you probably wouldn't believe how many times we've
been asked "so, what's a basenji?" or (especially now that
we have a half basenji/half hokkaido inu) "what kind of dog is that?"
according to the american kennel club ...
|The Basenji is a
small, short haired hunting dog from Africa. It is short
backed and lightly built, appearing high on the leg
compared to its length. The wrinkled head is proudly
carried on a well arched neck and the tail is set high
and curled. Elegant and graceful, the whole demeanor is
one of poise and inquiring alertness. The balanced
structure and the smooth musculature enables it to move
with ease and agility. The Basenji hunts by both sight
and scent. The Basenji should not bark but is not mute.
The wrinkled forehead, tightly curled tail and swift,
effortless gait (resembling a racehorse trotting full
out) are typical of the breed.
|The Hokkaido Inu
or Ainu dog is
considered by some to be the oldest and the
"wildest" of the Japanese breeds. It is said to have
originated from medium-sized Japanese dogs. These
Ainu dogs were trained to catch salmon during the
heavy spring salmon runs. The only land animal that
was hunted was the bear where the the Ainu dog, with
his fearless and sharp character also proved very
helpful and was appreciated for its accurate
judgment and great stamina. Although the Ainu dog is
strongly related to the history of the Ainu people,
these dogs have almost always been called
Hokkaido-Ken by the Japanese. In 1937 Hokkaido-inu
was declared the official name of the breed. The
physique of the Hokkaido enables it to withstand
severe cold and heavy snowfalls. It is a wild and
powerful dog by nature. It is always alert and
suspicious by nature, making him an excellent watch
dog. In addition to being a fearless hunter, it is
extremely loyal and devoted to its owner. To show
its owner that he is happy to see him, the Hokkaido
inu howls like a wolf. He is impulsive and fast and
has a light gait. Coat colors are usually red or
white, but black, sesame, brindle and fawn are also
acceptable. Most dogs have black spots on their
tongue, suggesting an ancestral genetic link with
the Chinese Chow Chow and the Sharpei.
interesting -- and yet it doesn't really tell you much of
anything! so, here's the important stuff, the stuff you
really want to know but won't find in one of those little breed
books you can buy at the pet store.
Willy is the official family mascot. A neutered
male Basenji, Willy was born February 15, 1997. Willy is an amazing animal and
we all love him very much. You will not meet a more friendly, patient, and
good natured dog than Willy. We got Willy in early 2002, right after his
fifth birthday. His previous owner had decided she no longer wanted him
and so she took him to the vet to have him put to sleep. The vet convinced
her to let him send Willy to a gentleman who rescues basenjis, Charlie, who
works with Darin at Lexis-Nexis. We adopted Willy from Charlie.
On September 29, 2003, our family increased by one -- we brought home Jake, a
year old neutered male basenji who was born on December 11, 1992. Jake was
raised by a family who couldn't keep him when they moved, so they gave him to
our friend Charlie to find him a new home. We were a little daunted at the
prospect of a 10 year old dog, but he was still nice and active and he had a
great spirit. He quickly captured our hearts.
We lost Jake on January 30, 2006.
He had gone into kidney and liver failure and was in great distress. There was nothing left when you looked into his eyes,
the spirit and fire that made him Jake was gone, he was glassy eyed and
apparently unseeing. Darin took him to the vet and held him while they put him to sleep. We
had him cremated. More on this -- and the newcomer to the family -- below.
On February 2, 2006, the void left by Jake's
passing was filled with Vixen (aka Vixie). Vixie is an adorable little
girl, half basenji and half hokkaido inu. She's got the short, nearly
hypoallergenic coat of the basenji with the facial structure of a hokkaido.
Her body is pure basenji in appearance although she's taller than
Willy and her legs are more muscled and slightly thicker. She's able to bark (but does so only when playing
or on very rare instances when the doorbell rings and she doesn't know the
caller) *and* she can
yodel along with Willy. She's definitely food motivated, and insists upon
sleeping with her humans in the bed -- but usually NOT under the covers like Willy does.
She's smart as a whip and extremely strong. She's very energetic and
there's not an ounce of fat on her. She looks like she weighs about 25
pounds maximum, but she actually weighs 39 pounds -- she's sleek and solid
muscle. She's an exceptionally attractive dog and I've never met a more
affectionate dog in my life. She's gotten the best of the basenji and the
best of the hokkaido. She's got the basenji shredding thing down pat, and
she's also got the hokkaido "mine!" down pat too. She picks on Willy to no
end, and he mostly tolerates her antics. Every once in a while he'll
seriously grumble at her and sound like he means it, and then she'll stop and
give him an exceptionally hurt look, as if he's crushed her. He caves,
every time -- and she knows he will. She can be very bossy and will steal
food right out of his mouth -- and he usually lets her!
She wags her tail like Jake did -- sometimes
it's as if the tail is wagging the dog! She plays with toys, and even has
Willy playing with some of them! (He still won't stoop to playing fetch,
though.) She's definitely prone to a bit of separation anxiety
(Willy is too -- and Jake was, as well.) If left on her own too long, she
becomes a bit destructive and we've come home to find the trash strewn from one
end of the house to the other. She loves to steal our shoes and then tease
us with them. She loves to be chased and she loves to cuddle. She
knows the doggy in the mirror is her and she's not the slightest bit interested
in it, but shine a laser light on the floor and the crazy girl will
chase after it until she wears herself out.
