Chldren in Kenya have all kinds of animals for their pets. Let me tell you about one pupil and his pet. Adam, one of my pupils has a pet cheetah. The Hopcrafts named her Shalla. My story is not about her but their previous pet, a male cheetah called Dooms. Adam 's brother Xan knows more about the story. He told it in a book called "How it was with Dooms". Xan explained that the Kiswahili word for boy cheetah is duma and this was why the family called the cheetah Dooms.
Dooms arrived at the Hopcraft ranch one day when it was a young cub. A few months later Xan was born and he grew up with Dooms. The cheetah was quite big by the time Xan knew it better. They became friends and they would wonder around the ranch together. When Xan was a baby he got into a lot of mischief. The cheetah cub got into more mischief than did the boy.
Dooms slept for most of the day and everything was peaceful until cub woke up. He would play with a sheepskin slipper but once he got tired of this he would jump all over the house. What a racket Dooms made when he jumped onto the piano and walked over the keys. Just about the naughtiest thing was to jump onto the dining table and eat a whole cheese.
Xan laughed when he told about the only time his mum and dad gave Dooms a bath. The cub complained all the time. It struggled and tried to escape. It hissed and spat at dad. It tried to scratch him too. Dooms did not like having a bath. Dooms proved that water and cheetahs do not mix.
When Dooms grew bigger he liked to play outside. Xan described how the cheetah would walk slowly across the field and find a nice cool shady spot, often under a tree. Here Dooms would stay for most of the day just lazing around. He said that Dooms liked to climb onto the roof and the higher it was the better. It was the guest cottage roof he liked best.
Dooms did not have a lot of friends. Male cheetahs like to be alone. Dooms did have a few friends. There was Xan of course, the dogs and then Uni. This was an oryx. These creatures have two horns but Uni was a one horned oryx that looked like a unicorn.
Xan smiled when he remembered how good a football player Dooms was. The cheetah loved playing football. You would have thought he was one of Alex 's Ferguson Manchester United Babies the way Dooms could bat a football. He moved it along the grass better than a United player. Xan grinned as he recalled the fun he had playing football with Dooms. Xan had to admit that he could not run as fast as Dooms could, well nobody can, cheetahs are the fastest land animals.
I was wondering what was best about having Dooms as a pet. Xan must have sensed my question because he said it was that you could talk to Dooms about anything. He would sit and listen. You would know he was listening because he would stare at you peacefully with his yellow eyes. Sometimes we would go for long walks around the ranch. Dooms would walk slowly by Xan s side so he could keep up.
Xan and Dooms had lots of adventures together. After Dooms came Shalla and the things she got up to is another story.
You might want to read the book. It is called, How It Was With Dooms. It is published by Aladdin Paperbacks. This number should help your bookstore find the book- ISBN 0-689-81091-1. The book is full of the photographs Xan s mum took of her son with his pet cheeta. I'm just telling the fantastic story that my pupil told me one warm afternoon as we watched a flock of birds land on the sports field.
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