Mthabisi Tshuma, Showbiz Reporter
Dogs are simply really fabulous, yes or no?
There’s a lot that we already know about dogs, and likewise, there is still quite a lot more that we presently can’t seem to find out.
Worldwide, there are reportedly 360 officially recognised dog breeds and these do not include experimental breeds that have yet to achieve official status.
Official lists also do not include mixed-breed dogs, for example, not even “designer” cross-breeds like the Goldendoodle (a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle) or the puggle (a mix of beagle and pug).
Among the most popular dogs are the French Bulldog, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, English Bulldog, Poodle, Beagle and Rottweiler.
The ultimate question has been, is it ideal to keep a dog or not?
For some, dogs are regarded as just a pet, for some a health care guardian, for some a security feature, and for some a nuisance.
For pet lovers, dogs can be one of the cutest things to have in your company as they always adore one’s owner.
A dog is also reportedly associated with many health benefits such as increased opportunities to exercise, go outside and even socialise.
Regular walking or playing with dogs can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
For some, dogs even go the extra mile of helping to manage loneliness and depression by giving people companionship.
Having a dog in one’s presence is also regarded as a security feature.
As each man has their own taste, some do not like the presence of dogs and shiver every time they are around them.
This may include reasons that dogs are social, pack animals, and they look to people for leadership and approval meaning they require lots of attention.
Dogs need petting and play on a regular basis.
If one does not do this, a dog will be unhappy and may even engage in destructive behaviour such as chewing up your furniture and possessions.
To get a peek at the importance of dogs, Saturday Leisure caught up with a prominent dog instructor from Bulawayo, O’Brien Chishanu aka Dogfather Gaffa.
Gaffa who runs a security company, Safe Bark Security currently owns nine Belgian Malinois and eight German Shepherds.
The Belgian Malinois (also known as the Belgian Sheepdog or the Chien de Berger Belge) is a breed of medium-sized herding dog from Belgium.
As a demanding dog that needs an experienced owner, it is known for law enforcement; drug, bomb, and gas detection; search and rescue; tracking; obedience; sledding; agility; and therapy assistance to disabled, ill, or elderly people.
A German Shepherd also known as the Alsatian, is a German breed of medium to large size.
It is a modern breed, developed by Max von Stephanitz from various traditional German herding dogs in 1899.
German Shepherds are famous for their intelligent, loyal, and hardworking natures.
They are often used as guides, therapy, search-and-rescue, police, military, and narcotics and explosives detecting dogs.
While they can come across as aloof to strangers, they are known to be wonderful family dogs.
Gaffa said dogs play various roles in societies and need detailed attention in keeping them.
“Some keep dogs as pets because they make very good family companions, while some keep dogs as security as dogs are very alert and have a protective nature.
I can say dogs are easy to keep and to achieve this, one should make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date, they deworm every two to three months, make sure they are tick and flea free, feed them a balanced diet and they should have clean drinking water all the time.
“Exercise is very important too and one can do this by walking them every day if you can.
The motto to keeping a dog healthy and fit should be associated with the phrase ‘if you can’t love a dog like a family member, then don’t get one,” said Gaffa.
He said a dog can also be used as a weapon.
“A dog can be used as a weapon and these kinds of dogs, we call them personal protection dogs.
They can be trained to react when you’re in danger and such dogs will die for their owner.”
Gaffa said his love for dogs started at a tender age.
“I’ve always loved dogs from a young age and.
I started with mixed breeds (mutts).
When I got my first Belgian female in 2015 called Oceane, a number of people in my community started enquiring about puppies and I decided to get a male and started breeding,” said Gaffa.
He said he was later to be trained at the South African Dog Training College (SADTC) and graduated in 2019.
“Of the dogs we keep, we have a Tarzan, a Belgian Malinois that is specially trained for personal protection, agility, drug detection and currently working on gold detection.
Gaffa who recently registered his security company which has 17 dogs said the company will start operating in May with armed guards, advanced canines, personal protection, VIP protection, private detectives, and surveillance technology for sites and homes.
“As a company, we’ll also offer training of dogs and guards too,” he said.
As the company grows, he said they will support Government initiatives as they eye to set up an anti-poaching unit and personal protection for the disabled.
“Our company will sell and lease dogs and also offer dog handling and training of guards for companies.
We’re looking at running a programme of drug detection so as to support the President’s anti-drug campaign where we intend to run drug detection programmes at schools as the country is facing a drug pandemic from teenagers.”
Turning to the unfortunate cases associated with dog behaviour, Gaffa said there is a need for dog owners to always pay attention to their dogs.
This comes after an incident last month where a man from Selborne Park in Bulawayo died after he was attacked by his dogs.
The dogs mistook him for an intruder and attacked him after he jumped over his gate, having forgotten his keys at work.
“I’ve noticed that some people, especially those who’re well up, just buy dogs because they can afford them, especially Boerboels which are considered rich men’s dogs.
So people will buy dogs, but will never have a relationship with them.
They’ll expect the gardener to feed them, play with them, take them for walks and the boss doesn’t interact with them.” – @mthabisi_mthire