This was a long time ago, I was around 12 as we came to Yaounde the capital of Cameroon and I got to know Muffin the roaming popular dog.
As was common for expats, the apartment or house often came with a dog already residing there and since the postings were mostly short term, around 2 years for most, going back home personnel rarely bothered to take the dog with them when they left.
As a result the dog and/or cat that many of them had was just passed along to the next tenant of the location. This is how we got a mid-size dog, probably a mix of border collie and something else, about 30 pounds and long beautiful brown/blond hair. Muffin was a very friendly dog but we soon discovered that he was also very special. The previous owner had told us that we didn’t really need to take him out, he would leave with us in the morning and take care of his business.
What he didn’t tell us was that what Muffin actually did was just leave in the morning and come back sometime before supper!
Back then Yaounde wasn’t a very big town but still a town with thousands of cars and many other city hazards, but turns out that Muffin would just roam around town, mostly keeping downtown which was about 5 or 6 Kilometers from home. We guessed that with the few tourists he had better chances of getting something to eat down there. We soon learned that the butcher also knew him and fed him tidbits every day.
Often in the car that drove me back home from school, as we passed downtown I would see him walking on the side of the road (there were no sidewalks as such), avoiding the cars, bicycles and other hazards. As I got back home he would show up a few minutes later wagging his tail and usually drinking what seemed like a gallon of water.
Muffin was well known in the expat community and the local people were also familiar with him.
Back then I went to church and not all but occasionally while we were attending mass we would hear the clicking of his nails on the hard tiles of the church floor and he would come and see us and all his other friends sitting in the pews. At first my parents were very embarrassed but they soon realized that nobody else seemed to mind and the dog would come and lie at our feet till the end of mass and come back in the car with us.
So every day Muffin would leave in the morning and come back for supper. He almost always slept at home, in my bed.
As I’ve already mentioned many dogs accompanied me during my life but Muffin was really very special.
When we left 2 years later Muffin was passed down to the next tenant of our apartment which was the occasion of many many tears for me and I still remember that I didn’t say a word to my parents for a good 2 months after that. To this day, more than 40 years later I still feel guilty for having left him behind even though there was nothing I could have done about it back then!