The Emperor’s favourite dog
Mammo Haile had worked as Emperor Haile Selassie’s valet for thirty years. He still works at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, where he takes care of his former master’s private quarters in the museum.
Philip Marsden, an English travel writer, who authored the book, ‘The Chains of Heaven, An Ethiopian Romance’ (HarperCollins publishers, 2005) met him there. Marsden described Mammo as a person who had ‘chaotic teeth, a hangdog expression, and an undimmed devotion to his master.’
Mammo told the writer his stories, including about His Majesty’s favourite dog, Lulu.
Marsden said he had seen a picture of Lulu sitting in the emperor’s lap while he stroked her with his small, feminine hands .He said she is a tiny, frog-eyed Chihuahua.
Here goes Mammo account. ‘If there was a reception Lulu would go around among the legs of the officials. If one one of them was holding a bad feeling about His Majesty, Lulu would touch the man’s foot and that was how His Majesty knew. One minister was very popular but Lulu touched his foot and after that no one trusted that man again. Lulu was a very brilliant dog.’
‘What happened to her?’
‘Paul killed her.’
‘Big palace dog. Like a big fighter, like a wrestling man. He took Lulu by the neck and shook her and shook her. She was only a tiny dog-and finito! Lulu finito.Such a tiny little dog.’ He looked down, toeing the ground with his shoes. I thought he would cry.
‘It was only after a year or two after that when they took His Majesty away.’