older dogs – and to be honest most of our decision making was based on which category was looking the leanest in number of entrants. But then this was a fun show, not Crufts.
Against a background of booming township beats, the project's newest volunteer vet Lauren McGavin fitted each entrant with a brand new collar and leash (thanks Jaclyn and staff from the conference department at the Westin Grand Arabella Quays) and soon judging was underway.
This started in some disarray with entire categories of dogs leaping about and sniffing delightedly at the display of prizes in front of the judges table instead of obediently trotting in a circle. In other words it was mayhem.
So then we decided to send out one dog at a time to give the judges an opportunity to give each dog a proper look over. This worked well until about the last category when the sea mist swept in from False Bay sending everyone dashing for cover under whichever gazebo they could squeeze beneath.
In hindsight, the last category should have been called “Best Soggy Dog”.
As the judges considered their verdict we decided to roll out the warm and sunny weather refreshments for the entrants – ice lollies and cooldrink. Frankly, hot soup would have made so much more sense, but no-one seemed to mind and in a short while there were lots of orange and pink moustaches to be seen.
Prizes were handed out by Dr Gininda Msiza, Chief Director of Vet Services in the Western Cape Province, James Fernie of Uthando South Africa (an organisation which takes tourists to this part of the world to visit ngos, including Mdzananda, working in our township areas) and Tendeka Matatu, producer of the award winning and truly astonishing film Jerusalema. (Note to reader: Please see this film, it is brilliant!).
In all a few more than 100 dogs were entered in the dog show with the overall winner being Bulelani Asiya with his beautiful cross-boxer breed dog Bruno. But, as everyone went home, clutching a large tin of dog food, it seemed to us the real winner was animal welfare.
* Special thanks to Charné, Norpharm, Nestlé Purina and, of course, IFAW’s generous supporters all of whom helped make the winners prizes something really special.
For more information on IFAW's work with companion animals, please visit http://www.ifaw.org