Mrs. Tessy Onasanya had been a pet lover for a very long time. She is particularly passionate about keeping dogs. In this interview with DAYO EMMANUEL, she narrates how meticulously she takes the well-being of her current dog, Maxwell, an Alsatian male now 12 years old. According to her, Maxwell is still a virgin at its age after a female she got for it died. Excerpts:
A recent study revealed that children who keep pets can be more intelligent, more compassionate than those who don’t keep pets. From your own experience as a pet owner can you relate with this?
I don’t know if I can attribute my children’s intelligence and compassionate heart to owning a pet or not, but if research says so, then there must be a reason for that. There must have been some factors that have caused the researchers to take that stand. I have never really attributed these traits to us owning pets, I grew up with pets and as a married woman with family we have owned pets for years, we are a family of pet lovers
What pets do you keep and what are the challenges associated with keeping pets?
I have kept dogs all my life, my family and I love dogs, pets are very expensive to keep, if you really want to keep one, you have to treat them as well as you will treat a human being; their foods, their doctors’ visits, inoculations, de-worming, general grooming, vitamins, take them for walks, teach them manners and so on and so forth. Buy them toys, give them treats. Love them. Getting someone to care for them the way you really want is also a challenge in this clime. When I have to be away, I must first think of getting a good care giver for my dog, someone who will be there for him like I do.
Its really a lot of work…
Exactly. I must get a person who will make sure that he gets to eat well, notice when there is something wrong so he could be quickly attended to. He should be there to spend time with him, bath him regularly, once a week especially when the weather is good. Disinfect his house once a month.
Many pet owners especially those who keep dogs have made so much financial gain through breeding and sales of puppies. Do you think it is a sustainable business going by our recent economic state and the rigorous efforts that go into keeping dogs?
So I heard, but my reason for keeping a pet isn’t for financial purpose, am sure people who are in this line of business understand the secret of the trade.
In this environment, people ask us if we would not recoup all the money we have invested on our dog by letting him mate with another dog, and we just simply say No! I have a thorough bred Alsatian, in fact the parents were brought in from the USA. People even joke, that my dog is aje butter dog. (Over pampered dog).
I learnt five years ago mating costs about N10,000 and a female puppy will be given to the owner of the male after delivery. People have built big business around it. Have you heard about such trade?
Some even charge more! Also there are advantages/disadvantages to this too, just like humans, if the dog your own dog is mating with has not received the same care you have given your dog, your dog could be exposed to infections that may be life threatening. We actually tried mating him by buying another Alsatian female, but it didn’t work out as planned, after all the care and the investment she suddenly died exactly a year ago due to negligence of the care giver. I was not home then. It was painful for my family, as in we all actually wept and had funeral for her. Since, then we just let Maxwell be.
It means the male owners are always careful since after charging the female’s owner some amount to mate and incur several times the amount as loss if there is an infection…
So I learnt, we never tried it though because we are too protective of our Maxwell.
How old is Maxwell and does it have side effect if it doesn’t mate as you are protecting it?
Does it? We just didn’t want him to mate with just any dog, in fact, a friend actually sent her female dog to us for one week. Guess what? Maxwell snubbed her, that was when we now had to buy a female puppy which died last year after two years. She also snubbed Maxwell. April, the female was the one that now snubbed him and this almost gave him depression especially during her ovulation. My vet could not really help, so we gave up and resorted to our initial purpose of keeping them as pets.
How old is Maxwell?
Almost 12 years old. It will be 12 on 16th November. He is old but we love him and don’t even want to think about Maxwell going one day. It is a natural hunter, a natural security dog, highly intelligent and brave. 16th November is his birthday, we mark it for him.
You mark birthday for it? What special treat does it get on its birthday?
He gets chicken, he like okra soup with yellow eba. So on his birthday, we increase his portion of chicken, and some dog biscuits.
I just don’t like the idea you don’t allow it mate. Mating should be part of its life…don’t you think it is being under utilised?
We didn’t stop him from mating, he choses who he wanted to mate with, and unfortunately she died before they really got around to doing that.
So does it means it has never mated in its entire life?
Yes. He is a virgin.
Really? It must be very healthy…
Yes he is very healthy. We even thought of doing IVF just to have Maxwell‘s posterity just before April died.
Did you consult a vet for the IVF?
Yes I was already talking with pet care at Opebi, Lagos.They are bigger, or Pets and Claws, they managed them for me for a while until she closed down her outlet near me.