Some breed characteristics they share ... basenjis hate
water. (This means when it's raining outside, they're going to look at you as if
you're nuts and then prance off.) They're like cats, they groom themselves. They
have no doggy smell, and they almost never "pant" or walk around with their
tongues hanging out (Vixie pants a bit more than Willy but still far less than
the average dog). They also almost never drool. And they're very
nearly hypoallergenic. Both of my brothers are insanely allergic to dogs
and both of them can be around our doggies without much (if any) problem.
Vixie is only slightly more likely to make them pop a benadryl.
Basenjis don't bark -- although that doesn't mean
they're silent, believe me! Vixie can bark, but usually only does so while
playing. They both love to shred tissues, paper towels,
paper napkins, toilet paper, etc. They shred it into neat little piles,
and you must warn dinner guests not to leave a napkin on their lap or a basenji
will come by and swipe it! Shredding is one of their top favorite
activities. Others include: sleeping, eating, and going for a ride in the
car. They're very playful, and mischievous. Jake used to do what we
called the SPED boy routine -- he'd start jumping in a circle, leaping at his
shadow or chasing his tail or just spazzing out, and he'd spring around like a
bunny! It was hilarious. About the last six or eight months of his
life, he was starting to lose his sight and
he'd become a bit skittish. He'd bump into the edge of something and
simultaneously jump out of his skin and give a yelp of surprise that cracked
people up to see. Willy will sometimes do the SPED boy routine, but not
even a third as much as Jake did. Vixie has her own routine which is
They both love to wipe their faces on the
carpet, and watching them groom themselves is really cool -- it very much
resembles the way a cat does it. Willy will sometimes groom Vixie and she's
been known to return the favor from time to time. When eating treats, they've
demonstrated that opposable thumbs are not a requirement. They're quite
adept at holding things erect between their paws while they eat them down.
Vixie waves "hello" at us, and she's very cognizant of her paws and the things
she can do with them. Basenjis are very aware of their paws to begin with,
but this little gal is well beyond that! She tries to use her paws the way
she sees us using our hands -- so she'll come up to you and reach up with a paw
to touch your face. If she's excited, she forgets that she's got those
sharp little claws and can scratch a bit, but she doesn't mean to. If you
make a kissing sound at her, she will give you kisses -- and if you don't let
her lick your lips, she'll keep trying till she gets them!
Willy is the number one son -- and he was
insanely jealous of Jake. He's sometimes jealous of Vixie, but not nearly as much.
When Jake was alive, Willy would edge Jake out of the way without hesitation, and if he couldn't
get him to move, or if Jake grumbled at him, he'd back off, but then sit down and sulk. His ears
droop and he'd stare sullenly at you -- and if you didn't respond quickly enough,
he'd turn away entirely and outright pout! Sometimes Jake was the one
being jealous, and his response depended on his position at the moment in
question. If he had the human to himself, he'd growl at Willy to warn
him off. And Willy's such a wimp, he'd cave. Usually. There
were a half dozen or so instances where they got into an actual tussle,
and each of those times culminated with Willy the victor and Jake doing the
submissive thing. And then Jake had to be the one to make up, too, because
Willy would be aloof toward him! If Jake didn't have the human, however,
and he wanted them, he didn't growl, he whined. He had the most pathetic
whine and whimper and he'd use them shamelessly to beg for whatever he wanted --
be it a human, a ride in the car, or a tasty morsel! Vixie
knows she can get what she wants by being cute and being good. So, she
plops her little butt down and sits very nicely and then turns the doggy eyes
onto you and makes little mewling sounds. Works every time!
They're very curious, and guests are promptly
and thoroughly sniffed and investigated. Guests bearing food are their
best friends. And like good little Pavlovian Specimens, they'll remember
your past offerings and immediately come to see what you've brought them this
time. They're so used to my brother (aka Tao Libra) bringing them goodies
that when he doesn't have anything, they refuse to believe him and continue to
wait for him to 'fess up! Even people who are nervous around dogs will
find themselves relaxing in short order because it's just so obvious that they mean them no harm whatsoever -- unless someone is being aggressive towards
one of us (especially Missy). When Josh was a couple months old, Anna and
the boys came for a visit. Willy sniffed the baby, and then began grooming
him. He especially liked licking Josh's nearly hairless head, over and
over (and over) again. Josh loved every minute of it. Our bald friends
have learned not to sit on the floor unless they don't mind a basenji licking
their scalp! Willy and Vixie both adore Caleb (although Vixie has eaten
part of a onesie that Caleb spit up on) and they both like to groom him.
Caleb's first laugh was due to Willy licking his fingers!
They love to cuddle and they love to be
close to their humans. Willy won't, however, play with most dog toys.
If you toss a ball and say "fetch," he'll look at you as if to say "yeah,
right. If you wanted it, why did you throw it? Go get it yourself."
Vixie loves to play with toys. She's very smart, as I mentioned, and has
not chewed up anything that isn't hers. She will cart Missy's stuffed toys
around in her mouth, but won't damage them unless she's given the okay to play
tug of war with them. When that happens, Willy usually joins in and we
eventually wind up with a decapitated toy!
When we used to take Willy and Jake to the animal park, they'd
watch the other dogs with obvious confusion and when one of them ran up and
dropped a ball for one of our boys to join in, they'd sniff the ball and then
sit there. Willy's shudder of distaste is obvious, Jake's was accompanied
by a low throated growl that sounded really impressive. Jake's growl was
usually ignored by the younger dogs, much to his chagrin. He was all
bluster, and the young ones (and Jack Russell Terriers) seemed to know it.
