One blow… One pronounced skip of the calming rhythm of my heart’s steady pace. That was my initial reaction to the news. One blow that plunged me first into shock then into hyper reaction then into the stark flow of silent tears then back into shock. One blow was the only punctuation I felt in the next 20 minutes of an unending sentence that I endured before I felt myself truly breathing again. Just that one blow. Only one…

Missy came into my life when I was 10/11. The years are blurry at this point. But I remember that she came when the office was still on Awolowo road, super close to Munchies. Super close to Bacchus as well (but I wasn’t aware of the latter till much later in my adolescence). And her name was as spontaneous and attitude driven as the person she was named after at a whim – Missy Elliott.

She was the perfect character from day one. And with the trepidation of the young who love all furry four- legged friends but who are also smart enough to have a certain regard for  life and self preservation, I played with her coyly at first; quickly nervous if she got irritated or overly excited with me. Eventually, and not after very long, I decided I loved her. Like you know the kind of love you have for something or someone that never fully leaves your thoughts? That importance of their wellbeing? That happiness in the reunion? I loved her.

It has always been clear how incredibly blessed I was to know Missy. How blessed I still am to have known her. It’s not common in Nigeria to have dogs as pets. This is not to say that people do not have dogs or that people have a shortage of love for these adorably loyal creatures. But what tends to happen is that a lot of people who love dogs in Nigeria do not have the means or the motivations to own dogs, and those who do tend to own them as guard dogs. It would seem of little consequence – these shifts in role title- but the only people with enough patience or time to love these guard dogs are usually those responsible for putting food and water in theirs kennels and releasing them at night. These people are also not usually their owners and more often than not, give abuse instead of love. But I, to my greatest advantage, grew up around dogs who were genuinely loved for their quirks and definitely not treated like “animals”. I was blessed in this way and was blessed to experience the best of Missy in this vein.

As an aside, I will say that the expression “being treated like animals” never sat well with me. Animals should be treated kindly and lovingly across the board, with pretty much the same courtesy we would give to complete strangers at the very least. Even in cases where we eat animals, their method of execution should be merciful and their grooming for this execution, humane. In other words, in an ideal world, that expression wouldn’t mean the things it does now. But back to Missy…

This post was really to acknowledge the life of an amazing dog. A dog that acted a good deal like a cat. One that added a lot of laughter and attitude to my life; a dog who had such emotion that sometimes I swear she could talk. And I think that single immense blow, the one that stopped everything for one second was my heart’s way of affirming what I already knew: that she will be missed tremendously.

RIP Missy



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