Story proposed by Amory Cobbledick
The names of our pets reflect the world at the time of naming. So when my Shetland pony, Pikkie (Afrikaaans for little one) had a foal, my father christened him Timoshenko, after a World War 2 Russian General.
Our neighbours in the late 1950’s, got a dog and he was christened Farouk. I assume something about this large bull mastiff must have brought to mind His Majesty Farouk I, by the grace of God, King of Egypt and the Sudan.
The name means “the one who distinguishes between right and wrong”. Not a good name for this dog who struggled to make that distinction, nor I believe, could his namesake.
Farouk was of 10/16 Circassian 3/16 Turkish 2/16 French and 1/16 Albanian descent – in other words a real mongrel. Ruki, the name we called the dog, was pure-bred, but also behaved like a mongrel.
The Bullmastiff breed was bred to tackle and pin a poacher that comes onto private land which was sometimes awkward.
Ruki was also called Slobber Joe on account of the copious saliva slobber he produced. This young dog was very big, undisciplined and randy – he tried to knock down any running thing – and then he would mount and hump it, which could be embarrassing or hilarious, depending on your viewpoint.
It happened frequently to all of us. I can remember being paralysed with laughter when it happened to others and absolutely mortified when it happened to me.
Invariably, the subject of his affections was covered in slobber. He also hated horses but was otherwise quite friendly stupid.
While talking about dogs and embarrassment, I will share an agonising experience, if you promise not to tell. Sir Brian and Lady Riva Marwick came to say goodbye to my brother Tim and I at our boarding school, St Marks. Sir Brian was the retiring Resident Commissioner of Swaziland and an old family friend. As briefed, we were waiting, polished and clean in front of Duncan House, when the Austin Princess with fluttering flag rolled up. We could hear the whispers and scuffles of the boarders peering through windows and doors.
Sir Brian and Lady Riva alighted and bade their adieu’s and we blushed and mumbled. Just then Fly, the school mongrel arrived to see what was going on. Unbeknown to His Excellency, Fly cocked his leg and piddled against his tall grey flannelled leg.
Immediately Tim and I gasped and snorted and squirmed and bit our lips; while the audience erupted in poorly suppressed giggles. It was sheer agony.
Fortunately Lady Riva had seen what had happened and hustled him into the car and away. Oh dear! That was extremely painful and funny.
My Dad’s dog Bessie, a red bull terrier kept us in line: she was patient and wise and more sensible than any of us.
Sometimes on Sundays, we would go on a hike into the mountains around Mbabane, taking Farouk and Bessie to look after us.
Mum wrapped tomato sandwiches in greaseproof paper and we would take Daddy’s army haversack and water bottle and off we’d go climbing the hill behind the Police camp. Bessie would lead the way and try to curb Ruki’s exuberance.
We must have made an inspiring sight: three small barefooted boys in large hats accompanied by a towering mastiff and led by a grey muzzled bull terrier.
One terrible day, we met an old grey horse and Farouk went for it, leaping up and biting its throat.
It galloped off bleeding from the throat and we fled. We heard it was found dead and lived in terror for many days…
I don’t recall any other adventures with Farouk, so maybe he was moved to an area where there were no horses and people didn’t mind being knocked over and humped!
I also cannot think of that dog without a grin!