Willy will happily chase the other dogs and even tussle with them a bit.
Every dog that approached Jake got the growl. (He was the quintessential grumpy
old man!) Vixie goes nuts at the dog park, she wants to see and do
everything all at once. She can run a ring around the inside perimeter of the
fence and you'd swear she's going to leave a trench she's moving so fast.
If the dog park is too crowded, we come back another time, because Vixie gets
too excited about crowds of people.
Willy and Jake used to love to do what
Missy calls the basenji 500 around the middle level of our home. Vixie and
Willy love to do it even more. Vixie loves it so much, she'll even do it
when Willy isn't interested. She'll do it downstairs too, even though
she's got to dodge a lot more furniture and stuff than she does on the middle
level. On the middle level, they can
make a (virtually unrestricted) circuitous loop from the foyer thru to the
living room, dining room, kitchen and family room and back to the foyer.
(Lather, rinse, repeat. Repeatedly.) If they get going too fast,
they lose their footing on the hardwood floors and then it becomes really
When we first got Vixie, we were told she was half basenji, half shiba
inu. As it turns out, she is not. She is half basenji and
half hokkaido inu. I have changed the passages at the top to reflect the
characteristics and breed information accordingly. And, on January
13, 2007 (although we wouldn't know it till January 19th) we became a
four doggy family. You can read about our two newest girls, both
tricolor basenjis, below or on
Let this be a warning to you. If you get a basenji
or a basenji/hokkaido inu, you WILL take too many
pictures. You WILL share those pictures with everyone you can, because you WILL
be convinced your doggy walks on water. You WILL make your doggy sing for
everyone who comes in your home. You will even sometimes call friends or
relatives to make them listen over the phone. You WILL be insanely proud of them
and you WILL become an "expert" on the breed so that you can encourage everyone
you meet to become a Basenji or Hokkaido Inu owner. It's like a cult thing ... sort
of like owning a Saturn. We're just over-achievers: we have three basenjis, one basenji/hokkaido inu, and two
May of 2006 we began taking in foster basenjis for BRAT. Our first was
Lucky. Imagine the coloration of a rottweiler and put it on the face of a
basenji. That's what Lucky looked like!
Lucky ws very small for a basenji, and yet very barrel chested.
We called her our little Panzer Tank. That, and Psycho Pooch, the latter was a
nicknamed bestowed on her by friends who became unnerved about the way she would
sit and stare at you.
Lucky had issues with other dogs, she had issues with
socialization, she had food aggression to the tenth degree, she woke up badly,
she had trust issues, she was messed up even for a basenji! She and Willy
did *NOT* get along. They had more knock-down drag-out fights in the three
months she was here than Willy has had with all other doggies put together.
By the time she moved on to her forever home in July, they had come to an uneasy
ceasefire agreement. You couldn't call it a truce, but the fur had stopped
flying at least. We had to teach her how to play, we had to
teach her it was okay to go nuts and baroo and yodel -- she just hated the idea
of making noise or causing any kind of a commotion. She and Vixie
got along just fine, interestingly and by the time she left us for her forever
home, she and Vixie would tussle and wrestle and chase one another for hours on
end. They'd have basenji 500's that made you tired just to watch
sometimes! Unfortunately for her, Lucky had stubby little legs (for a
basenji, anyhow!) and she was low to the ground. Often times we'd hear the
frantic click-click-click of her nails scrambling trying to get hold of the
floor before she careened across the room as a canine hockey puck.
Not to be gross or anything, but Lucky also had the most
amazing bladder-capacity of any dog I've ever seen. She would NOT go in
the house. She would hold it, for hours and hours and hours ... if it was
raining, she would hold it all day if she had to in order to avoid having to go
outside and get wet. She'd hold it so long she'd leave a gulley in the
lawn when she finally went out.
We decided that Lucky would probably do best in a home with no
other dogs and definitely no cats (she REALLY hated cats). She enjoyed
playing with other dogs, but she got tired of them and wanted them to go away
after a while. As luck (no pun intended!) would have it, the BRAT
coordinator found a home for her with a 26-year old newly divorced school
teacher named Melissa, with no pets. Lucky will be very happy as the only
doggie because she definitely wants to be the alpha doggie. With no other dog to
compete for attention, she'll be happier and with no competition for treats and
tidbits, she'll have no reason to be so aggressive about food. Update:
Lucky loves having her human to herself, and her new human even has a Mommy with
a couple of furfaced playmates (that Lucky can send home!) -- she shares her
human's bed and the fact that her human is gone each weekday to work is no big
deal for the pooch with the 16-hour bladder capacity!
days after Lucky moved to her forever home, we went and picked up Abby.
She was named "Star" when we got her, but that was a name given her by the
people who bailed her out of the shelter for BRAT. She'd only had it a couple weeks
and she wasn't attached to it. Missy and I hated it and changed it on the ride
home when we decided she looked like an Abby! The people who had bailed
her out of the pound said they named her "Star" because she had a large white
spot on the back of her neck that looked like a star. Sorry, no, it
didn't. It looked like a splotch, there was nothing star-like about it!
Abby was just the cutest little basenji girl you'll ever
meet. When we brought her home she weighed only 14 pounds, she was a trindle
(black, white and brindle), about 11 months old, and extremely playful. She had
been found wandering the streets in early July and after no one claimed her, she
was taken to a kill-shelter. After a week there and another two weeks at an interim
home, she came to live with us as our foster doggie.
