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The only pets I ever lived with were cats and dogs. As children my brother and I had a couple of miniature turtles, they were too small and too slow to hold our attention or interest for long. We never really liked having birds or fish as too restricted in a cage or aquarium. We prefer pets that run around in the house.
As young children we had a Pomeranian dog, what is colloquially called “Loulou”, a white long haired very small dog that had the temperament of a dragon. His name was Prince. Size and temperament often clashed and he managed to get himself, and my parents, in a lot of trouble. He was always finding ways and means of getting out and roaming to his heart’s content. He was very innovative in his escape methods, quite a Houdini.
When my brother and I were very young, we used to spend two of the three months’ summer vacation in Ras el Bar, a very basic sea resort, very laid back and safe environment, where children could roam free from sunup to sundown. The moment we hit the sandy ground of Ras el Bar and until we were dragged back to Cairo, my brother and I were like little urchins, barefooted and mostly in swimsuits, turning into dark brown little bodies streaking about, as the days passed in carefree cavorting on the beach, and running around playing hide and seek with the rest of the children, who were mostly regulars like us.
Life in Ras el Bar was very lazy and relaxed. All day nothing to do but lay around reading or going to the beach if you like. In the evenings the focal point was the ‘Nile’ road. Ras el bar is unique in having a very clearly defined line where the Nile meets the sea, and where you can see the brown water of the Nile in a very defined line right next to the blue water of the sea. Night life on the Nile street consisted of open air cafés where very simple meals were served. It catered to a family ambience and was very safe.
The police force consisted of camel riding large dark men with whips, who patrolled the beach and the Nile street. One day my parents went for a walk at sunset on the beach and Prince managed to get away and went running looking for them. He had the bad habit of greeting them by attacking the nearest moving thing as a celebration of the reunion. That evening, my parents were relaxed, taking a romantic walk together, without dog or children, when to their horror they saw a small white streak heading straight at them. Recognizing Prince they braced for the inevitable outcome of this unplanned meeting. What they did not envision was the extent of this minute dog’s illusions of grandure. After making sure that my parents had seen him, he stopped in his tracks and looked around for anything to attack as tribute to my parents. To my parent’s horror, his attention was caught by the policeman on his camel patrolling the beach. In the blink of an eye he was streaking towards the camel, which was so high he could not see him at all. He quickly wove between the legs of the camel, nipping at them, and the camel was going crazy, started dancing around trying to avoid the little nips, while the policeman perched up there could not see anything that was happening on the ground and was trying to control his mount, which he must have thought was going out of its mind. My parents totally ignored Prince, though keeping their fingers crossed that he does not get trampled by the stamping camel. The whole incident took just a few minutes, before Prince was done with the game, and my parents had put enough distance between them and the policeman and his agitated camel, before Prince trotted over, claiming my parents as his owners. From that day on, whenever my parents went for a walk, they took him along on a leash.
Prince lived to the ripe old age of 9, and the day he died was declared a national day of mourning within our household. My brother and I felt like we lost our younger brother. It took us some time to accept the idea of getting another dog.