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What I learned from a Ugandan dog

13 January 2019

Throughout my internship in Uganda I will stay at an amazing place in Kampala. It had just one problem. One big problem. .

The big guard dog Reca did not like me from the start. I tried to tap her when I entered the house for the first time and he directly bit me (not hard). I ignored it and moved on.

Unfortunately I got sick the second day and did not get so much out of my room to get used to the dog and the surroundings. When I got out in the evening the dog was suddenly barking at me so left a bit cautious.

The following days the same thing happened. While I tried to hide my caution I started to grow fear that the dog would attack me again. Every time I moved outside, the dog looked at me with suspicion. When I looked her in the eye she started to growl. I experienced that I was getting nervous by having to pass the dog again.

Then yesterday I knew action had to be taken. With breakfast I went outside and started to talk to the dog, all went well. I felt great as I thought I had solved the problem.

When I went shopping with my roommate he started to aggressively bark again at me when I left. On my return he bit me again (not hard) and although I said I was fine, I felt terrible. I felt something I had not felt for a very long time.


A very strong and deep fear for that dog attacking me, biting me. I have been bitten hard by a Jack Russell when I was a newsboy at the age of 12 and although usually surpressed it now came back to me.

I texted the owner with the problem and he immediately returned home. He told that the dog was beaten a lot by his former owner when he was young (a white man) and can therefore be fearful of them. While at that moment I felt a really strong fear I was able to overcome it and direcly confront it by giving the dog some peanuts (he loves it) with the owner.

It was a completely different dog, loving and playful. Instead of biting he ate the peanuts out of my hand without any aggression. I fed him peanuts again later that evening and slowly I could overcome that deep sense of fear by focus on the image of him eating out of my hand instead of him staring at me and then attacking.

This morning, the situation was changed completely. I still had some fear left but it dissappeared at the first peanuts. We now trust each other and have become great friends.

What I learned?

That sometimes you are not able to solve things on your own. That it is so good to have friends to help you out when you have a problem.

That everyone have his own story and that sometimes only by sharing it you will be able to understand each other.

That fear can be an extremely unpleasant feeling, but the best way to overcome it is through confrontation and not focussing on the bad things that might happen.

That trust is of extreme importance.

And that peanuts are his favourite snack 😉

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