African Tale – My Friend Goosu

160626_MongooseRangeJune 26 – When growing up as a boy in Africa, we lived in a rented home in Clonsilla. It was here that I had my pet mongoose. The dogs found it in a burrow, just a few inches inside the entrance, squalling at them. Somehow I was able to reach in and grab it without getting bitten. It was just a youngster and I took it home in my pocket and in just a couple of days it was tame and one of the nicest pets I ever had.

Mongooses are diurnal, so it was always available to play with. At night it would sleep in my bed with me, usually on the back of my legs since I slept on my stomach. One night a mouse fell out of the ceiling at the head of my bed and dropped onto my pillow and was gone in a flash. I dragged Goosu out of bed and put him on the floor to go catch the mouse but he jumped right back on the bed. Apparently the mongoose family do not hunt mice at night!

160626_BabyMongooseOnly once did he almost bite me. I had given him a dead mouse for supper and he had dragged it off somewhere to it. It was my bedtime, so I pulled back the sheet and started to put my feet down in under it. Oops, out came a growling mongoose to bite my toes, for I was obviously coming in to take away his mouse. Had to change the sheets that night since he had spread mouse blood all over them.

Goosu like insects and reptiles to eat, besides various kinds of human food. I sometimes would give him a hard dog biscuit, which he would always try to break up by throwing it hard between his hind legs against some hard surface. The biscuits were too hard to be broken up like that, but they did have a habit of bouncing back and banging his butt, making him leap high in fright.

Everybody knows that mongooses attack snakes, so one day I laid a dead one over Goosu’s cage, with the ends hanging down on both sides, to see what he would do. Well, he thought he was cornered and began to run around his cage, not on the floor but horizontally around the walls like a motorcycle in the Globe of Death. He was really in a panic until I took it off. Once I left a chameleon on the top of his cage while I was doing something else, and when I came back, the poor chameleon had no hands or feet. Goosu had eaten them off as the chameleon climbed down on the wire netting.

160626_InkbottleMy room was a bit one, and the far end was Dad’s office, where he kept his school and government papers, desk, etc. Goose had a cage outside where he spent his days but sometimes got to explore indoors and liked to climb over Dad’s desk and investigate things of interest there. I failed to notice that Dad had a big bottle of ink on the desk, with a cork in it. This was back before the day of ballpoint pens.

One day Goosu discovered that the cork was removable, and yanked it out and felt within the bottle to see what was there. It was ink, nice blue ink, that he spread in little footprints all over some of Dad’s important papers. Dad was not pleased when he found these footprints later!

In the house Goosu was perfectly tame and approachable, but if he chanced to get loose outdoors it took a great deal of chasing to capture him again. Just like our monkeys, as long as they were confined they would not try to escape, but once freed they reveled in being free and would run and run to try and STAY free.

Goosu like our cat and dogs and would wrestle playfully with the cat until it managed to pin him down, then he would squirm free and shoot away in a flash that made the cat look clumsy. The dogs were suspicious of his motives when he would nuzzle for ticks in their fur, and would usually jerk away or growl, but they never tried to hurt him. I let Goosu go eventually and hope he enjoyed many days of freedom in the bush. He was well equipped to take care of himself and find his own food. – DALE

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