THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
A Foreign Service
Anthony C.E. Quainton, a retired Senior Foreign
Service officer, is currently Distinguished Diplomat-in-
Residence at American University. He served as am-
bassador to the Central African Republic, Nicaragua,
Kuwait and Peru, and as assistant secretary of State
for diplomatic security, among many other assignments.
oreign Service life brings us into contact
with all sorts of people—rich and poor,
powerful and powerless, amusing and
dull—who must be sought out, enter-
tained and endured. Fortunately, it is also
filled with pets and other animals, both
ours and other people’s, whose presence
reflects important dimensions of the For-
eign Service experience.
So it was with my family, which had a total of three pets dur-
ing my diplomatic career: a turtle named Peter, a rabbit named
Updike and a Lhasa Apso named Sengtru.
We carried Peter across the Pacific in a plastic bowl, com-
plete with a plastic palm tree. He survived a typhoon and was
carried through customs at various ports of entry en route to
New Delhi, to the amusement and consternation of numerous
There Peter lived the usual solitary life of his species until he
was left alone in the care of our bearer and cook, while we trav-
eled by train around Rajasthan. Sadly, unlike small American
boys, Indians do not love turtles, and Peter’s life was soon cut
short by inattention.
Rabbit, Rest in Peace
Updike the rabbit also met an untimely demise, in Nepal,
where I was deputy chief of mission (DCM). A beautiful white
animal, he was the only pet of Elizabeth, our younger daughter,
who was then 8. Updike lived in a hutch behind our residence in
Animals can play an important part in a diplomatic career, for better or for worse.
BY ANTHONY C . E . QUA I NTON
Kathmandu, where he was attended faithfully both by Elizabeth
and by the residence servants.
The few Western cultural activities in Nepal included a small
amateur theater company, the HAMS (which stood for “Hima-
layan amateurs”). One of our many productions was Arthur
, in the second act of which John and Eliza-
beth Proctor have rather insipid rabbit stew for dinner. When it
came time to host the cast party I, as co-director of the produc-
tion, opened up my home and proposed that, in the spirit of the
play, we serve rabbit stew.
Our cook, who belonged to the butcher caste, dutifully went
off to the market and bought the necessary ingredients. Most
of the cast enjoyed the meal, although some of the American
guests objected to the very idea of eating rabbit.
The next day Elizabeth went out to feed Updike, only to find
another less attractive bunny in the hutch. It appeared that we
had eaten our daughter’s pet! How could this have happened
when everyone knew of her affection for Updike? The answer
only became clear a week later when, instead of one white rab-
bit, there were now seven: a mother and six thumb-sized babies.
It turned out that our cook had decided to spare the life of a
pregnant rabbit by sacrificing Updike.
Despite that trauma, rabbits remained an important part
of our daughter’s life. At Princeton she acquired another one,
which she named in honor of Colonel Coniglio, our military
attaché in Managua. The Colonel, as we affectionately called
him, lived (illegally) in her dorm rooms, and accompanied her
home to Washington, D.C., for the holidays.
A rabbit straight from the pages of
Alice in Wonderland
supplied live decoration on our back lawn, to the great admira-
tion of family and guests. Happily for the Colonel, his only mis-
hap was a brief escape into the neighborhood, before a young
neighbor found him a block away and returned him. He lived
out most of his life in Elizabeth’s dorm room.