My Encounter With Igor, A Friendly Boerboel

WINDHOEK, Namibia– Igor is an 80 Kg dog. He belongs to a friend of mine who works at the Namibia Geological Survey. Igor is a truly massive Boerboel, a South African mastiff dog breed traditionally used in Southern Africa to guard against predators.

Igor is huge and he can look frightening. His coat is brown and he has a really large head. Igor is especially trained to guard the house. Igor is usually quiet. He never barks. Because of my frequent visits, always walking along his master, Igor got used to me and he paid almost no attention to my comings and goings

But one day, as I came alone into the garden, Igor came trotting towards me. His behavior was not festive, and yet it was not threatening. He came close to me and he looked at me, raising his big head and big brown eyes. Feeling a bit hesitant, I extended my right arm and patted his head. I caressed him.

As we were getting a bit more acquainted, I looked into Igor’s eyes. And I thought I saw a warm, trusting gaze. The mastiff dog seemed to like my attention, my simple demonstration of affection. I was touched by his reaction.

All this is what it is. Igor is after all a dog. And yet his eyes had a human-like warm expression. The big animal, natural and  unafraid, looked at me. His eyes had the simple, open  expression of one who hides nothing. He was not diffident. He showed a spontaneous friendliness toward me, a stranger approaching him in peace.

In that moment, in that big animal I thought I saw what we all want to see when we meet someone new and would like to open up to them and them to us: just simple benevolence.

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