Tanzania had a renown diamond mine, Williamson Diamonds. Its origins as a mining venture was back in the early 1900s. It is reported the Mr. Williamson was at the end of his tether, having prospected all over, and was now “broke”, not even having even sufficient food. He came to one of our mission stations (the hospital station) for physical help and in the process developed a relationship with one of the early missionaries there. That missionary, with compassionate concern, sent him on his way with a large stock of edibles and a bit of money. In short order, Mr. Williamson discovered “mother lode”, a huge pipe of diamond bearing earth, about 20 miles from the mission station.
Over the years, the mine expanded – buildings, crushers, sorting houses, etc. and, of course, mine workers and their residences. Mr. Williamson never forgot the kindness extended to him by that missionary and over the years, as the mine’s success increased, he (and it [the mine]) provided the hospital and station with real assistance. Even during long drought periods, water trucks came almost daily to keep the station’s cisterns replenished. It’s well equipped hospital, with the latest technical equipment and visiting specialists, provided real backup and assistance to the mission hospital. I, myself, was cared for there for torn ligaments in one of my knees. All this, and more, was “free gratis” for what that early missionary did. The mine aircraft provided free transportation both to freight and persons who needed to travel. In fact, Carol and our daughter were granted a trip to Nairobi in Kenya.
Now, what does that have to do with “A Dog Named Lobo”? Because of the value of mined diamonds, security was an ongoing issue. Besides armed guards, Alsatian dogs were used to deter would-be incursions. And, the mine had its own dog-training facilities. After a period of training, the dogs were put through thorough tests and those that passed joined the security detail. Those that failed were sold to Mwadui mine personnel to be used as guard dogs for their homes.
Lobo was one of those who failed. The mine employee who purchased it was later leaving the country and needed to find it a new home. She brought it over to the mission station once when I was there and, somehow, she knew that I had “fawned” over it and the dog and I seemed to have developed a real bond.
Some time later I received a message that the lady wanted to give me her dog. She was leaving shortly and wanted it to have a good home – and remembered my contact with it (and her) earlier. Of course we were overjoyed. Of we went in our Land Rover, bumping down the 70+ miles to the hospital station, ready to pick up “our new dog”. And we did!
It was a lovely and friendly dog, even with all that “security training” it had received. Maybe its friendliness is what caused it to fail the training. Anyway, it was now ours. And, extremely loyal. It kept watch over our house and family for years until we had to leave on furlough (oops! Home Assignment) and we had to give it to someone else.
And, a case-in-point re: its early training as security dog. African men usually walked around with a spear, a long walking-stick or a panga (machete) carried over their shoulder. Even when they came to visit our home on the station, many came carrying those things. If they came with those thing over their shoulder, dog would run at them barking and showing its teeth, holding the person at bay until I came to that person’s “rescue”. It never attacked anyone – just held them until I came. They couldn’t even retreat without the dog following them!
BUT, if those persons came holding their spear, stick or panga down in their arm, not over the shoulder, the dog paid no attention. Oh, of course it saw them but not as a threat. Folks coming to our house soon learned to leave their “shilanga” (weapons) at home or to remove them from over their shoulder as they came near. We figured that the dog’s former security training made it see a weapon over the shoulder as a threat and, if held down in the extended arm, as a non-threat.
Funny thing – when we had to find a new home for it when we were leaving I had any number of Africans in town who wanted it! They saw its value in protection. It sure kept the hyenas away!