Who let the dogs out?

(Alex) Wild Dogs were a bit of a fantasy to the six of us, similar to fairies, unicorns, and the occasional aardvark. We knew that they existed, of course, but in all seven weeks of safari on our big trip, there was no evidence of any dogs. African Painted Dogs, or more commonly known as Wild Dogs, are very endangered in Africa and this fact made me want to see them even more while we had the opportunity in Zimbabwe.

After arriving at the first airstrip, our guide Fausto and his wife Josie told us to keep our eyes peeled as we drove since the area was a prime place for Wild Dogs. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as we made our way through the plains hoping that every movement was not an impala or a small guinea fowl, but a pack of dogs. Two more days of amazing walking safaris in Chitake and it was time to move on to our next destination in Mana Pools with, unfortunately, no luck in spotting Wild Dogs. As we drove off to Mana, I continued to silently look for the endangered animal. Suddenly, I spotted something in the corner of my eye that looked like a silhouette of an ear twitching from the other side of a thick, thorny bush. “Uhhhh dogs!” I whispered to myself as we drove right past the bush they were hiding behind. “DOGS”, I yelled over the loud safari car engine to Fausto who immediately stopped the car. By then it was obvious that they were a pack of the rare canines because the bush could no longer conceal their figures. Bending the park rules a bit (shh don’t tell anyone), we drove off the road and closer to the animal that I was so anxious to see. Pulling closer and closer, we counted a pack of six dogs, escaping the hot African sun. These dogs were even cuter in real life than they were in pictures, I just wanted to go give them a hug, but rational thinking snapped me out of that thought considering they could reduce my body to bones in about fifteen minutes. I was overwhelmed with excitement. Not only had we seen Painted Dogs, but I had spotted them (a rarity in our family as I am usually the last one to identify an animal). As we drove away, all I could think about was my clan of doggies and how nothing could make that day bad.

Now all that’s left on our checklist is an aardvark, but those actually probably don’t exist.






Downward wild dog


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