|Kindu keeping my chair wa|
By: Linda Grupp Boutin
Even after decades living with basenjis, they keep teaching me new things about the breed. Most recently Kindu taught me a new trick. So you’re asking, the dog taught the human a new trick? And I would answer: of course he taught me a new behavior. It’s not the first time this has happened. Rosie Toes received her name after she taught me that if I didn’t fill up her food dish by 5 p.m., I could expect her to dance around the room until she gained my attention to go to the kitchen and feed her. Others of the breed taught me all about when I should open the door using various cues to tell me their desires. Mostly all these dogs taught me how I was to respond to their needs.
Kindu has turned this completely upside down. Ever since we had to patch holes in walls and purchase replacement furniture turned into chew bones, we have taught our basenjis that their crate was their “safe” place. In other words, we were protecting them from our wrath when we returned home to find destruction wreaked by our bored pets. It’s amazing what this iron-mouthed breed can chew through when they put their minds to it.
So on his very first night, I taught our basenji boy that his crate was to sleep in and I lay on the floor beside him trying to lull him to sleep. That is, until Gary came out to the living room and convinced me to let Kindu sleep near us in the headboard of our bed. We all got a good night’s sleep and I continued working on his training the next morning. One thing he could always count on though was that if we both went somewhere, Kindu would be confined to his crate.
As a result, he has never learned to be a destructive chewer like so many basenjis are. All he’s ever chewed up included a potholder and one of Gary’s baseball caps. So recently when he gave us more than the usual guff about going in his crate, I decided to desensitize him by providing positive reinforcement when he went in his crate. In other words, I bribed him.
So last Wednesday night I was surprised to see our boy sitting behind me while I was getting ready to go to the Aspiring Writers’ Forum, a writers’ group I co-lead with my writing buddy, Coleene. My shock grew out of Kindu’s unusual behavior. Normally if he senses that we’re leaving, he hides behind the far end of the dining room table and leads us on one of his merry chases before acquiescing and agreeing to go in his crate. Not this night though, a strategically placed piece of bacon treat had been beckoning to him from inside the crate and he was waiting for me to follow him up the hallway and open the door for him to enter and enjoy his treat. No muss, no fuss, just a boy happy to go into his “safe” and “tasty” place.