Friday, January 29, 2010

Jock of the Bushveld

This is the story of a real live famous dog who lived a long time ago in South Africa.  He was so brave and loyal that his owner wrote a book about him, and also there was a movie made about him.  So in that way, Jock was kind of like Greyfriars Bobby.

But anyway, here's the story of Jock.  He was born in a part of South Africa that is now called Kruger National Park.  Here's a map so that you can see where it is, just in case your South African geography is not too good.  Kruger National Park is way over on the right-hand side of the country, next door to Mozambique.  Except it wasn't a national park back when Jock was a puppy.

I wish I could tell you that Jock was a basenji, but if I told you that, it would be a lie.  What Jock was was a Staffordshire bull-terrier, which is what some people would call a pit bull.  He was the runt of his litter, and his breeders were going to drown him in a bucket of water because they didn't think a runt puppy would ever amount to anything.  But this man named Sir Percy Fitzpatrick saved Jock and adopted him as his very own dog.  Jock was very grateful for this, and he grew up to be faithful and obedient to his dad.  He was also a good fighter, a good hunter, and a good companion.

At that time, which was in the 1880s, some people in South Africa were very busy looking for gold because they knew it would make them rich if they found it. These miners were so busy that they did not have time to go get food and stuff, so Sir Percy and Jock took supplies to them in wagons that were pulled by oxen.  This was very hard work, and Sir Percy and Jock had many adventures while they were doing it.  Like for example, one time Jock got into a fight with a baboon, and Jock won the fight.

Another time Jock got kicked in the head by a kudu cow, and after that, he couldn't hear anything anymore.  I wasn't sure what a kudu cow looked like, so I found a picture of one and here it is.  The bulls have horn things, but the cows don't.

Jock and Sir Percy did this work for five years, and then all their oxen got infected by tsetse flies and died.  So Sir Percy had to find different work.  And after that, he got married and moved to Johannesburg.  He did not take Jock with him, maybe because he thought that Jock would not be happy living in the city.  Instead, he gave Jock to a trader who lived in Mozambique.

One night, a stray dog was raiding the trader's chickens, so Jock went out and killed the dog.  But it was dark out, and the trader thought Jock was the stray dog, and he shot him by mistake.  And this is how Jock died, which is a very sad part of Jock's story.

Sir Percy used to tell his children bedtime stories about all his adventures with Jock, and his friend, Rudyard Kipling, told Sir Percy that he should write them down in a book.  Mr. Kipling was a famous writer, so Sir Percy took his advice and wrote a book about Jock.  Then later on, a movie got made about Jock, too.

Mom thought it would be fun to read this book, so she went to and ordered a copy for us.  They had a very special collector's copy of the book there that cost $299.99, but Mom just bought us a used copy for $3.99.

If you go to Kruger National Park in South Africa now, you can stay at the Jock Safari Lodge, which was named for Jock of the Bushveld.  Here's a picture of this lodge, and if you want to see lots more pictures plus maybe plan a safari of your own to go there, you can look at this website:

I told Mom that we should all go on a trip to the Jock Safari Lodge, but she said we couldn't go there because it was expensive.  This is what she always says when I want to go on a trip someplace.  Oh well, I don't think there are very many basenjis in South Africa anyway, so it probably wouldn't be very interesting to go there.

But before I forget, I want to thank my basenji girlfriend, Zest, Superstar in Training, for suggesting that I write about Jock because otherwise I might never have heard of this famous and interesting African dog!


  1. yea for Jock!!!

    -Zest, superstar in training

  2. Thanks for writing this story about Jock. I had never heard it before.
    Aunt Lynn

  3. Dear Aunt Lynn,
    I am glad you liked the story of Jock. I had never heard it before either, but in South Africa it is a very popular story for children to read. The nice people at have already shipped our book that Mom ordered, so maybe after we get it and find time to read it, you can read it, too.