There is an increase in pet owners especially in Nairobi if the recent sightings of people tugging along with pets in their morning and evening walks on the streets is anything to go by. The rise in pets is further attested to by the growing number of Pet stores which sell pet food and other paraphernalia involving the ownership of furry friends.
There is an increase in the number of Pet shows the most notable ones which include the Dogtober Fest and the Shaggy Dog Show which attract thousands of pet owners every year to take part in competitions involving dogs. The shows have access to food and animal merchandise and nuggets from professionals on how to take care and manage pets. You walk around Nairobi in the pet shows and you understand that by the day, men and women are tapping into pet ownership popularity to make careers of themselves as dog walkers, dog daycare centers for pet owners going on long journeys and even pet photographers.
Pedigree pets are the most popular breed by far and a casual look at most of the dog owners, shows that most people own German Shepherds because of their perceived intelligence, loyalty and tenacity as worker and security dogs. Most kennels keep the large breed dogs like the South African Boerboels, German Shepherds, Belgian Malinoises, Great Danes just to name a few. Security dogs are in high demand.
Prior to the rise of pedigree breed dogs, the most common dog in the households in the Kenya was the ‘Bosco’ which was considered an inferior breed and in no mean terms. Often referred to as the Mutina, Shenzi, Silly Village Mongrel amongst other derogatory names the ‘Bosco’ stood no chance when the imported breeds hit the Kenyan market. It was a considered a scrap hound, a fulltime scavenger which would only come back to its home to sleep and scrap for more food. They were neglected for the sole purpose that made them different from other dogs, they are hardy and adaptable. The ‘Bosco’ picked up a tagline for being a cowardly dog, and useless for every other thing required from security dogs but be present and loud. It was a shameful atrocity.
Of all the 3 dog shows I have attended to this year, The ‘Bosco’ has been making a subtle but steady comeback. On talking to dog owners some who own up to seven dogs of different pedigrees, most are of the opinion that the ‘Bosco’ breed which they have fondly come to christen the Kenyan Shepherd Breed is a bargain dog for anyone that wants to own a pet for a number of reasons.
Dog food is expensive in the Kenya and the rising popularity of pet keeping means that dog food sellers compensate for the rise in taxes on the products buy raising the purchase price. A pedigree dog feeds like a small army and the more of this breed of dogs you have the more you spend in food. A South African Boerboel owner with a 65 kg dog in one of the dog shows admitted that his dog would eat 1.5 Kgs of dog food every-day. For his 6 dogs he ends up buying 3-4 bags of dog biscuits every other 3 months and a bag goes for Ksh 4500. He is not the only one, an owner with 7 dogs admitted that the downside of keeping such a large number of dogs being that it was overly costly to feed, vaccinate and groom the pets. Feeding expenses will humble a pet owner to the stark realization that the lesser you spend on food while maintaining a fully functional pet is an understated bargain.
“They are cheap, they are adaptable, they are highly intelligent, they are sharp and good to be around kids. They are the perfect dogs for the family” says Amy Rapp. She owns two Rottweilers and a KSD which she says is her favorite of the 3 breeds.
Come to think of it, the KDS breed is wired for the Kenyan environment, which is why you will find a stray dog that is flea infested but still alive and scavenging. The same cannot be said of a German Shepherd with my aunt always complaining of high vet bills with her hers, breed dogs are fragile. I am yet to hear of any ‘Bosco’ owner lamenting about vet bills save for neutering them which costs less than Ksh1000. KSD’s will eat everything that their owners eat. Their diet is quite flexible and as long as they are well fed, they will always be contented dogs.
They are alert as compared to their counterparts and will raise hell at the mere instance of anything amiss. They are not quiet security dogs, they are loud barkers and always alert.
There is not much to spend in grooming as their short coats are easily suitable for the environment, thus will only require a regular wash occasionally.
They are social pets. They are good with children and I am yet to hear of any fatality so far arising from a KSD’S within its immediate family. If well trained, they make excellent companions to children and the family.
One can easily get a ‘Bosco’ at the KSPCA offices in Nairobi. The dogs are neutered and have basic house training. For one to be allowed to get a pet, they have to look at the prospective owners temperament and work schedule and whether one has a family or not. Ultimate the pet chooses the owner which works out for the greater good of the parties involved. It will only cost you about Ksh9,000 which if you ask me if one cannot afford, then they have little business keeping a pet.
In as much as a lot of people want to be pet owners, attention ought to be paid to the fact that many dog kennels are closing shop because of the rise in maintenance costs of good pets coupled with the market being overpopulated with inferior breeds resulting from inbreeding. Whereas a German Shepherd could go for Ksh50, 000 in January this year. The current market price is Ksh20, 000 or less.
A Kenyan Shepherd Dog also known as a ‘Bosco’ goes for less, feeds on less and is the perfect value for money for anyone living in Kenya.
While the market value and market need for dogs change, the Kenya Shepherd Dog remains unwavering in its consistency of cost, usage and consideration of its owners pockets, just like a mans best friend.