Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why Basenjis?

Our basenji-boy, Kindu, relaxing on the couch after a good game of fetch.
A few days ago I walked my dog as usual.  We weren't alone, but had a neighbor walking with us.  Seeing me struggling to get my basenji boy to walk properly, the friend asked, "Why do you want to have a basenji?"  Now this is a good question because they are a difficult breed of dog to train in the best of times.  I know the answer to this question. It's because of their strong will, some might even call stubbornness, that I find them appealing.This isn't your average sit-stay-down dog. To achieve obedience, you must have a special relationship with these characters.

Simply stated, these dogs are survivors.  Although there are pictures of them in Egypt dating back to the time of the pharaohs, they nearly disappeared altogether.  A British adventurer discovered them living with one tribal group in Africa in the 19th Century.  In the 20th Century a few foundation dogs of the breed made their way to the United States. I lucked out and received my first half-basenji in the 1960s. I've been learning about them ever since and enjoying their special company all along the way.

Kindu retaught me the latest lesson just yesterday: "If he wants attention, he will find a way to get your attention, good or bad."  I've been fighting a cold and have had very little energy and not much interest in playing ball with my dog. Most of the day he was content to lay beside me and take a nap. There comes a witching hour however when Kindu decides it is time to play. That hour usually comes in the late afternoon when sunset fills the sky. Yesterday I sat on the bed folding laundry and could see that he wanted to play while I wanted to finish my chore and lie down. Guess who won this tug of war? First I had to chase him around the dining table to retrieve my socks he'd grabbed from the basket. It became a great game for him to try and grab anything to make me run after him.

Finally I had the clothes safely tucked away in the drawers and collapsed on the pillows with a cough and sigh of relief. Now Kindu got to work in creating a ruckus. First he started digging in his dog bed beside me on the floor. I got up and shooed him away from the activity. He bounded over the bed and ran out into the living room. I reclined again hoping he'd behave himself. Within a minute I heard him opening the dresser drawer. Yes, he knows how to open every drawer in the house when he chooses to. I rolled to the other side of the bed to see what he was up to and discovered the little scamp had my husband's sweater drawer open and was pulling Gary's favorite red sweater out with his teeth. I jumped over and removed his teeth from the knit, firmly closing the drawer and shooing him away again.

Now my cell phone rang and Kindu cocked his head to one side when he heard Gary's voice on the speaker phone. Soon the master would be home and the dog took this to be a sign to play in earnest. Well for the next twenty minutes while we awaited Gary's arrival, the games continued with Kindu favoring opening the sweater drawer over and over to my distraction. I was happy to turn "The Wild Beast" over to Gary when he arrived. My husband calmly pulled out one of Kindu's toys and began a game of fetch. Rather than returning the toy to Gary, our boy decided that I would no doubt love to join in the game so he brought the toy to me. Instead of screaming or crying, I simply laughed and sent the toy flying back out to the living room where Gary stood. Yep, when he's ready to play or walk or most anything else, you'd better be ready to participate because he's going to make sure you do one way or the other.