On Saturday morning I woke up early to head to Nuku'alofa on the pasi (bus) and opened the front door to a pile of puppies. The cutest most roly-poly little guys I've ever laid eyes on. I picked one up - the smallest of the group. A round little puff of white and brown, she immediately fell asleep in my arms. I was running late so I put her gently back into the pile and hurried to catch the bus (Remember from my last post that they don't stop at a regular bus stop?). When I returned in the afternoon I asked Una where she put the puppies. The response I got was "Mandy, they're lost." Huhhhhh? How do you lose puppies?
Since dogs have a unique (to me, at least) role in Tonga I was concerned that "lost" may have been code for "dead". I should explain that last sentence. Here in Tonga dogs are everywhere and they have 1 of 3 roles:
1. Guard Dog. Some dogs are kept outside of homes so that if unwanted guests are around they will run them off. Crime is very low in Tonga and part of me thinks that this might help with that - there are some mean dogs that walk the streets of Fatumu. Sometimes I use Una as my bodyguard.
2. Pet. This is a rarity. I have never seen or heard of an indoor dog in Tonga.
3. Neighborhood Annoyance. Because dogs are rarely spayed or neutered (spelling?) here there is an over population of dogs in every village I have been in. They are treated like rats - taught to fend for themselves. They are not fed unless they find their own food. We have about 7 dogs that hang around our house ... only two have names because they belong to category 1. (Kooti - which sounds like the dog has kooties and Lassy who is just mean).
Back to Saturday... I was bummed to find out that the puppies disappeared, but continued on with my weekend. Monday came and when I returned from school Una was waiting for me with a surprise. She had found the puppies and our family got to keep one - the one that I had picked up on Saturday. The runt of the litter. And what's even more special is that they gave me the honor of naming her. (They told me that this would be a good way to remember me when I'm gone because they'll miss me). So without further ado, I give you:
Franseen 'Ofa Tauki'uvea
(Franny for short - and 'Ofa translates to "Love" in Tongan)