We had our work cut out for us! Having lived on the streets,
she'd picked up some very bad habits. Like squatting wherever she happened to be
standing whenever she had to go. We thought we were never going to get her
housebroken! Finally, one day it was like a light switch had been flipped
-- after literally months of accidents, she suddenly "got it."
By the time we wrote up an info page on her for BRAT to circulate to potential
adopters, she'd made remarkable progress all the way around. She was no longer a
little street urchin, this was a family pet and loyal companion. We came
very close to keeping her and there have been many times since we sent her on to
her forever home (on December 7th, the day after my Mom passed away) that we've
really regretted letting her go. She used to lay around on top of Vixie,
they were best friends. Even Willy liked her!
Here's part of the write up I did for her:
She's very small in stature, and walks like a little
princess on a leash, very regal and jaunty without the slightest bit of
pulling. She is extremely social, and absolutely adores humans and
dogs alike. She has no use whatsoever for cats and would not do well in
a home with one. She has no desire to be the alpha doggie, she simply
wants someone to rough-house with and some people to play with her. She
even loves babies -- she has a 9-month old baby in her foster home and
has never shown any aggression toward him at all. She will not even take
his toys unless they're specifically offered to her and she permits him
to grab her by both ears and haul her forward so he can chew on her
muzzle. She also currently resides with a cantankerous 9-year old couch
potato basenji boy and an extremely playful 10-month old basenji/hokkaido
inu girl who is more than three times her size, and she loves every
minute of being with them. She's a bit of an instigator, and she's an
expert at the sneak attack from the back. Run-by nipping is her
specialty! This little girl will do best in a home with at least one
other very active dog who can stand up to her rough-housing.
She's very vocal, and talks back frequently. Abby baroos often, she can
bark (single barks) in addition to the usual complement of basenji
noises (including one that sounds like a squeaky toy when she's
playing!) and of course is curious enough for ten cats. She roots
through uncovered trash, she sticks her face in purses and diaper bags,
she steals toilet tissue, shreds, counter-surfs, begs and loves being in
the middle of a good basenji-500. This girl can JUMP. She's been
observed leaping from the floor (without a running start!) to the top of
a desk in front of her to get at a slice of pizza left on top of the
monitor. Unlike the average basenji, she has absolutely no fear of
water, so a spray bottle is not an effective training tool with her --
even filled with white vinegar, it doesn't phase her, she doesn't mind
being wet at all unless you hit her right in the face with a steady
stream. (And even that is sometimes ignored if she feels the reward
outweighs the inconvenience of a face full of vinegar!)
She does suffer from separation anxiety, and needs to be crated when
left without supervision for long periods or she becomes destructive
(and anything left in the cage with her will be destroyed). When
supervised or left for short periods of up to a couple hours, she's a
well-behaved, affectionate and playful little gal without a mean bone in
her body. She shows no food aggression (although she DOES make a game
out of snatching treats from her foster siblings -- or trying!) and
loves snuggling with anyone handy, human or beast. Her favorite
sleeping spot is on top of her mixed breed foster-sister, second
favorite is on top of the covers in bed with a human. She's equally
happy sleeping with the 12 year old daughter of the house as she is
sleeping with the adults.
Abby is an exceptionally sweet little girl and will be an ideal
companion for someone with the patience to work with her on refining her
manners. She is fiercely loyal and her heart is surely ten times the
size of her petite stature!
The family who adopted Abby already had a basenji -- they had
two of them, but one had died (old age), and they wanted to get a
playmate/companion for the young boy basenji they still had. They wanted a
playful basenji who could stand up to some roughhousing and could handle their
adolescent boy. They got it, in spades, with Abby! We're still
waiting for the phone call saying she's just put their pup into cardiac arrest
by overstressing him! Update! May 23, 2007
-- we heard from the family who adopted Abby today! She's VERY happy in
her forever home and they're thrilled with her. She hasn't put their boy
into cardiac arrest, they've just become best buddies! I'm hoping to get a
picture we can post of her and her new brother together. Abby's new humans
are wonderful people and we're thrilled beyond words to know she's in a safe,
happy home where she's treasured as much as we treasured her!
January 2007 -- Our next foster was a pair of girls -- Bonnie and Donna.
After only a week here, we made the decision to keep them. You can read
more about Bonnie and Donna, and their new life here in their forever home with
Willy and Vixie by visiting helpbonnie.org.
Note - we've
taken down the site at helpbonnie.org since Bonnie has had her surgery, which
BRAT paid for. I'll be moving some of the items from that site over here,
the rest of it is already duplicated or irrelevant. That adoption officially ends our fostering career
-- four is definitely enough for us!
I was rereading the original information on them when they
were surrendered to BRAT and I was shocked to see that the breeder/collector
didn't just have a couple dozen dogs like we'd thought -- he had 100+.
(Not all of them were Basenjis.)
As I sit here and look at these two girls snoozing with Willy and Vixie, I am
again amazed at the resilience and adaptability of the breed in general -- and
of these two, in specific. When we first brought them home, not even two weeks
ago as I write this, Donna was so skittish if you so much as put your hand out she'd run from
you. Today (Monday), that same girl was sitting on the sofa alternately playing
with me and kissing me.
