Here are some tips and tricks that might be helpful and some things you may want to think about before getting your own furry companion in Dar.
Owning a dog limits where you can live (and when you can leave)
If you may eventually move to an apartment or flat, owning a dog may prevent you from doing so. Even if you have a house with a garden, remember that when traveling, either for holiday or for home assignment, arrangements will need to be made for the care of your dog. Unlike many cities in the world, Dar does not abound with pet-care kennels. Also consider the length of your stay in Dar and what you plan on doing with your dog well in advance of when it comes time for you to leave Dar.
Many Tanzanians are terrified of dogs, especially large ones
This can be both a positive and a negative aspect of having a dog. Either way, it is certainly something you need to be aware of. When fundis (workers) or a house worker come to your home, be aware that they may not be comfortable with having a dog roaming the property. This also means that when walking your dog, the mere sight of it may cause people to scream and panic. Be polite: give people plenty of space when walking and keep your dog on a leash. In addition, because of the negative perceptions of dogs, and a lack of education/awareness be aware that if your gate/wall allows your dog to be visible to the street, children (and adults) may be taunting your dog by barking at it and even throwing rocks at it. The result is that dogs often become “racist” and even aggressive.
Dog food: the “real stuff” is hit or miss and pricey… but there are other options
If you plan on feeding your pet “real” dog food, such as Pedigree, know that it is not always available (though this is less and less of an issue) and is often quite expensive. Some stores are more expensive than others as well; in my experience, Game is often the cheapest for Adult Medium Breed Pedigree dog food (Village Supermarket and the various pet shops in Masaki tend to be the most expensive.) There are also local brands of dog food (Supadog and others) that are much cheaper and more plentiful, but tend to resemble sawdust in texture. Some other, more palatable (in sight and smell) options include purchasing meat scraps from the supermarket or a butcher shop and mixing them with ugali or rice. You can also just mix rice with the dog food to make it go further. Whatever your preferred food choice, I would recommend keeping at least a week’s supply in advance, in case it happens to be unavailable. Don’t stock up too much though as dry dog food, like most other things here, tends to collect bugs if left sitting for too long.
Frontline: its not the same here
Ticks are a HUGE problem in Dar and if you don’t check your dog regularly for ticks and use some kind of preventative measure, they will soon overrun your pet. There are a number of local formulas available, including Frontline. I have found that the Frontline available in Dar seems to be a different formula than the Frontline I brought with me from the United States, and does a much poorer job of repelling ticks. There is, however, a Frontline spray that works fairly well, along with some powders that can be used on the grass/dirt around your home to reduce the number of ticks in the area.
Finding a vet
Though there are a number of veterinarians in the Dar es Salaam area, Dr. Joe at PetCare in Masaki is by far the best. He has always done an excellent job with me and my dog, and is knowledgeable in both common veterinary practice as well as the special circumstances brought about by living in Dar’s tropical climate. Dr. Joe is also aware of the procedures for importing or exporting a pet from Tanzania, which is helpful when your time in Dar es Salaam comes to an end and you want to take your dog back to your home country.
Getting a dog
Dogs abound in Dar es Salaam and finding one to purchase is not difficult, unless you are set on a particular breed. Rhodesian Ridgebacks, German Shepherds, and various mixes of large “guard dogs” tend to be popular, while smaller breeds are often more difficult to find. Adverts on the “Team Tanzania” Facebook group and on the boards at local supermarkets (Shopper’s Plaza is a good place to check) are frequently posted with dogs for sale. Regardless of the type or breed of dog that you are interested in, before buying a puppy, you should first check out TAWESO, then Tanzania Animal Welfare Society. They often have both adult dogs and puppies available for adoption.