Life Isn’t Ruff: A Day in the Life of a Camp Dog

Text by Sarah Kunkel, International intern 


Hi everyone, my name is Winky! I live at the Elephants & Bees Research Camp in Sagalla, Kenya. I am about 10 years old and live with two other dogs- Tsavo and Junior. Everyone calls me the “grandmother” of the group… whatever that means. I’m going to walk you through a day in my life at our wonderful camp!

At 7:00 am, our one intern Sarah FINALLY leaves her tent to come feed us. She takes extra time to make sure we have the most delicious meals- usually a mix of rice and meat with some milk and if we’re lucky- some leftover broth. Junior is very young and usually tries to steal my breakfast, but I never let her. Even if she did, I have the best begging face in the whole camp, so I usually have one victim fall to my cute looks at mealtimes. After breakfast, I make sure to go around and get some pats and scratches behind my ears from the team.

Winky ready for her evening walk, towards Sagalla Hill.

Once everyone is done with their breakfast (how do they eat so slow!?), the interns and some other team members go out to do beehive fence monitoring. Mwakoma is the village closest to camp, and we like to tag along to see those farms sometimes. Otherwise, I usually find a nice spot in the shade to cool off until everyone is back with their food at the table.

Tsavo and Winky during their evening walk.

When I hear the serving dishes open and close in the kitchen, I wake up from my nice nap to see what is on the menu. Maybe someone will give me a bite if I bat my eyelashes just right. I go around looking for dropped pieces of food before making my rounds at camp. I am really good at noticing when there is another uninvited dog in the area, or if there are any snakes or other animals lurking in the bush. Once everyone goes back to their work, I disappear to find a cool place to take – you guessed it- ANOTHER nap. Depending on the day, sometimes intern Sarah and team member Grace go up to the Women’s Enterprise Center. The last time I went, there were so many young girls that wanted to pet me. Being the introvert I am, I waited patiently for them to be done working and playing with the girls, and go back to camp.

Winky thinking of what path to take on.

My favorite time of the day is the evening. That is when we go on our evening walks! Tsavo is usually hiding somewhere so it takes a while for people to find him. Junior, on the other hand, is ALWAYS ready to go on walks. Always. Sarah likes to take us with whoever else wants to join. I might be 10, but the second I know we are leaving for a walk, I get so excited. The interns always follow the same path. They don’t like to walk through the random sticks, trees, and bushes that we do- boring! There is so much to smell and so little time. We walk up the road to the direction of Sagalla Hill, which always looms in our backyard. Goats, neighbours, and bicycles usually pass us on our evening outings.

An illustration by Sarah showing the path Winky takes on her walks.


I don’t like when our walks end, but when I come back home, it is the second-best time of the day. And that time, my friends, is dinner. Everyone sits around at the table with their delicious bowls while I watch from underneath the table. I love hearing everyone’s stories from the day and hearing them laugh. Sometimes they get too carried away with their lives and forget I am waiting for them to drop a piece of ugali (stiff porridge). I like to gently nudge people that have seem to forgotten about me. 
My life is pretty good here. Snacks, pets, walks, and more snacks. I mean, how can you say no to my face? 

The famous innocent face of Winky.


Photos by Sarah Kunkel

The views, opinions and position expressed in this article belong solely to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the policy and position of Save the Elephants


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