At one point Monday morning, she walked up to me and when I leaned down to pet
her, she put her paws on my shoulder and stretched up high to nuzzle my neck a
moment and then licked my cheek, after which she hopped down and trotted off to
the food bowl. Almost brought tears to my eyes, it was so sweet!
morning I was about to wake Missy up and there they were, Missy and Bonnie up on
the pillow and Donna down at the end of the bed between Missy's feet. I wanted
to run downstairs and get the camera, but I knew I'd never make it down two
flights of stairs and back up without one or all of them waking up. However, I
had my cell phone on my nightstand -- I use it as my alarm clock -- and
thank God for cell cameras! Are they cute or what?
They're so sweet and so playful. Despite all they've been thru in their short
lives to date, they seem to realize they're safe now and nothing bad is going to
happen to them again. They've also stopped gorging themselves on food -- they
seem to understand that there's not going to be any waiting between meals, they
don't have to eat till the bowl is empty.
As I write this (January 22, 2007) Willy is rapidly
approaching his 10th birthday. As much as we hate the thought of anything
happening to him, and although we know full well they can live longer (after
all, Jake was 13 when he passed away), we're also realists. One thing we really
regretted after Jake died was that he'd never gotten a chance to meet Vixen.
We had already decided that we'd get another basenji soon, so that it would
already be here, and be able to meet Willy and be "educated" by him the way
Vixie has been. We wanted Willy to have a hand in his or her upbringing,
as it were. And that way when Willy finally does pass on, Vixie will
already have a playmate and will not know as much pain as Willy suffered when he
lost his buddy Jake and he was suddenly the only dog in the house again. (Anyone who says dogs don't grieve is an idiot. Willy
cried and moped for days after Jake died. Only Vixie's arrival managed to perk
Although we'd only planned to bring one more into the family,
Bonnie and Donna were too special to let them go. When I snapped that
photo of Missy and Bonnie asleep on Sunday, and when I sat there this afternoon
watching the four of them running a Basenji-500 so fast it almost made your head
hurt to watch it, and when Donna walked up to me and spontaneously granted me a
kiss on the cheek for no apparent reason other than she felt like it ... there's
just no way I can let them go. I figure God had them sent here for a reason, and
who am I to argue with Him? :)
The passages below were taken from my blog,
The Original Musings.
Comments are welcomed over on the blog.
30 January 2006
And a few broken hearts.
That's what it costs to have your poor old basenji euthanized when he has
liver and kidney failure: $44.00. And a few broken hearts.
Jake, who turned 13 this past December, was acting strange the last day and a
half. We knew he was declining and had started making plans to get another dog,
so that Willy wouldn't be alone when the inevitable happened, and so that Jake
would get to meet the new dog. We figured it would make things easier on Willy
and on us. And maybe it wouldn't seem so much like we were "replacing" him if we
did it before he died.
We thought we had a bit more time.
Honestly, until Saturday night, he didn't appear to be in any distress.
Beginning Saturday night, he started twitching from time to time. Sunday morning
he seemed to rally and the twitching stopped. He went outside several times and
seemed to be fine again. He mostly hung around near me till I left to go to the
hospital to be with Caleb. Missy gave him his very favorite type of dog food,
not knowing it would be the last meal he ate. The later it got on Sunday, the
worse he got. Missy had taken him up to bed with her and when he started
twitching again, she brought him back down, and then began the vigil. He
wouldn't eat or drink (and this was a boy who loved food), he just laid around.
In the wee hours, he started twitching almost constantly, and at one point
Missy picked him up because he seemed to want off the sofa. When she lifted him,
he sprayed her and half the room with diarrhea. While we waited for the vet to
open, he was laying on the sofa and he messed again -- and he just laid there in
it. Jake was a fussy old guy, and he hated being dirty. And he'd NEVER have an
accident on the furniture.
We knew then that it was going to be bad news.
Darin had him in to the vet's this morning, they took him ahead of everyone
else, because it was clear he was in bad shape by then. He'd started peeing and
it just kept pouring out of him, Darin was soaked.
The vet said that he was going to die either way, but the longer we waited,
the more painful it would become for him. So, what do you do? Took about 15
seconds for it to work. They told us the animal cemetery people could come pick
him up and cremate him for us, but we wanted to take him ourselves. Missy sat in
the backseat with him beside her, she didn't want him in the trunk.
We came by the house first to let Willy sniff him and hopefully understand
that he wouldn't be coming back. After he had thoroughly sniffed him over, he
nudged him with his nose a couple times, and then got out of the car and walked
back into the house. He's moping around and wants to be with people. He's
crawled into bed with Amanda and Tim who are catching some sleep before they're
back to the hospital.
I keep wondering if Jake knew how very much we loved him. I hope his last few
years were happy. And I really hope he's up there in Heaven romping around and
doing the SPED doggie thing for Sammy.
I sure am gonna miss that old dog. So's
31 January 2006
What do you figure the odds are ...
aka: God answers a prayer
So ... earlier Monday evening, Missy and I were sitting here trading off
crying spells, missing Jake. Amanda and Tim were at the hospital. Darin and
Willy were in bed asleep (Darin works nights and Willy rarely misses a chance to
sleep -- plus he, too, is all sad and mopey now without Jake).
