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While serving as a U.S. diplomat in Kinshasa in 2006, I met a scrawny, skittish, big-eared pup on who lived on the banks of the Congo River. She had a grey patch on her hip where, I found out, Congolese soldiers had tried to set her on fire. The local kids threw rocks at her, and the other street dogs beat her up. Worse still, she had just had a litter and was starving. After months of trying to tempt her to me with treats (she never got closer than a few feet away), I decided to trap her. I fashioned a lasso from a dog leash and when she got close enough, I tossed it over her head. She bucked and thrashed for about 30 seconds before going completely limp. I scooped her up and drove her home (after pulling her one remaining puppy from the sewer where she'd hidden him), depositing her on my porch. She spent the next week there, on a fluffy bed with bowls of food and water, while the vet treated her for fleas and tapeworm.
Her name is Labi, short for La biche (the deer - because of her giant ears) in French, the language of Congo. Labi took to being a pet like she'd been born to the life. She was housebroken in a week and stopped trying to eat the cat in only six months. Since she left the streets, she has lived in Montreal, Canada; Washington, D.C.; and now La Paz, Bolivia. This spring, my husband and I published her autobiography, A Street Dog's Story: The Almost 100% True Adventures of Labi, and started a blog with street dog news. Labi considers herself a street dog ambassador because no one can believe such a gentle, tame creature came from such a horrible background.
By the way, Labi's puppy, Bambi, was adopted by a missionary family in Kinshasa after he was weaned. Until we moved away in 2007, he and Labi had play dates every weekend.
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