Dog Days Adventures with Omar and Vite Vite
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M y father worked on an Air Force base in France while I was growing up. Many years of my childhood were spent playing in the French countryside with my brothers and our two Saluki dogs, Omar and Vite Vite. Salukis are one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Tribes in Africa used them to hunt gazelles. Later, these dogs became prized by royal families and often appear in many ancient paintings of aristocrats. Their appearance is striking: both big and graceful. As a child, Omar and Vite Vite were pretty big compared to myself, and when I took them on walks, they were almost able to pull me down. Salukis are as loyal as they are mischievous. When Omar and Vite Vite got out, they would cause havoc among the farms in that area, chasing chickens and goats. My brothers and I would have to go out and catch them every time. Remember how I said Salukis were used to hunt gazelles? An adult Saluki can run up to 43 miles per hour, and we would spend hours, sometimes all day, trying to find Omar and Vite Vite. They were very fast. Occasionally, a farmer would catch one or both of the dogs before we did. We’d show up to find the dogs tied to a post, and we’d have to stand there and listen to the farmer express his great anger and dismay at what the dogs had done to his place. Getting Omar and Vite Vite back home and out of trouble often required apologizing as much as we could and paying compensation. Our dogs’ mischief didn’t just involve dragging us all over the French countryside. They often got into trouble by being too smart for their own good. For example, one time my mother made a gorgeous chocolate cake — I’m sure you can see where this is going. When we left the house, my mom made sure to store the cake safely in the
“Our dogs’ mischief didn’t just involve dragging us all over the French countryside.”
cabinet above the sink, too high for the dogs to reach. Or so we thought.
When we got home later that day, it was clear both the dogs had gotten into the cake. Somehow, they climbed up onto the counter, opened the cabinet door, and got the cake onto the floor. The amazing thing was that the plate was unbroken! I wish we’d had a camera in there because I still don’t know how they got the plate onto the floor in one piece. By this point, you might be worried since chocolate is toxic to dogs. Don’t worry, Omar and Vite Vite were fine … eventually. They both got so sick and were confined to the backyard for a week, but they lived to escape and terrorize French farmers another day. Those dogs could be terrors at times, but I look back on those days with fondness. It’s the semi-traumatic events that make me laugh today. Despite the chaos, Omar and Vite Vite were good dogs, the kind any boy would be lucky to have.
–Walter E. “Pete” Moak
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