Missy was so depressed and overtired (neither of us had slept since yesterday
-- we were up all night with Jake and then couldn't sleep afterwards -- that she
skipped out on her private lessons tonite. She was running on grief, I guess,
because something was keeping her going, but it sure wasn't energy or
For the last three or four years, Missy has wanted to someday have a basenji/shiba
inu mixed breed dog. Ideally, she wanted a female and she wanted us to get this
unlikely combo as a puppy, so that it would never have been abused or mistreated
as both of our basenjis were by their former families. Today, she started
talking about wanting her "dream" dog and I told her not to get her hopes up,
that basenjis are rare to begin with and then to find one mixed with a shiba inu
would be really unlikely.
We went onto one of the basenji rescue pages (the one we got Willy and Jake
from didn't have any) and filled out the paperwork to get on the waiting list.
And then, when we couldn't stand it a minute more, we got in the car and went
to SICSA (sort of a no-kill shelter for dogs and cats -- they're wonderful).
When we went in, we told them we just wanted to look at the dogs, maybe play
with or pet one or two of them, just to take our minds off Jake. They told us
that was fine, they understood and any dogs we wanted to see would appreciate
the special attention.
There are three rooms of dogs at SICSA. The front room has small dogs,
puppies and small-medium sized dogs. The middle room has larger dogs, and older
pups that are going to be large dogs. And the back room has the monsters, the
ones that look like they're half horse.
We wandered around, petting dogs, commenting on the ones we liked, the ones
that were noisy, the ones that looked sad, and so on. After going through all
three rooms, we decided to go back to the front room and have another look.
There were a couple that had caught our eye the first time through -- one was a
chihuahua-jack russell terrier puppy and the other was a four-year old beagle
mix named Barney. Barney was such a friendly (and loud!) dog -- his eyes were
definitely pleading "pick me! Oh, please pick me!" We weren't going to
pick him, but we were definitely going to pet him.
On our first go thru the room, we'd noticed that one little dog near him was
all curled up in a little ball. She was (we thought) solid black and she seemed
frightened. Her name caught our eye, because it was "Annette" which is my mom's
name. Because she was so timid and all curled up with her back to us, we hadn't
really paid her that much attention.
When we came back in the room, Missy was petting Barney and I was looking at
the little gal in the upper cage. She turned over and yawned, and I noticed that
one of her paws was half white, with little black spots on it, like Willy's
belly. I said "Missy, look! She's got basenji spots on her paw!" Missy looked,
but continued petting Barney for the moment. She said "I'll pet her in a minute,
Barney really needs some loving here."
Then I read the puppy's date of birth -- 11-17-2005. Missy's birthday is
11-16. I said "Missy! She's only two months old and she was born the day after
your birthday!" Missy got up and began petting her, but Barney again comandeered
her and she returned her attention to him. The kid has a heart the size of Texas
And then I looked at her breed. In the "breed 1" slot was "basenji" ... and
in the "breed 2" spot was "shiba inu." No, I am not kidding. Missy started
crying when I told her and then she said "thank you God!" Up she hopped, with a
final hug for Barney and told me, "I want her, mommy. God put her here for me!
She's my prayer come true!"
Now, honestly, what do you figure the odds have to be? Not just a basenji/shiba
inu mix (which is itself rare), but one that's a girl AND a puppy as well. And
in SICSA on the very night we happen to be there.
We went out and told them we'd like to see her. The lady took one look at our
faces and asked "do you want to fill out the paperwork?" Oh, yes. Yes, we did.
We filled out the paperwork, and then I went and got her out of the cage while
Missy waited in the little play area they'd assigned to us.
When I set that little gal on the floor, she went straight to Missy. She's
bouncy, her little tail was wagging a mile a minute, and she absolutely loved
the hell out of us -- and we were wrapped, totally. The puppy was absolutely
thrilled with Missy, she kept running from Missy to me, then off to get a toy
and then right back to Missy's lap, where she'd stay for a few minutes and then
bounce up again and make the circuit a couple times before pouncing back on
Missy's lap. When she tired herself out, she snuggled up to Missy and took a
little snooze -- stretching up periodically to lick her on the chin or cheek.
Missy was still crying a little bit, but they were happy tears, and she kept
telling me "Mommy, God answered my prayer! He really did!"
We talked about puppies and how they like to chew (which she demonstrated
more than once, much to Missy's delight!) and how nothing will be able to be
left on the floor till she knows her boundaries. We talked about how she might
very well tear a few things up before that's learned and how she'll need special
attention till we get her trained and she starts to lose a little of the puppy
exuberance. (And how she'll no doubt run Willy ragged and maybe FatBoy will lose
a couple of those extra pounds he's got around his middle!)
Missy said "oh, I love her! Please, we have to take her, God put her here for
us!" and I took my cell phone out to call daddy and let him know we were about
to commit to The Puppy™.
We wound up spending about 45 minutes with her before we reluctantly put her
back (they were already closed, which is why we couldn't adopt her tonite). She
cried when Missy returned her to the cage, but Missy promised her we'll be back
Thursday to get her. (They're closed on Tuesdays (vet day) and Wednesdays
(spay/neuter day -- our little gal is already spayed and micro-chipped,
incidentally) so we can't pick her up till Thursday.)
She also spent a few more minutes petting Barney and promising him that
someone will come along to take him home too. I almost think he understood her
-- he settled down and quit whining, anyhow!
We'll be taking Willy (and daddy!) with us on Thursday so that Willy has a
chance to meet her on neutral territory and then ride home with her. That's the
same way he met Jake -- we took him to Charlie's house and then Jake came home
Amanda and Darin are happy just based on our descriptions of the little doll.
