When I was growing up, one of the places I lived was Morocco. We lived in a huge villa outside of Rabat, the capital, in Tamara, a small town. After we moved, there several other American families decided to move there too. Occasionally, we had small social gatherings with the other Americans. Sometimes they came to our house like when Mac Aninnie dressed up like a clown and came on Easter and did a magic clown show at our house for all the kids or when my mother made homemade ice cream for everyone.
Sometimes our gatherings were at the Savaria’s house. The father of that family was so happy to be in Morocco because he could own things in Morocco he couldn’t afford in America. They also lived in a big villa with a huge yard with a swimming pool in the back yard where I swam with the kids of the Savaria family sometimes. They put a big sign over the front gate that said “El Rancho Savaria.” Mr. Savaria was so happy that he never wanted to go home, back to America, but spend his life in Morocco. We had a cookout in the Savaria’s yard and everyone ate hot dogs. There were two kids in that family who were close to my age: Marie and Bobby. They had several younger kids, but I don’t remember how many because I basically ignored the little kids. Marie asked me to spend the night with her sometimes, and we had a lot of fun playing together.
The Savaria family gave a Halloween party once, and Bobby and I were dressed up, he as a Devil, and me as a gypsy. We left the party and walked down the street to another friend’s house because we were trying to figure out why she didn’t come. On the way there, the Arabs were so superstitious that seeing our costumes got scared and walked to the other side of the street with really big eyes cautiously staring at us the whole time. We got a big kick out their reactions and also got in trouble for leaving the party without telling anyone.
The Savaria family had a dog. I was scared of their dog. The dog was always tied by a rope to the back of the house. To enter the Savaria house, you had to walk along the side on a sidewalk, then through a doorway in a wall where the wall connected the house to some out buildings, and then go to the left at the back of the house to get to the door they used to enter all the time in the back. The dog was tied on the other side of that door in the back yard. If you stayed close enough to the wall, there was very little space, but the dog couldn’t touch you. I was scared of the dog, so I stayed as close to that wall as I could. The dog would bark and bark, get all excited, and stretch his rope, but he couldn’t reach me as I inched along with my back against the wall. I slowly got beyond the dog, then I could get into the house. It was Bobby’s job to take care of the dog. He fed and watered the dog everyday.
One evening, a donkey came into the Savaria’s back yard. It seemed wild, and no one went out of the house. It bit the dog and then went on. A bit later, Bobby went out to feed his dog, and a dog that usually loved him jumped up and bit him all over the face His dad was so upset that he took a gun and went out and killed the dog. He cut the dog’s head off and sent it to a lab to have it tested to make sure there was nothing wrong with the dog that caused it to bite Bobby so badly. Bobby had giant gashes all over his face full of stitches.
When the results came back from the lab where Mr. Savaria had sent the dog’s head, they said the dog had had rabbis. The donkey that had bit the dog had rabbis. The American medic gave Bobby shots in every gash in his face. He also gave him fourteen shots in the stomach. After that, the medic came to our house. He insisted that everyone in the house needed fourteen shots in our stomachs. He said anyone who spent time at the Savaria’s house needed those shots. I couldn’t imagine shots in my stomach! I told him that I had never touched the dog which was not a lie because I had been scared of the dog. My older sister told him the same thing. The medic asked us to be completely sure that we had never touched the dog, and after asking us again, he finally believed us, and my sister and I had a reprieve. We didn’t have to take the 14 shots in our stomachs. However, my mother underscored that my brothers must take the shots. My brother just younger than I am was always playing with every animal he saw and still does, so everyone was sure he petted the dog. At a barbecue we went to at the Savaira’s house, the dog had taken my youngest brother’s hot dog away, and my mother took the hot dog away from the dog, wiped it off, and gave it back to my brother. There was no doubt both of my brothers had to have the 14 rabbis shots in their stomachs. The medic gave both my parents 14 shots in their stomachs too. Ever so often, he visited our house, and they all got their shots. I was so grateful that I was scared of dogs!
Not long after that, we heard that Bobby had begun growling and barking like a dog. We were warned that if any of us began being scared of water or growling or barking that we needed to come back to see the medic right away. Bobby was scared of water. Bobby had had no chance. Even after all the shots in all the gashes in his face and the fourteen shots in his stomach, he still got rabbis because the bites were too close to his brain, so the disease had traveled too quickly. His dad’s wonderful love of Morocco and El Rancho Savaria had to come to an end. They went back to the States taking Bobby hoping they could get him better treatment.
When we went back to the States, my parents figured out where the Savaria family was and we went to visit them. Bobby was in the hospital, and none of us could go in and see him. They had him tied down to his bed so he couldn’t bite anyone. No one got close to him. His mother said that if she went into the room, Bobby would ask her not to walk in the room or make any any movement because even the softest sound or slightest movement caused him excruciating pain. There was no hope for Bobby. He passed away.
People wonder why I believe in cleanliness so much. They wonder why I have a tendency to be scared of dogs. Yes, my great grandmother passed a saying down, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” However, I am sure it goes much further than that. I was so relieved not to have to take those rabbis shots! I was astounded and very sad by what happened to Bobby. I have cleaned so much that I have rubbed the finger prints off my fingers. It took a long time before I could learn to pet a dog no matter how cute puppies are. One of the reasons I learned to love Japan so much was because the Japanese people are some of the cleanest people in the world.