She's flat-coated like Willy and looks more like a basenji than a shiba inu
except in the face.
She's got the basenji furrows in her brow, the extra skin and the dainty feet,
although hers are huge compared to Willy's.
She's got one mostly white paw with basenji spots on it, and one that's about a
quarter white with a couple basenji spots. She's got a white chest and a white
area that looks like she's wearing a diaper on the underside of her
bottom/belly. Between the two white patches, she's got a thin stripe of white
running right down the middle, sort of like the crossbar on an "H". Don't know
yet if she's got the vocal chords of a basenji or a shiba inu, but other than
the crying when we put her up and some squeaky growling when she was playing
tug-of-war with Missy, she never made a peep, so I'm betting it's the former.
We came home, told Daddy all about the soon-to-be new arrival, and cooked
dinner. Then Missy sat down and began searching baby name sites for a new name
for her -- because she's only two months old she's not accustomed to "Annette"
anyhow, and we already have one Annette in the family! About 12:30 she finally
wound down and fell asleep in the chair while talking about names. She was
arguing with me over whether it could wait till later as she nodded off.
We still miss Jake -- horribly -- and I'm sure we will for a long time. He
wasn't "just a dog" to us, he was a friend, a companion and in some ways, a
member of the family. When I was in the kitchen, he was on the little mat in
front of the sink, watching my every move. When I filled my insulin syringe he'd
sit there and watch, and I'd have to show him (every time!) that it wasn't
anything he wanted, it was just a syringe. If I sat on the sofa watching tv,
he'd get up with me and curl up against me till the movie was over. He followed
me around -- constantly underfoot! -- and every time I turned around, he was
grooming any bit of me that wasn't covered with clothing. When I was too busy to
pay attention to him, he'd either lay there and wait patiently, or he'd go find
someone else to love on for a while. He loved to play with Missy, and Amanda
could get him going like no one else. Darin was his buddy, and Jake trusted him
implicitly. I can still see him dashing to the door to welcome us home, that big
goofy doggy grin on his face and that tail going back and forth so fast his butt
wiggled with it.
He'd get so excited over bites of people food he'd be unable to sit, his butt
would just keep hopping up and he'd yodel and whine and up-down-up-down-up-down
with the butt the whole while trying to get his share. When he had one of us to
himself, he'd growl a low, deep throated rumble at Willy if Willy tried to slip
in and steal our attention away from him.
He never wanted anything more than some attention, some scratching on those
special spots that made him almost purr with pleasure, a bite of people food
here and there and to be with us. You could sit and talk to him and he'd nod
wisely, even though you knew damned well he only had 4 working brain cells, he
had eyes full of love and that silly tail to tell you just how much he loved
As I tried to explain to a friend of mine (not a pet owner), this little gal
won't be able to take his place -- not by a long shot, but she can help us get
past the loss and longing by filling some of the holes that are left now that
he's gone. He always hated it when one of us was sad or disturbed about
something, he'd do anything to cheer us up, so I'm certain he understands why we
need someone to help us bear his loss a little. This little 5 pound bundle is a
definite people lover and she could charm Satan himself, so I know Jake would
approve; and I know Willy, who's got the basenji variety of Missy's heart, will
And now ... maybe I can sleep too. News from the real world can wait till
later and maybe the "family blogging" can slow down for a while.
I just have to get past that empty pillow at the foot of my bed.
02 February 2006
Puppy pictures posted!
Right here, in the 2006 family
photos album. Isn't she adorable?
Every time Missy sits down, she gets a lap full of puppy. The sweet little
thing even curled up on her and took a nap. Missy's in seventh heaven -- and the
entire family is captivated with her, you just can't help but adore her, she's
so wonderfully bouncy and pleasant. She tried to eat Tim's goatee and went after
Darin's beard. She's got Amanda wrapped already.
Missy chose the name "Vixen" for her -- "Vixie" for short. She's decided
Willy is her best buddy. Mind you, Willy isn't so sure about that, but
the puppy is! So far, he's put up with her climbing on him, chasing him, gnawing
on his ears, chewing his tail and tackling him at a full run every time he lays
The one thing he won't tolerate quietly is her stealing his treats. She
swiped one earlier, and he growled up a storm at her. She cocked her little head
and furrowed her brow at him, but didn't relinquish the treat. Her tail was
wagging the whole time as she just looked up at him. He sighed and let
her have the treat. Big ol' softie.
She's gonna wear that extra weight off him in no time. She's already had him
running in circles around the house chasing her -- or being chased by her.
She's just what we all needed!
October 20, 2006
Missy had some pizza earlier this afternoon. She
left the paper plate with a couple slices on top of her monitor --
up, out of reach, where no basenji could get it -- and went
upstairs to do something.
I heard a noise behind me and spied Abby (aka
Tidbit) up in Missy's chair, stretching as far as she could trying
to get the pizza.
This was a definite Kodak moment.
Two photos under the fold.
Stretching ... almost there ... so close she can
almost taste it ...
And she nabs it! Score!
January 22, 2007
Bonnie and Donna
We recently (January 13) took in a pair of foster
basenjis for BRAT. After some serious discussion, a good bit of
prayer for guidance and a bunch of negotiation, etc., we made the
momentous decision to adopt them into our family.
I've spent my free time in the last two days
setting up a website at helpbonnie.org, which explains what all
happened and how we came to adopt them.
Blogging will resume again,
now that we've got all that settled.
If you know of anyone who might be willing to toss
a few bucks our way to help pay for Bonnie's surgery, I'd surely
appreciate it. We're not made of money (don't I wish!) but we
couldn't allow anymore upheaval in their lives, or even worse, allow
her to be put down for no crime other than being sick.
Anyhow, have a look at the site and feel free to
come on back here and discuss. And tell us how nuts we are if you
wish! Right now I feel too good about giving these darling little
gals a forever home and a forever family to take offense.
Note - we've taken down the site at helpbonnie.org since Bonnie has
had her surgery, which BRAT paid for. I'll be moving some of
the items from that site over here, the rest of it is already
duplicated or irrelevant.
February 2, 2007
Heaven help us now
The dog gets much smarter, we're gonna be in
Vixen, who turned 1 in November, has known how to
open the screen door (push the handle type) since last summer.
Today, we learned that she has figured out how to
turn the door knob and open the main door if it's unlocked. She uses
her paws and pulls back as she's turning it. It takes her a few
tries to get it each time (so far, anyhow) but by God she does it.
She's been very intently watching us use doorknobs
the last couple weeks here, which is what she does when she's trying
to solve a puzzle or figure something out. We were joking about how
the opposable thumbs thing was the only thing keeping her in line.
Guess the joke's on us!
February 6, 2007
It's coming down hard -- has been all day. They
say by morning we'll have four to seven inches. We probably already
have four inches, maybe more. (I'm terrible at judging snowfall --
one year I thought we'd had about eight inches and it turned out we
had 21. Obviously, I'm not good at this!)
At noon, one of the directors of Missy's dance
academy said that the academy would be open, but attendance was
voluntary due to the snow. At 5:00 that went out the window and they
closed the academy entirely. Our county (Greene) is under a level 2
snow emergency. Montgomery County (where the academy is) is only
under a level 1.
The tracks left just an hour and a half ago when
the dogs were each forced outside to do their business are now gone.
You can't even tell anyone's been out there.
Vixen doesn't mind the snow too much -- the
hokkaido in her, I guess. The three purebred basenjis are another
story entirely. Donna practically has to be thrown out the door and
you have to slam it shut fast, otherwise, she bolts right back in.
Willy has to be forced out, kicking and screaming all the way. Poor
Bonnie is so small she's half buried in it! We cleared a short path
away from the side door so she could get out there without wading in
Assuming the city comes and plows our streets --
we can't even get out of the driveway right now -- this weekend
Missy and I will be making a short jaunt up to Lima to move two
basejis along the way to a new home in Michigan. Missy's tickled --
we'll be a part of the basenji underground railroad!
I'll post some snow pictures tomorrow, once it's
done and we see how much we really got.
February 8, 2007
Bonnie, The Optimist
And The Mega-Rawhide™
As always, click on the photos
to see them at full size!
Never let it be said that basenjis aren't optimists.
Following a busy night tormenting Willy, Vixen and
Donna, Bonnie settled down on the sofa in the basement (aka the
basenji sofa) to play with the Pikachu and the Chubble skin. After a
while, though, that got kind of boring.
She looked around for something else to play with
... and that's when she got ambitious: she decided to tackle The
First, she had to drag it up on the sofa.
Unfortunately, I was laughing too hard to get the camera for that
part of the show. She finally got it up there and held it down so
she could get busy with it.
She overlooked the inconvenient fact that The
Mega-Rawhide™ is as big as she is. That's what God gave her hind
legs for, after all!
Apparently no one ever told her she couldn't do it, so she gave it
her best shot.
Check out that mighty jawspan!
Eventually, someone's going to wear the daggone
thing down enough to get an end loose so they can really get going
on it. I can't wait to see the tussling when that happens!
Amanda and Tim bought it for Vixie and Willy for
Christmas. They figured they'd go nuts with it -- not that it would
be too big for them to tackle.
After Bonnie gave up on it (for now, anyhow!) she
went and stole a pig's ear from Willy. And the tormenting is back in
full swing, with all four of them running after each other trying to
get the pig's ear from whoever has it at each moment (usually
Vixie). Never mind that there are four other pig's ears laying
around -- they all want the same one, because that's more fun! I
swear, these dogs are more entertaining than just about any
14 February 2007
Another "awww" moment ...
Courtesy of the basenjis
When we first got Bonnie and Donna, we were told
that they were very bonded to one another, and totally devoted to
one another. Nothing we've seen since then has changed that
When Bonnie went in for her surgery, Donna was
very sad. When Bonnie came home from her surgery, Donna spent a half
hour sniffing her and then proceeded to groom her. Bonnie's almost
as sweet as Vixen is, and, like Vixie, she's got a mischievous
streak. She's the littlest dog in the house and she uses that to her
advantage. I never get tired of seeing the cute things they do --
all of them, not just Bonnie and Donna.
But this ... this was just too sweet. This was as
sweet as the night Bonnie shared a stolen tortilla chip with Donna.
All the dogs had tired themselves out and had crashed on the sofa.
That's Bonnie on her back, and Donna holding her. (Go on, say it ...
"awww!") Willy is the lump up behind them. Vixie's the
sleek black mountain lion at the other end of the sofa.
(Click on the photo to enlarge it)
Click here for a closeup of just Bonnie & Donna
Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you have someone just
as cuddly as Bonnie to keep you warm.
more photos in
warning! attack dogs!
sort of like owning a saturn
willy hates her. no, really.
©2002-2011 by Kathleen
Helms. All Rights Reserved.